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to read
FREEDOM TO READ WEEK marks its twenty-third anniversary in 2007.
Each year, Freedom to Read examines current issues of intellectual freedom.
This educational kit is designed to inform and assist booksellers, librarians,
students, educators, and the community at large, particularly during
Freedom to Read Week.
This year, we explore the impact of technology on issues of free expression
as well as the delicate interplay between cultural sensitivities and literary
freedom. An excerpt from Val Ross’s book You Can’t Read This illustrates
how even Superman was subject to censure and censorship, from both
fascists and anti-fascists.
The Get Involved section provides exercises and resources for teachers and
students, including a guide to generating both ideas and effective publicity
for your Freedom to Read Week events. Back issues of Freedom to Read plus
other resources are available on our Web site at

NOTE: If you have any suggestions for future issues of Freedom to Read, please send them to the Book and Periodical Council,
Suite 107, 192 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M5T 2C2. Phone: (416) 975-9366 Fax: (416) 975-1839. E-mail:
The Book and Periodical Council (BPC) would like to thank the following
for their generous sponsorship of Freedom to Read Week 2007:

The BPC would also like to thank the following organizations and individuals
for their support and in-kind donations:

Nunavut Public
Library Services

Canadian Library Association


Provincial Library

Atlantic Provinces
Library Association

Manitoba Library Association

The following people contributed an incredible amount of time and energy producing the kit and poster
and maintaining the Web site at Benita Aalto, Helena Aalto, Franklin Carter,
Ron Giddings, Peggy McKee, Scott Mitchell, Marg Anne Morrison, Reva Pomer, David Wyman,
and the members of the Freedom of Expression Committee.

The BPC, along with the Freedom of Expression Committee, thanks all writers,
photographers, and illustrators for their contributions to the Freedom to Read kit of 2007.

The BPC gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and its member organizations.
to read
4 Position Statement: Freedom of 25 PEN Canada: Seventy Years in
Expression and Freedom to Read the Fight for Free Expression
Book and Periodical Council By Aidan Johnson

5 News Bytes 26 Reflections on Press Freedom in 2006

By Franklin Carter and Benita Aalto By Julie Payne

8 The Blogosphere: Free Speech 27 There’s a Chill in the Air

Limits in an Uncharted World By Ron Brown
By Benita Aalto
28 The Human Rights Police
10 Restricted Access: The Dispute Over By Franklin Carter
Three Wishes in Ontario’s Schools
By Deborah Ellis, Len Rudner, the Toronto
District School Board, and Peggy Thomas GET INVOLVED
13 Internet “Hacktivism”:
30 Foreword
Digital Davids v. Global Goliaths
By Greg Simpson 31 Challenged Books and Magazines
15 Drawing the Line: Canadians Debate the 33 Activity: Organize an Essay Contest During
Dissemination of Denmark’s Mohammed Cartoons Freedom to Read Week: Winning Student
By Ezra Levant, Dan Dunsky, Tony Burman, Essays from Calgary’s Public Library
and Wade MacLauchlan
34 BookCrossing
17 Varieties of Censorship
By Franklin Carter 35 Freedom to Read Photo Competition:
Your Chance to Be a Shutterbug!
19 Book Excerpt: You Can’t Read This
By Val Ross 36 Activity: Write a Killer Press Release
and Get Publicity!
20 Rushdie Redux: A Global Conflict Over
Danish Cartoons Echoes the Crisis 37 Activity: Organize In-Class Debates!
Over The Satanic Verses
37 Activity: Display Challenged Books!
By Franklin Carter

22 The Retail Challenge: Booksellers 38 Activity: Host a Reading Marathon!

and Freedom to Read 38 Activity: Organize a Public Debate!
By Emily Sinkins
39 The Internet: Netlinks
23 2006 Awards for Freedom of
Expression/Freedom to Read 40 Event Sponsors of Freedom to Read Week 2006
Benita Aalto, Helena Aalto
Position Statement
Franklin Carter
Freedom of Expression
DESIGN and Freedom to Read
Reva Pomer A statement of the basic tenets of the Freedom of Expression
POSTER DESIGN Committee of the Book and Periodical Council
Ron Giddings, David Wyman
“Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms . . .
Benita Aalto, Ron Brown, Tony Burman, thought, belief, opinion, and expression.”
Franklin Carter, Dan Dunsky, Deborah Ellis,
Anne Jayne, Aidan Johnson, Barbara Lake, — Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Ezra Levant, Wade MacLauchlan, Spencer
Freedom of expression is a fundamental right of all Canadians, and freedom
Moore, Julie Payne, Val Ross, Len Rudner,
Greg Simpson, Emily Sinkins, Peggy to read is part of that precious heritage. Our Committee, representing member
Thomas. organizations and associations of the Book and Periodical Council, reaffirms its
support of this vital principle and opposes all efforts to suppress writing and
© Book and Periodical Council 2006
The Book and Periodical Council is the umbrella silence writers. Words and images in their myriad configurations are the
organization for associations involved in the substance of free expression.
writing, editing, publishing, manufacturing,
distributing, selling, and lending of books The freedom to choose what we read does not, however, include the freedom
and periodicals in Canada.
to choose for others. We accept that courts alone have the authority to restrict
No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in reading material, a prerogative that cannot be delegated or appropriated. Prior
any form or by any means without prior written restraint demeans individual responsibility; it is anathema to freedom
permission of the Book and Periodical Council or,
and democracy.
in the case of photocopying or other reprographic
copying, a licence from the Canadian Copyright
Licensing Agency (Access Copyright).
As writers, editors, publishers, book manufacturers, distributors, retailers,
Please credit the Book and Periodical Council
and librarians, we abhor arbitrary interpretations of the law and other attempts
on any copies of kit materials. Forward all to limit freedom of expression. We recognize court judgements; otherwise, we
suggestions for future Freedom to Read kits to oppose the detention, seizure, destruction, or banning of books and periodicals—
the Book and Periodical Council in Toronto.
indeed, any effort to deny, repress, or sanitize. Censorship does not protect
The opinions expressed in Freedom to Read 2007
do not necessarily reflect the official views of society; it smothers creativity and precludes open debate of controversial issues.
the Book and Periodical Council or its member
associations. Endorsed by the Book and Periodical Council
ISBN 0-9739099-1-9 February 5, 1997

Kits may be ordered from the Book and Periodical Council for
$15 plus shipping and handling charges. Orders for 10 kits or more,
shipped to a single address, receive a 20 per cent discount and
may be accompanied by a purchase order. Flat, rolled, full-colour
posters are available for $10 plus shipping and handling charges.
GST is included in all prices (GST#R106801889). All orders
are subject to a shipping and handling charge.
Book and Periodical Council
192 Spadina Avenue, Suite 107
Toronto, Ontario M5T 2C2
Phone: (416) 975-9366
Fax: (416) 975-1839
Web site:
Web site:

4 | FREEDOM T O R E A D 2007
News Bytes
BY FRANKLIN CARTER a panic and an anti-Arab backlash at
and BENITA AALTO Concordia after the terrorist attacks
on the United States on September 11,
CANADA 2001.

