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KRRP Letter: Rainbow Rowell Disinvitation in Anoka, MN

KRRP Letter: Rainbow Rowell Disinvitation in Anoka, MN

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Published by ncacensorship
Rainbow Rowell was disinvited from a long-anticipated talk in Anoka County, MN after concerns about the content of her book Eleanor & Park. The book had been selected by the public libraries and district as the summer Rock the Read book choice.
Rainbow Rowell was disinvited from a long-anticipated talk in Anoka County, MN after concerns about the content of her book Eleanor & Park. The book had been selected by the public libraries and district as the summer Rock the Read book choice.

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Published by: ncacensorship on Sep 23, 2013
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09/27/2013

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A project of theNational Coalition Against Censorship
CO-SPONSORED BY
 
American Booksellers Foundation for Free ExpressionAssociation of American PublishersComic Book Legal Defense Fund
19 Fulton Street, Suite 407, New York, NY 10038 212-807-6222 www.ncac.org/Kids-Right-to-Read
twitter
@KidsRight2Read
facebook 
/ncacorg
Kids’Right toReadProject
NCAC
Marlene Moulton Janssen, Director Anoka County Public Libraries707 County Rd. 10 NEBlaine, MN 55434
 
Board of CommissionersAnoka County Government Center 2100 3rd AvenueAnoka, MN 55303-5024September 19, 2013Dear Ms. Janssen and County Commissioners,We write to protest the recent cancellation of Rainbow Rowell’s visit to Anoka County Public Libraries and Anoka-Hen-nepin Public Schools. As we understand it, the county board directed that the invitation be withdrawn after some mem- bers of the community objected to profanity in her novel,
 Eleanor & Park 
.Depriving the district’s students and general public of the opportunity to hear a speaker because a few people object to or disapprove of what she has written violates basic constitutional principles. Under the First Amendment, it is unconstitu-
tional to prohibit “the expression of an idea simply because society nds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”
Texas v. Johnson
(1989). “[T]he Constitution exists precisely so that opinions and judgments, including esthetic and moral judg-ments about art and literature, can be formed, tested, and expressed. What the Constitution says is that these judgments
are for the individual to make, not for the Government to decree, even with the mandate or approval of a majority.”
US v. Playboy Entertainment Group
(2000).
These principles apply with equal force to school ofcials: “If there is any xed star in our constitutional constellation,it is that no ofcial, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other mattersof opinion….”
West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette
(1943). Thus, “[l]ocal school boards may not remove books
from school libraries simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books …”
 Board of Education, Island TreesUnion Free School District No. 26 v. Pico
, (1982). Public institutions may not remove speakers because they dislike their ideas any more than they can remove books for that reason.
 Eleanor & Park 
is a bestselling coming-of-age novel. John Green, another author of best-selling young adult novels, re-viewing it in the New York 
Times
called it “a beautiful, haunting love story [whose] observational precision and richness
make for very special reading.” The book, he wrote, “reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with agirl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.” The fact that some people object to elements of the book 

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