Source: The Malta Independent Online – By Annaliza Borg
The decision to ban Mario Azzopardi’s books Alicia titkellem mill-Imwiet and Vampir from secondary school libraries was taken on ideological grounds and suggested the educational system is prone to manipulation through the restriction of certain content, said the Front Against Censorship yesterday.
At a press conference announcing its stand on the issue, held outside the National Library in Floriana, the Front expressed its belief that the books were originally banned on the premise that the themes explored failed to pass some conservative criterion of suitability. Vampir was later re-classified with a 16 rating in school libraries but it was displayed in the children’s section at the national library.
During the same press conference, the Front also made reference to books being hidden in cabinets at the University of Malta library.
The Front referred to “several irregularities” in the process leading to the books being banned. The School Library Regulations Manual – a document the Front managed to get hold of and which is supposed to regulate the classification process, was said to include several points that seemed to have been blatantly ignored.
The School Libraries Section (SLS) directive to ban the books was not theirs to make as the responsibility for co-ordinating and recommending the selection and the purchase of library materials rests with the teacher-librarians, the Front said quoting the manual. Moreover, the manual says the use of profane and sexual incidents should not in itself disqualify material from selection.
Front suggested the proper classification of works intended to be part of school libraries given the target audience of these books and the clear sign that the existent process is inadequate. The classification process, it believes, should be well defined and transparent. The book’s author should also be able to suggest the classification to be given, based on the targeted audience.
A panel of qualified experts with no conflicting interests in the case should evaluate the request according to public and transparent criteria.
Such standards are required both with respect to authors and to avoid ideologically or religiously motivated judgements while providing the necessary protection to minors.
Front also urged the National Book Council to publish the report it commissioned believing this was in the public’s interest. So far, the public was getting the impression that the matter was being discussed behind closed doors.
Front meanwhile, welcomed education minister’s Dolores Cristina’s initiative to set up a working group to examine the issue and hoped those responsible from banning the books in question will be held responsible.
The Front will be calling the responsible persons at SLS to resign if no satisfactory action to stop books from being banned on ideological grounds fails to materialise.
Changing subject to the University library and the isolation of books implicating sexuality or religion in their titles, in cabinets at the back of the Melitensia section, Front said the exercise was “shameful”, especially at a tertiary institution.
Last April, Front received reports that Irvine Welsh’s ‘Porno’ and a biography of Marquis De Sade by Hayman Ronalid were isolated in cabinets. After revealing the case to the media, Porno was placed in the main library and can be easily accessed.
However, the phenomenon of having books isolated in cabinets persisted and the Front identified 33 books marked as being part of the cabinet collection when they are not rare items or melitensia documents.
List of books under ‘lock and key’
La Formation du Lien Sexuel: Duyckaerts, Francois
Human Sexuality: Mahoney, ER
The Silence of Sodom: Homosexuality in Modern Catholicism: Jordan, Mark D
The Way of the Cross: Escriva, Josemaira
Their Kingdom Come: Inside the Secret World of Opus Dei: Hutchison, Robert
The Left Hand of God: A biography of the Holy Spirit: Holl, Adolf
Via col Vento in Vaticano/ I Millenari
101 Myths of the Bible: How Ancient Scribes invented Biblical History: Greenberg, Gary
Cracking the Apocalypse Code: The Shocking Secrets of the Book of Revelation Decoded: Bodson, Gerard
Violence, Utopia and the Kingdom of God: Fantasy and Ideology in the Bible / edited by Tina Pippin and George Aichele
Gay and Gaia: Ethics, Ecology and the Erotic: Spencer, David
Body Invaders: Sexuality and the Postmodern Condition / edited and introduced by Arthur and Mariloise Kroker
Women’s Images of Men/ editors, Sarah Kent and Jaqueline Morreau
Anatomy of Desire: The Science and Psychology of Sex, Love and Marriage: Andreae, Simon
Die Sexualitat des Menschen: Handbuch und Antlas
Women, Sex and Pornography: Faust, Beatrice
The Invention of Pornography: Obscenity and the Origins of Modernity, 1500-1800
Hollywood Blue: The Tinseltown Pornographers: Gaffin, Harris
Porn Gold: Inside the Pornography Business/ David Hebditch and Nick Anning
Flagellation and the Flagellants: A history of the Rod in all Cppuntries, from the Earliest Period to the Present Time: Bertram, James Glass
Picasso’s Brothel: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon: Anderson, Wayne
The Explicit Body in Performance: Schneider, Rebecca
Glissements Progressifs du Plaisir: Robbe-Grillet, Alain
Of Women and their Elegance: Mailer, Norman
Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics: Gravett, Paul
Justine, ou Les Malheurs se la Vertu: Sade Marquis de
Marquis de Sade: The Genius of Passion: Ronald Hayman
I Capricciosi Ragionamenti: Aretino, Pietro
Fanny Hill, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure: Hayman, Ronalld
Dot in the Universe: Ellmann, Lucy
Making the Body Beautiful: A Culture History of Aesthetic Surgery: Gillman, Sander
Master Photographers: The World’s Great Photographers on their Art and Technique
- Ministry Denies School Libraries Censorship Claims (censorshipinamerica.wordpress.com)