JUSTICE MINISTER DECIDES According to Bernans, he received

AGAINST APPEAL; OTTAWA permission in June 2006 to read at
JOURNALIST GOES FREE Concordia on September 11, 2006, but
was later denied permission from the
university’s risk assessment commit-
Minister Vic Toews declared that he
tee. Bernans said that he received no
would not appeal a court decision that
explanation for the cancelled booking.
struck down part of Canada’s secrecy
According to Michael Di Grappa, a uni-
law and tossed out police warrants
versity vice-president, the cancellation
that were used to search a journalist’s
was a mistake, and the risk assess-
home and office. North of 9/11 by David Bernans
ment committee hadn’t discussed (Cumulus Press, 2006)
Two weeks earlier, Madam Justice Bernans’s request.
Lynn Ratushny of Ontario’s Superior MAN JAILED FOR PROMOTING
On September 5, 2006, Di Grappa ANTI-SEMITISM ON WEB
Court of Justice had struck down three
invited Bernans to read at Concordia; ON SEPTEMBER 1, 2006, JUSTICE
sections of the Security of Information
on September 11, 2006, Bernans read Philip Clarke of the Alberta Court
Act and had quashed the warrants
his novel to a small crowd at an off- of Queen’s Bench sentenced Reni
used by the Royal Canadian Mounted
campus bookstore. Sentana-Ries to 16 months in prison for
Police to search the home and office of
Juliet O’Neill, a reporter for the Ottawa promoting anti-Semitism on a Web site.
Citizen, in 2004. Clarke also prohibited Sentana-Ries
from using the Internet for 36 months
Ratushny’s decision and Toews’s
ON AUGUST 25, 2006, THE and ordered the Web site shut down.
announcement meant that O’Neill no
longer faced prosecution for using Canadian Radio-television and Sentana-Ries—who styled himself
“a security source” and a leaked Telecommunications Commission the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and
document to write a news story about (CRTC) declined to ask Internet service named his Web site The Federation of
Maher Arar in 2003. providers (ISPs) to block two U.S. Free Planets—blamed Jews for fabricat-
Web sites that promote race hatred ing the Holocaust, creating the deadly
Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen, AIDS and Ebola viruses, and destroying
and incite violence against a Canadian
was wrongly suspected of having ties the World Trade Center and space shut-
citizen. The CRTC said that it would
to al-Qaeda and was deported to Syria tle Columbia. Sentana-Ries claimed
be inappropriate to authorize ISPs to
by U.S. authorities in 2002. In Syria, he that Jews sought world domination.
block the Web sites without first seek-
was imprisoned for more than a year The 16-month sentence is the longest
ing comment from the companies and
and tortured before being returned to ever imposed in Canada for promoting
the public.
Canada. race hatred on a Web site.
Richard Warman, a lawyer and anti-
AUTHOR AND OFFICIALS CLASH racist activist in Ottawa, had asked the “OBSCENE” LESBIAN NOVEL
David Bernans, author of North of 9/11, sites—which belong to a Nazi sym- of Cherry, a novel written by British
clashed with officials at Concordia pathizer in Roanoke, Virginia—urge author Charlotte Cooper, reported Out
University in Montreal over whether people to “take violent action” against in America, an online news source for
he had permission to read his novel Warman and provide Warman’s home homosexuals, in August 2006. At least
on campus. North of 9/11 describes address. CONTINUED ON PAGE 6



CONTINUED FROM PAGE 5 also said that Indigo and its subsidiary tion of ownership has reached levels
two bookstores in British Columbia— companies would inspect future issues that few other countries would con-
Bleeding Rose in Victoria and Little to determine their suitability for sale. sider acceptable.”
Sister’s Book and Art Emporium in In late May, Indigo withdrew the June The report’s summary said: “an
Vancouver—were importing the novel. issue of Harper’s from newsstands. The important element of a free press is
Officials at Canada Customs said American magazine had reproduced all that there be a variety of different
that Cherry, which depicts the sexual 12 of the cartoons about the Muslim sources of news and opinion. This can
adventures of a lesbian in London, was prophet Mohammed that had appeared only be guaranteed if there is a plurali-
obscene. in Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspa- ty of owners. The country will be poorly
INTERNET RACIST JAILED FOR per, in September 2005. Harper’s had served if as few as one, two or three
CONTEMPT OF COURT also published a critical essay by famed groups control substantial portions of
cartoonist Art Spiegelman about con- the news and information media in par-
troversial cartoons. ticular markets or within the country
and jailed Tomasz Winnicki, a white
On May 26, Indigo instructed its as a whole. In simple terms, there is a
supremacist in Ontario, for contempt
managers by e-mail on how to respond public interest in having a plurality of
of court. Winnicki had ignored an order
“if customers question Indigo’s censor- owners.”
(dated October 6, 2005) of the Federal
ship” of Harper’s: “the content about The report recommended that
Court of Canada to stop spreading race
to be published has been known to the federal government reform the
hatred over the Internet.
ignite demonstrations around the Competition Act to require automatic
On July 12, 2006, Justice Konrad von
world. Indigo [and its subsidiaries] reviews of big media mergers, but the
Finckenstein of the Federal Court of
Chapters and Coles will not carry this report explicitly rejected government
Canada declared: “[Winnicki’s messag-
particular issue of the magazine but “interference in the editorial or internal
es] have the same vile content and the
will continue to carry other issues of working of news gathering organiza-
unrelenting message of hatred for Jews
this publication in the future.” tions.”
and contempt for people of the Black
race and/or immigrants. He has shown
no remorse for his contempt.”
Winnicki received nine months in
Court of Appeal ruled that Hugh Surrey’s school board rejected the
INDIGO REJECTS SALE OF Owens, a Christian, did not violate the proposed use in the earliest elemen-
CONTROVERSIAL MAGAZINES province’s human rights code when tary grades of a children’s book with
ON JULY 6, 2006, INDIGO BOOKS he placed an anti-homosexual ad in a homosexual theme. The book, King
and Music, Canada’s largest book and Saskatoon’s StarPhoenix in 1997. and King by Linda de Haan and Stern
magazine retailer, declared that it had The ad displayed two stick-men hold- Nijland, tells the story of two princes
accidentally dropped the June-July ing hands within a circular “banned” who get married in a fairy-tale kingdom.
issue of Free Inquiry, a magazine pub- symbol and cited four anti-homosexual Doug Strachan, a spokesman for the
lished in the United States. The issue verses in the Bible. The newspaper ran school district, said staff rejected King
of Free Inquiry contained an essay the ad during a gay pride celebration in and King because the writing and style
entitled “The Freedom to Ridicule Saskatchewan. of the book were too sophisticated for
Religion—and Deny the Holocaust” by readers in kindergarten and the first
Peter Singer, a professor at Princeton SENATORS WARN OF FEWER three grades. Strachan said that staff
University. OWNERS AND FEWER VOICES had not rejected King and King for its
Joel Silver, Indigo’s senior vice-presi- ON JUNE 21, 2006, THE CANADIAN “sensitive content.”
dent of print procurement, apologized Senate’s Standing Committee on “The idea that this book is too
to Tom Flynn, Free Inquiry’s editor, for Transport and Communications sophisticated for these kids is ridicu-
the accident and pledged to sell the released its Final Report on the lous,” said Joan Beecroft of Egale
issue. Earlier in the week, however, Canadian News Media. The two-volume Canada, a gay advocacy organization.
Flynn had reported that Indigo had report, which was the result of more “Is Hansel and Gretel too sophisticated
refused to stock the June-July issue than three years of study, said that in because it deals with a witch wanting
without giving him a reason. Flynn some parts of Canada “the concentra- to eat little children? Is Snow White

6 | FREEDOM T O R E A D 2007
too sophisticated because the Queen charge was dropped in January 2006.
attempts to murder Snow White? How In 1989, Pamuk was also the first
can the love of two princes be too prominent writer in the Muslim world
sophisticated for primary learners?” to defend Salman Rushdie for publish-


James Chamberlain, a primary ing The Satanic Verses. In February of
schoolteacher in Surrey, had sub- that year, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
mitted King and King for use in of Iran condemned Rushdie and his
Surrey’s schools. From 1997 to 2002, publishers to death for producing the
Chamberlain and others successfully novel.
challenged the Surrey school board
in the courts when the board refused Dr. Ramin Jahanbegloo
to use three similar children’s picture ON OCTOBER 7, 2006, ANNA
Politkovskaya, an investigative journal- Immediately after his release,
books with homosexual themes in
ist whose work criticized the Russian Jahanbegloo said to Iranian student
kindergarten and Grade 1.
war in Chechnya and Russian President journalists that his scholarly work
Vladimir Putin, was gunned down in had been misused by foreign intel-
INTERNATIONAL Moscow in apparent reprisal for her ligence agencies hostile to the Islamic
reporting. No arrests were made. Republic of Iran. Iranian authorities
In 1999, Politkovskaya began writ- may confiscate Jahanbegloo’s house
ing for Novaya Gazeta about the war and his mother’s house if he violates
in Chechnya. By her own admission, the conditions of his release.
she became obsessed with exposing
the killings, torture, and beatings of
civilians by Russian soldiers there. In
2003, she published A Small Corner of ON JULY 10, 2006, REPORTERS
Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya and, Without Borders called for a new and
in 2004, she published A Dirty War: proper investigation into the death of
A Russian Reporter in Chechnya. She photojournalist Zahra Kazemi in Iran.
received many death threats. In 2003, Kazemi, an Iranian-born
Politkovskaya won numerous interna- Canadian citizen, was imprisoned for

tional awards for her courage, including taking photographs of a student-led

Sweden’s Olof Palme Prize in 2004. The demonstration outside Evin prison in
prize honoured her work for the “long Tehran. She died in prison on July 11,
Orhan Pamuk
battle for human rights in Russia.” 2003, after having been raped and tor-
CONTROVERSIAL TURKISH tured by Iranian authorities.
ON OCTOBER 12, 2006, THE SWEDISH FREED FROM PRISON appeal in Tehran upheld the acquittal
Academy awarded the Nobel Prize ON AUGUST 30, 2006, IRANIAN of Reza Aghdam Ahmadi for murdering
for Literature to Turkish writer Orhan authorities released Ramin Kazemi.
Pamuk. His best-known novels include Jahanbegloo, an Iranian-born Canadian
Snow and My Name Is Red. citizen, on bail from Evin prison in LIBRARIANS NAME THE MOST
Pamuk is also known for his clashes Tehran. They had detained Jahanbegloo CHALLENGED BOOK IN AMERICA
with Turkey’s government and Turkish four months earlier for drafting a pro- ON MARCH 7, 2006, THE AMERICAN
nationalists. In 2005, he told a Swiss posal for the German Marshall Fund of Library Association reported that pub-
newspaper that “thirty thousand Kurds the United States, an institution that lic libraries and schools in the United
and a million Armenians were killed promotes co-operation between the States had received 405 formal, written
in these lands, and nobody but me United States and Europe. Jahanbegloo challenges to books in 2005. The most
dares to talk about it.” Pamuk was had compared Iranian and Eastern frequently challenged book was Robie
charged in a Turkish court with “insult- European intellectuals, and he had Harris’s It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing
ing Turkishness” and faced a possible discussed the role a civil society could Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual
three years in prison, although the play in the overthrow of a government. Health, an educational book for kids. •



Free Speech Limits in an


OLICY OPTIONS at Birth II.” The tastelessness of the
declared 2006 the “year “jest,” as Klander called it, was mag-
of the blog.” The maga- nified by his role as the executive
zine noted that Canadian vice-president of the Ontario Liberal
blogs broke major stories, party and by bloggers digging through
zapped politicians, and became a form Klander’s previous posts to—as the
of digital newsroom that sometimes CBC’s John Bowman put it—“publish
outperformed its print and broadcast more information on the topic than any
counterparts. newspaper ever could.”

“Blogs are certainly part of the future As the “year of the blog” wound
of journalism,” claims Nick Packwood, down, Garth Turner, the MP for Halton,
who blogs at Ghost of a Flea. “‘Blog Ontario, was ousted from the federal
swarms’ provide massively distrib- Conservative party caucus, in part
uted/networked editing expertise that because of his comments on his blog
should improve both journalism as a about party policies. One of Turner’s
profession and journalism as the out- constituents in Milton attended the
put of that profession.” press conference the day after Turner’s
ouster and blogged on the event.
One such swarm happened at the
end of 2005 and heralded the begin- “Blogging is about a conversation
ning of the “year of the blog.” On with the masses ...” he wrote. “It is
Mike Klander’s blog, photos of New what I want from my elected officials.
Democratic candidate Olivia Chow and I do not want press releases and
a chow chow dog were posted above filtered fluff.” The constituent’s post
the caption “Chow and Chow Chow” on The Nears expressed what some
and below the headline “Separated people feel is the strength of blogs:

8 | FREEDOM T O R E A D 2007
the democratization of information enough hassle lately that puts the laws in response to Kinsella’s lawsuit.
through technology and the impor- whole site in jeopardy. I will be looking He also wondered, “Is this an attempt
tance of the “citizen journalist.” into a registration process ... but I also at suppressing criticism? Is it there-
Some blogs attempt to go beyond do not have the time or inclination to fore a threat to all bloggers and com-
the contraints of the mainstream media check for increasing libellous material menters? ... This will be a big wake-up
(or MSM as it’s called in the blogo- so (I’m) not even sure that will solve call: defamation suits can stem from
sphere) to provide in-depth informa- the problems.” conversations too, and so every post
tion. How’d They Vote? gave readers As Michael Geist, a professor of law and every comment on a blog is subject
the complete voting and speaking at the University of Ottawa, notes: “In to the same defamation laws.”
records of every MP. Cory Horner, an Canada, under common law, the third Steve Janke gained notoriety for
electrical engineer in Kamloops, British party can be held liable if the content using his blog, Angry in the Great
Columbia, designed software that lets is found to be defamatory. The ISPs White North, to circumvent a press ban
readers find out how many words their [Internet Service Providers] will take issued during closed testimony of the
MP uttered and how many times their content down based merely on an alle- Gomery inquiry—a ban that included
MP missed a vote during the 2004–05 gation that the content is defamatory.” the Internet as well as print and broad-
sitting of the House of Commons. Geist believes this legislation creates a cast media.1 Janke linked to Captain’s
Another blogger, going only by the free speech chill in cyberspace because Quarters, an American blog that was
handle Buckets of Grewal, laboriously it is less risky for ISPs or Web sites to posting leaked transcripts of Gomery
studied transcriptions of conversa- remove content than to keep it up and testimony. Although many bloggers
tions recorded by Germant Grewal, the attract legal action. and mainstream journalists knew of
Conservative MP who claimed that he Geist points to the example of People Captain’s Quarters, none posted links
had been offered rewards for cross- to People (at, which was or mentioned the name of the blog on
ing the floor to join the Liberals. The sued by the owner of Kazaa for posting air for fear of reprisals.
Liberal party denied the allegations: allegedly defamatory comments about
“At first, I dropped my links like just
tapes and transcripts were released to Kazaa by People to People readers.
about everyone else. I was worried
the press, and Buckets began the ardu- Geist calls for a change in the law to
about the legal ramifications of break-
ous task of comparing and contrasting provide immunity for ISPs and bloggers
ing the ban,” says Janke. “But most of
the various transcriptions in circulation. “who are contributing to a robust on-
all, I wanted to take a stand that might
Bending the customs of the main- line dialogue but today are vulnerable
change the way Canadian authorities
stream press by electronically publish- to lawsuits whose primary purpose
in government and in the judiciary
ing arcana such as Hansard data, audio may be to suppress free speech.”
deal with issues that affect our right to
tapes, or Photoshopped dogs is one Mark Bourrie became famous judge for ourselves. And so the links
thing, but bloggers are discovering amongst Canadian bloggers for legal went back up, as did the commentary.”
that their amateur efforts are held to run-ins with political blogger Warren
the same legal standard as anything Kinsella in February 2006. It is beyond Justice John Gomery eventually
printed with ink on dead trees. the scope of this article to fully delin- lifted most of the ban, leading at least
eate their entanglements, which were one columnist, Rondi Adamson in the
Sometimes it’s not the content of the
reported in the Ottawa Sun on February Christian Science Monitor, to speculate
blog, but comments posted about the
15. Suffice it to say: a settlement that the blogosphere played no small
content, that cause trouble. Comments
was eventually reached. Kinsella—a role in changing his mind.
Please—a page devoted to posting
comments by readers of bloggers such lawyer, author, and former advisor to
And while there are challenges for
as Maclean’s political columnist Paul Prime Minister Jean Chrétien—became
people who hit legal walls in their pur-
Wells, Toronto Star media columnist famous amongst bloggers for his rigor-
suit of on-line freedom, the potential
Antonia Zerbisias, and comedian Rick ous pursuit of what he perceives to be
for renewed debate and journalistic
Mercer—closed up shop in March 2006 defamatory statements about him in
vigor has returned to the people who
because of host Andrew Clark’s fear the blogosphere.
stand to benefit the most. •
of legal reprisals. Zerbisias quoted Ted Betts, a lawyer who blogs at
1 Justice John Gomery chaired the Commission
Clark in her blog (Azerbic at thestar., post- of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and as saying, “I’ve had ed a primer on Canada’s defamation Advertising Activities in 2004–06. – FC




The Dispute Over THREE WISHES

in Ontario’s Schools

N FEBRUARY 8, 2006, THE March 15, 2006, at least five school
Canadian Jewish Congress boards had set restrictions on readers
(CJC) sent a letter to the of the book in the elementary grades.
Ontario Library Association The news media covered the contro-
(OLA) strongly objecting versy for weeks. Here, the participants
to the use of a children’s book called explain their views.
Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli
Children Speak in the OLA’s Silver Birch
reading program in schools.
Deborah Ellis, Author
Three Wishes is a non-fiction book.
It records the thoughts and feelings of
not all children are equal.
Israeli and Palestinian children who live
in a world of strife and violence. The We mark and mourn military
book’s author, Deborah Ellis, is a win- deaths, but the deaths of civil-
ner of the Governor General’s Literary ians go unnamed, uncounted,
Award. and passed off as extra-collateral
damage, part of the acceptable risk of Three Wishes by Deborah Ellis
The Silver Birch reading program (Groundwood Books, 2004) Cover photographs
achieving our objectives. by David Turnley (Corbis/Magma) and
encourages children in Grades 4–6 in Micah Walter (Corbis/Magma)
Ontario’s schools to read from a list of Some children are so precious, we
20 books. Professional librarians select would gladly die rather than see them crimes in a sensitive, respectful way.
the books for their quality. Schools do harmed. Other children are considered Otherwise, we are adding to the silence
not require students to take part in the worthy only of slavery, eating garbage, and the disappearance of the victims.
Silver Birch program, but more than and being human punching bags.
The books we read as children stay
40,000 students do. In May, children This is the world that we, as a human with us our entire lives, taking root in
vote for their favourite book. community, have created. We’re happy our minds, helping us to decide who
The CJC’s letter said that Ellis pro- with it. If we weren’t, we would have we will become. Free access to infor-
vided a flawed historical introduction changed it, since we certainly have the mation, to a wide variety of voices and
to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The ability to do so. We like being igno- experiences, is essential to us being
letter also said that some children rant. We like being greedy, and we like able to decipher the complexities of a
portrayed Israeli soldiers as brutal, having an underclass of throwaway crazy world—and to understand that
expressed ethnic hatred, and glori- children. the world is complex.
fied suicide bombing. The effect on We created this mess, so why be I have done many school talks
Canadian readers in Grades 4–6, the delicate about having our handiwork around my books about children in war.
letter concluded, was “toxic.” The reflected in our literature for young Kids can handle the truth about what is
CJC asked the OLA to withdraw Three people? If children are tough enough to being done to other children. It’s adults
Wishes from the Silver Birch program. be bombed and starved, then they are who get squeamish. They say, “We
The letter also said that the CJC also tough enough to read about it. must protect our children from such
would be notifying school boards I believe anything we subject chil- things,” when really they are protecting
across Ontario about its concerns. Not dren to should be reflected in our liter- themselves from having to answer the
long afterward, school boards began ature for young people, limited only by question: “What are you doing to make
to review the use of Three Wishes. By the skills of the writer to present these the world better?”

10 | F R E E D O M T O R E A D 2007
Len Rudner, Canadian THREE WISHES:
Jewish Congress Canadian Children Speak
IN FEBRUARY 2006, A TEACHER AT “SWEARING IN BOOKS doesn’t encourage people to swear, drugs in
the York Region District School Board books don’t encourage people to take drugs, and suicide bombing and
approached the Canadian Jewish other violence in books don’t encourage people to be violent! [The book]
Congress, Ontario Region (CJC), just tells them that there are such things and makes them aware of the
expressing concerns about the appro- facts, not the fictional.”
priateness of including the book Three —J., A GRADE 5 STUDENT
Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children
Speak as an entry in the Ontario “WHY IS THIS BOOK being taken off the lists? There is nothing wrong with
Library Association’s (OLA) Silver Birch it. It is a great book! As far as I am concerned, it’s totally unfair. Would it not
independent reading program for be more appropriate to simply leave it up to the parents as to whether or not
children in Grades 4 through 6. their children should read this book? I think this is a mistake by the school
board in removing this book. If parents say no, then it is a no!
CJC professionals as well as lay
“By the way, some people have said that it’s not accurate information as
leaders with extensive background in
it comes from the children, not the adults. This is not an information book!
public education reviewed the mate-
If you look at the cover, it says Children Speak! ... And children can relate to
rial and agreed. The CJC then wrote a
each other much better than a child can relate to an adult.”
letter to the OLA and English-language
school boards in Ontario expressing its
concerns about the book’s appropriate- “USUALLY I PICK UP A BOOK and read it from cover to cover without putting
ness for the age group in question and it down. But this book, like Anne Frank’s Diary, is so sad, I had to read it
requesting that it re-evaluate its clas- in short little chunks, maybe four stories at a time. It’s really hard to read
sification. because you don’t know if these kids are still alive, or if they will be for
much longer, and you want to understand how scared they are, but you can’t
While some have characterized the
really because you’ve never been through as much as they have.
CJC’s intervention as being censorious,
the facts are contrary to that conclu- “Everybody should know about war, and it shouldn’t be censored. It pre-
sion. The goal was to promote a discus- pares you for real life, when you’ll have to learn things like this.”
sion and have school boards actively —C., A GRADE 6 STUDENT
review whether the book was appropri-
ate for promotion to kids between the As a result of the CJC’s request to preted by some as a demand that it be
ages of 9 and 12. That many did so was examine the age-appropriateness of removed from the shelf completely.
a positive outcome. Three Wishes, a number of school Len Rudner is national director of
The CJC’s position was that the effect boards conducted their own assess- community relations for the Canadian
of the statements made by the children ment and stopped promoting the Jewish Congress.
in Ms. Ellis’s book would demonize book as part of Silver Birch or placed
both Palestinians and Israelis and that certain conditions on its use. Others
comments made in some interviews determined no changes were required. The Toronto District
could be seen as supportive of sui- Regardless of outcome, the CJC School Board
cide bombing. Following a careful and accepted each board’s judgment on
extensive review, the CJC felt such a the matter.
individuals are made to the Toronto
message was inappropriate for stu- It is unfortunate the debate that District School Board (TDSB) regard-
dents in the primary grades to which developed around Three Wishes was ing the appropriateness of learn-
it had been promoted, particularly inaccurately portrayed as a struggle ing resources in school libraries or
because the Silver Birch program does between freedom of expression and classrooms, a formal process begins
not require teacher involvement to censorship. It is a pity that a good- to open dialogue. This process is in
provide information or context on the faith request to have a particular book accordance with established Board
books in the program. moved to a higher shelf was inter- CONTINUED ON PAGE 12



CONTINUED FROM PAGE 11 recommended, with reservations, as my family perished in the Holocaust.
policy: Operational Procedure C-007, appropriate only for students in Grades Those who survived emigrated to
Handling Concerns About Learning 7 and up. either the United States or Israel after
Resources as outlined in A Teaching the war. All this happened prior to my
Resource for Dealing with Controversial birth, but I have been raised with an
wishes to read Three Wishes may do so
and Sensitive Issues in Toronto District awareness of the issues surround-
by requesting a copy from the teacher-
School Board Classrooms. ing being Jewish and the formation of
librarian who, in consultation with the
Israel as a sovereign state. I bring this
In 2006, such a complaint and pro- principal, will place copies of Three
background to any and all reading that
cess was followed by the TDSB regard- Wishes in the library office.
I do on this subject.
ing Three Wishes by Deborah Ellis, a
nominee in this year’s OLA Silver Birch This book is not about who is right
teacher-librarian, in consultation with
Award program. and which side started the aggres-
the principal, must redistribute copies
sion, but about what the effect is
A Review Committee must weigh of Three Wishes to elementary schools
on our most vulnerable members of
several factors (e.g., the complainant’s with Grade 7 and 8 students or to sec-
society, namely children, when con-
arguments, previous decisions, the ondary schools.
flict and war erupt. The book could be
Board’s criteria for selection of learn-
5. WHEN INTRODUCING THE BOOK set in any number of places around
ing resources) against the perceived
and encouraging discussion, teach- the world—the Sudan, the Balkans,
appropriateness of the resource. As in
ers and teacher-librarians will provide Northern Ireland, Rwanda, and—it
most school settings, the right to read
context and diverse resources from the could be argued—“hot spots” within
is not absolute and must be measured
library collection. North America. It shows that children
against whether learning resources
raised in conflict are conflicted in their
match the learning needs and abilities 6. THE TDSB SUPPORTS THE ONTARIO
views and that, if they live in hate-filled
of students (e.g., age, maturity, cur- Library Association in its Silver Birch
atmospheres, they learn to hate.
riculum relevance, and Board values). program and requests that non-fiction
The TDSB does not ban materials, but selections be added in its Forest of As an educator reading the book
it reserves its right and responsibility Reading programs at upper grades. for the selection committee, I felt that
in making them accessible in the most Deborah Ellis did not purposefully
appropriate way in diverse school set- leave out any details to skew the view
tings. of the book; the book is not an attempt
After due deliberation, the Review
Peggy Thomas, Ontario to provide the complex historical
Committee recommended the Library Association facts surrounding the current situa-
following: tion in Israel and Palestine. The book
THREE WISHES: PALESTINIAN AND attempts, rather, to provide a frame-
1.THREE WISHES IS A SIGNIFICANT Israeli Children Speak by Deborah Ellis work or context of conflict and war, and
and controversial book that depicts was nominated for the 2006 Silver the effect that they have on the chil-
the effects of conflict on children. The Birch non-fiction award. The Ontario dren living the reality of that conflict.
author’s purpose is to promote dia- Community Relations Committee of
logue and empathy for the children the Canadian Jewish Congress chal- Three Wishes gives children, at the
of the conflict by giving them a voice. lenged the selection of Three Wishes time when they are constructing their
While questions have arisen about and asked that the book be removed views of the world, a chance to explore
particular details the author includes from consideration for the Silver Birch and relate to how they can start to
or excludes in Three Wishes, TDSB award. They forwarded this request make positive changes in a world
students have demonstrated that they to the Ontario Library Association and fraught with conflict, and how they can
have understood the author’s larger to the directors of education of all the choose to lead lives formed in peace. •
purpose. school boards in Ontario. I chaired the This is an edited version of an article
2. THE AGE APPROPRIATENESS OF selection committee for Silver Birch written by Peggy Thomas for the
such complex and sensitive material this year, and this is my personal reac- Ontario Library Association’s Web
remains an important issue in TDSB tion to that challenge. site. Thomas is a teacher-librarian in
schools. Three Wishes, therefore, is I am Jewish, and a good portion of Ontario.

12 | F R E E D O M T O R E A D 2007

Digital Davids v. Global Goliaths

BY GREG SIMPSON the world. Deibert started the lab

ROFESSOR RON DEIBERT in 2001 with a grant from the Ford
of the University of Foundation and hired Villeneuve—
Toronto is proud to be based on his student papers on
called a “hacker.” Internet censorship in China—as
the lab’s technical director.
“Hacking used to mean
that you were interested in technology Deibert, 42, is a self-professed ex-
and what was behind the surface—you punk from East Vancouver turned
didn’t accept things at face value,” political science professor. He is
says Deibert. He wants to reclaim the very concerned with the accelera-
positive ideas behind hacking in the tion of censorship on the Internet.
same way he wants to reclaim the “The Internet is not this seamless
original ideals of the free exchange of frontier anymore,” he says. “It is a
citizens about
information that are the underpinnings network that has all sorts of filters,
Internet censorship and
of the Internet. choke points, and other areas where
surveillance, and to help them fight it.
“We live in a world surrounded by governments and corporations can
A software program, called psiphon,
computers, cell phones, and televi- control, intercept, and block access to
was developed to allow users in cen-
sions,” he says. “There are all kinds information.”
sored countries to link up with the
of points in the system where govern- He and Villeneuve have joined computers of trusted family members
ments and corporations can exert con- researchers at such prominent universi- or friends in uncensored countries and
trol over us if we don’t question it and ties as Harvard, Oxford, and Cambridge to use those computers as servers
try to understand it.” to form the OpenNet Initiative, which or proxies to surf the Internet. When
As the Internet revolution spreads just received a US$3 million MacArthur people use psiphon, no government
into developing nations, many govern- Foundation grant to research what official can discover what sites are
ments want to control their citizens’ gets filtered on the Internet, in which being accessed, and there is no sign
access to the increased flow of infor- country, and by whom. Diebert and of the program on the computer if it is
mation. Governments use filtering Villeneuve were the catalysts for the ever seized.
(censorship) and monitoring (eaves- creation of this international project,
Deibert and Villeneuve launched
dropping) tools, many purchased from and they act as the technical team in
psiphon in December 2006, creating
Western software companies. the coalition.
personal electronic “social networks”
The most prominent of these offi- OpenNet’s research has revealed between those in developed and devel-
cial censors is Chinese Premier Hu extensive censorship affecting millions oping countries and those living under
Jintao with his “Great Firewall,” which of people around the world. Millions censorship and the comparatively free.
restricts Internet access for China’s might have access to the Internet with Deibert sees Canada, with its multi-
more than 150 million surfers. However, cheaper and more accessible technol- cultural communities and their many
filtering and monitoring happen in ogy, but their governments are doing links to other countries, as the perfect
many other countries too, including everything to limit what citizens see place to create these electronic “help-
Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Singapore, and when they log on. ing hands.” Psiphon was designed so
Burma. Citizen Lab has another project that that the average person can easily use
Professor Deibert and his student it hopes may combat these increasing his or her computer to foster Internet
Nart Villeneuve run the Citizen Lab at restrictions. CiviSec is the activist “flip- freedom for friends and relatives back
U. of T. where they research and try to side” of the research focus of OpenNet; home.
combat Internet censorship all over CiviSec’s purpose is to raise awareness CONTINUED ON PAGE 14



even compared to the U.S. with all its

security concerns since 9/11.”
No one is keeping track of what is
being filtered and for what reasons,
Deibert claims, and there is little demo-
cratic control over these activities in
Canada. “We need to lift the lid off the
Internet and hold those who set the
rules of the game accountable for what
they’re doing because these activities
are going on largely in secret.”
“THE PROBLEM WITH INTERNET Once a country has implemented
FILTERING IS NOBODY IS WATCHING Internet censorship with initially
“good” intentions, it becomes tempting
THE WATCHERS ...” to use the same technology to restrict
other information. Thailand brought in
— RON DEIBERT, Professor, University of Toronto
filtering programs to block sites about
its notorious sex-tourism trade and
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 13 flict studies. He eventually transferred soon afterward blocked sites about
Villeneuve, the creator of this anti- to the University of Toronto, where human rights and government corrup-
censorship software, is a decade he became a student of Professor tion.
younger than Deibert and, coinci- Deibert’s. Villeneuve now travels all
Villeneuve says that it’s difficult
dentally, spent some of his formative over the world studying and combat-
for Western governments to pressure
years in rough East Vancouver. He was ting Internet censorship.
other nations to keep the Internet free
a self-admitted lousy student who, Villeneuve is extremely concerned and open when Western governments
upon graduation, worked at a dead- about the creeping government filter- are using many of the same censor-
end printer’s job. His reading of Noam ing and monitoring tactics that are ing tactics, although not in quite such
Chomsky and Karl Marx opened his being used all over the world. Even in a repressive fashion. He believes the
eyes to global repression. He became Western nations such as Canada and West would have more credibility if it
an anti-globalization activist, taking the United States, the wars against cleaned up its own government censor-
part in many protests, including the child pornography, hate speech, and ship and monitoring.
1999 protests in Seattle against the terrorism are being used to justify
World Trade Organization. increased blocking of sites and moni- According to Deibert, protecting
toring of Internet traffic. Both Deibert freedom on the Internet is espe-
When Villeneuve first signed on to
and Villeneuve agree that child pornog- cially important because “it is the one
the Internet using an ancient free dial-
raphy is indefensible, but filtering the unique medium that links individuals
up service, a hacker was born. He and
Internet is a crude and easily abused to other individuals worldwide, unlike
a roommate taught themselves how to
technique. Some attempts at restric- television, radio, and newspapers,
get rid of the banner advertisements
tion lead to “overblocking” where sites which all send information one way
that came with the service and how to
unrelated to the targetted sites are and only have certain points of views
extend the hours to allow unlimited
blocked: in Pennsylvania, for example, expressed.”
surfing time. These primitive attempts
to “fight the power” made them mem- attempts to block 200 sites resulted in “In light of all the problems that face
bers of the on-line communities of the blocking of more than two million humanity—from nuclear weapons to
hackers and Internet freedom advo- innocent sites. environmental degradation—we need
cates. “The problem with Internet filtering to have a free space to exchange infor-
This initial pushing against the is nobody is watching the watchers,” mation if we’re going to have any hope
boundaries opened a new world for says Deibert. “There is little citizen of solving those problems.” •
Villeneuve. Before he knew it, he was oversight in Canada over governmental Greg Simpson is a Toronto writer with
back in college taking peace-and-con- Internet censorship and surveillance, an interest in arts, culture, and media.

14 | F R E E D O M T O R E A D 2007

Canadians Debate the Dissemination of

Denmark’s Mohammed Cartoons

N SEPTEMBER 30, 2005,
Jyllands-Posten, a Danish
newspaper, published 12
cartoons of the Muslim
prophet Mohammed. One
image showed him wearing a turban
shaped like a bomb. Many Muslims,
who regard any depiction of their
prophet as sacrilegious, were outraged
or upset.
The cartoons were reprinted in many
countries in January and February
2006, prompting deadly protests
throughout the Muslim world. In Syria,
Iran, and Indonesia, mobs destroyed “ WHY SHOULD WE INSULT AND UPSET
Danish embassies; in Lebanon, a
mob destroyed the Danish consul-
ate. Peaceful Muslim demonstrations
also occurred around the world, and
Muslims boycotted Danish products. —TONY BURMAN, editor-in-chief, CBC News
In Canada, journalists debated
whether to show the cartoons in the financial health, or simply out of fear
or Islam. The cartoons were Exhibit A in
news media. In this section, four of a politically correct backlash. Other
the biggest news story of the season:
Canadians—three journalists and one excuses were proffered: the cartoons
the riots around the Muslim world,
university president—present their were too disrespectful, or too juvenile,
riots that had as their “official” raison
arguments for and against showing or unimportant to the story. None of
d’être the cartoons themselves. In
the cartoons to the public. those excuses is credible. Criticisms
fact, that was the sole newsworthiness
of the cartoons: that they were the that the cartoons were poorly drawn or
“cause” of riots. juvenile are not a rationale for censor-
Why the Western ship—they actually magnify the news-
Standard Published The cartoons are, by any Western
worthiness of riots in the face of such
standard, bland. One simply depicted
the Cartoons a man in the desert with a donkey—a
trivial offences.
BY EZRA LEVANT picture that would not be out of place The media, which is liberal to the
THE WESTERN STANDARD HAD NO in a child’s Bible. Several had a politi- point of libertine when it comes to
complex rationale for printing the cal edge to them, but nothing more offending religion, became quite fun-
Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed. ribald than is seen in daily newspapers damentalist on the subject of Islam.
The cartoons were news; we are a across the West. There are two possible explanations:
newsmagazine. That’s about it. the first is that the cartoons were so
But soon the larger story emerged:
outrageous that even a media culture
We did not print them as an expres- that other media censored themselves
sion of our own views on Mohammed out of fear for their physical safety or CONTINUED ON PAGE 16



CONTINUED FROM PAGE 15 to our panelists in the studio for their Christ or the Virgin Mary engaged in
saturated with sex and violence was reactions. Viewer reactions were mixed: unspeakably offensive acts?
pushed too far. The other explanation we got plenty of supportive and some
Had they been Christian protesters,
is that a media culture that so bravely negative e-mail. Most of the outraged
would the media have treated them
fights against harmless foes like long- people were non-Muslims.
differently? Would we, perhaps, have
dead Senator McCarthy is actually
The story did not die, and we faced understood their rage a bit better?
terrified of radical Islam, and when it is
the decision of whether to air them At the CBC, we decided not to show
time to prove their freedom bona fides,
again. We did not. By that time the the original cartoons in our extensive
hides under a smokescreen of “respect
story had subtly shifted to whether or coverage of the controversy. We felt
for religion” bromides.
not it was good to publish them. By air- that we could easily describe the draw-
No, the Western Standard doesn’t ing them a second time, we’d be mak- ings in simple and clear English with-
have to explain how we handled the ing a political statement and, as a pub- out actually showing them. This was
newsworthy cartoons. But a lot of other lic broadcaster, we’re not in the busi- intended, without embarrassment, as
editors and producers do. ness of making political statements. an act of respect not only for Islam but
Ezra Levant is the publisher and co- We’re not idiots; we knew we were for all religions.
founder of the Western Standard, a going to offend people. But you can’t Why should we insult and upset
political journal in Calgary. have the right not to be offended an important part of our audience
in this world. Journalists can’t walk for absolutely no public value? We
around with a list of what’s offensive wouldn’t have done that if it involved
Why TVOntario Broadcast or forbidden. My belief is, you interfere overt examples of racism or anti-
the Cartoons as little as possible with a story. Other Semitism or libel. Where do we draw
than direct incitements to murder or the line? Shouldn’t the media be part
mob violence, I say lay off the limits to of the solution, not the problem?
One of the main U.S. networks high-
Fridays, and the episode that week was
Dan Dunsky was senior producer of lighted the most egregious of the car-
about Iran’s nuclear program. But the
Diplomatic Immunity on TVOntario and toons in its news report and repeated
story about the cartoons was starting
is now the executive producer of The these images in the headlines and
to break, so by Wednesday, we started
Agenda with Steve Paikin on TVOntario. promotion during its evening newscast.
researching that story. On Thursday,
During the debate that led to this deci-
the story made the evening news, and
sion, I suspect there was a lot of talk
by Friday the issue was the protests
about “freedom of speech” and “the
about the cartoons, so I told another Why CBC News Drew
public’s right to know” and about the
DI producer to find the cartoons on the the Line threat of “self-censorship.”
Web for use on air.
BY TONY BURMAN Had I been there, I would have
I think we were the only major broad-
THE 12 CARTOONS IN QUESTION WERE reminded this crowd that the multi-bil-
caster in Canada who did air the car-
originally printed in a Danish publica- lion dollar company that owns their
toons. It was never a big decision at all.
tion last September [2005] and reprint- news organization muzzles stories
I discussed it with the show’s executive
ed recently in other European news- from entire parts of the world, such as
producer for about 20 seconds. This
papers. Not only did they depict the South America and Africa, each and
was a news story: people were rioting
Prophet in drawings, these cartoons every night of the year by not having
over something; if we knew what that
equated him with terrorists and suicide any journalists posted there. When will
something was, of course we were
bombers among other things. Looking they get around to discussing that form
going to show it. That’s 100 per cent in
at them in their crude portrayal, they of media “censorship”?
keeping with journalistic principles and
guidelines. We still did our show about seem more an act of stupidity than an We need to be held accountable for
Iran, but we gave the last five to ten act of satire, but—whatever they were what we choose to include or exclude.
minutes to the cartoons. Steve Paikin, intended to be—they are not subtle. For how we frame the issues or dodge
the host, introduced them and we What if those cartoons had instead them.
showed about seven of them and went focused on Christianity? And on Jesus This is an edited version of an article

16 | F R E E D O M T O R E A D 2007
posted on Tony Burman is My assessment was that there were call: press freedom versus public
the editor-in-chief of CBC News. great risks for UPEI and for our learning disorder and religious humiliation.
environment and that the publication Some will say that we made the
of the cartoons was a reckless invita- wrong call. ... While I respect others
Why the University of PEI tion to disorder and humiliation. Based who take a different view on this, I am
on this assessment, it was decided not
Blocked a Newspaper’s to permit the distribution of The Cadre
absolutely convinced that our learning
environment is better for having lim-
Distribution on UPEI property. Fewer than 100 cop- ited the publication of the caricatures.
[The Cadre, a student newspaper at ies of the paper were gathered up by Students and colleagues are talking, in
the University of Prince Edward Island UPEI security personnel. There were and out of class, about religious beliefs
(UPEI), was one of the few Canadian approximately 200 in circulation by and differences and about press free-
newspapers to reprint the cartoons. that time. Seventeen hundred copies dom and responsibility. We are more
But the university’s administration of the paper remained in the hands of alert to how intricately UPEI and PEI
acted to prevent distribution of The The Cadre or the Student Union. By are laced into the global context and
Cadre.—FC] late Wednesday, the Student Union, to the incendiary nature of our world.
as owner of The Cadre, indicated its
BY WADE MACLAUCHLAN However we come out on the publica-
opposition to the publication of the
tion or non-publication of the carica-
WHEN THE NEWS BROKE ON CBC THAT caricatures and requested the return
tures, we cannot avoid the conclusion
the cartoons were in the February 8th of the papers.
that things are very fragile. In a context
issue of The Cadre, making it the first UPEI could defend the editorial
of such fragility, we do not have the
Canadian paper to publish them, I was autonomy of the student newspaper,
luxury of justifying every act by saying:
shocked. Why should we choose to or it could take a stand that we would
“Let the chips fall where they may.” •
repeat an act that had caused so much not permit the circulation on our cam-
offence and trouble around the world pus of images that have caused Wade MacLauchlan is the president
and that was considered a religious religious offence and significant disor- and vice-chancellor of the University of
insult by Muslims everywhere? der all over the world. It is not an easy Prince Edward Island.

Varieties of Censorship
BY FRANKLIN CARTER Censors are with us today too. But Censorship is therefore necessary,

they usually don’t describe themselves the censors believe, to protect soci-
as such because censors have reputa- ety from itself and to prevent moral
us for a long time.
tions for being illiberal, dogmatic, and decline.
In ancient Athens, the anti-intellectual.
philosopher Plato recom- Second, censors use certain methods
Fortunately, censors can be easily to deny public access to “dangerous”
mended that the guardians
identified because they tend to think or “objectionable” ideas and images.
of society censor literature, art, and
and act in predictable ways.
science to protect public morals and If the censors are in the government,
First, censors think of themselves as
piety. they will ban the production, distribu-
enlightened, moral, and public-spirited
In the Bible, the author of the Book tion, display, or sale of certain books
(like Plato and Theophilus). They want
of Acts described the Ephesians in or magazines.2 The censors will pass
a better society.
Greece destroying books of magic in restrictive laws and confiscate the
Censors also believe that other
a public bonfire.1 offending publications.
people are foolish, ignorant, or easily
And in Egypt, Archbishop Theophilus misled. These “other people” cannot In some cases, government censors
of Alexandria burned down the temple be trusted to behave responsibly or license publishers and printers who
of Serapis in 389 to destroy its library lawfully if they are exposed to “danger- must then seek the censors’ permis-
of pagan manuscripts. ous” ideas and images. CONTINUED ON PAGE 18



CONTINUED FROM PAGE 17 Serbs destroyed evidence of Bosnia of computers or networks from seeing
sion to publish. The censors deny per- and Herzegovina’s multicultural history. specific ideas and images.
mission to people who seek to publish
These instances of censorship are Governments around the world (e.g.,
“objectionable” books or magazines.
obvious and appalling. But in other in China and Iran) use Internet filtering
The English poet John Milton con- times and places, censors use subtler to prevent political activists from com-
demned the government licensing techniques. municating news and information to
of books in his essay Areopagitica other people.
One alternative to banning or
in 1644. The essay remains a classic
destroying a publication is expurga- Most people lack formal powers
defence of free expression.
tion. Censors delete the objectionable of censorship; nonetheless, some of
Some censors intimidate writers. passages from a book or magazine. these citizens also try to limit public
Intimidation includes threats of prose- Casual readers cannot tell if any text access to “objectionable” ideas and
cution in court, threats of job loss, and has been omitted. images. These people challenge books
even threats of physical injury or death. In England, the Rev. Thomas Bowdler and magazines in public schools and
The censors’ threats encourage writers (1754–1825) expurgated the Old libraries.
to censor themselves. Testament and the plays of William In a challenge, a citizen complains in
In 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran Shakespeare. He deleted and altered writing about a publication in a library
urged Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie, words that he considered “unfit to be or school. The citizen often requests
the author of The Satanic Verses, for read by a gentleman in the presence of that the item be removed too. The
publishing “blasphemy.” The threat ladies.” person may act alone or represent a
sent Rushdie into hiding for years and Today, people use the term bowdler- group.
discouraged other writers from fiction- ization as a synonym for expurgation. In North America, most challenges
alizing the Koran. probably go unrecorded; most chal-
Another subtle method of censor-
In extreme cases, government cen- ship is Internet filtering. Censors use lenges recorded by the American
sors authorize libricide: the systematic special software to prevent the users Library Association—the world’s larg-
state-sponsored destruction of est and oldest library associa-
books and libraries. tion—fail.

In 1933, the German All censors threaten

Nazis burned more the intellectual free-
than 20,000 books dom of readers and
in a bonfire in Berlin. writers. Intellectual
They destroyed lit- freedom includes free-
erature by Roman dom of inquiry, free-
Catholic, Jewish, dom of expression,
communist, and “un- freedom of the press,
German” authors. The and the freedom to
Nazis talked about read. These freedoms
purging society of are the foundation
degenerate ideas. of a civil, democratic
society. •
In 1992, during the 1 See Acts 19:19 in the New
siege of Sarajevo, Testament.
Serbian soldiers 2 In fact, censors ban more
than books and magazines.
shelled the National
They also ban newspapers,
Library of Bosnia Web sites, films, musical
and Herzegovina. recordings, plays, photo-
graphs, paintings, sketch-
In destroying es, sculptures, maps,
most of the cartoons, speeches,
statistics, official
library’s 2.5 mil- documents, and
lion books, the other items.

18 | F R E E D O M T O R E A D 2007
Book Excerpt


Travelling from ancient Rome to modern North
America, award-winning journalist Val Ross tells
the true stories of censors, forbidden books, and
writers on the run in her new book, YOU CAN’T
books are powerful, and reading
unlocks that power.

The Evil World of— either. Das Schwarze Korps,

the magazine of Hitler’s
Comic Books? ruthless Schutzstaffel
police, or SS, published

NLY A REMARKABLE an article describing
publication could be [Superman creator] Jerry
hated by two groups of Siegel as “intellectually
mortal enemies, the Nazis and physically circum-
and the anti-Nazis. Only cised,” and added that “American You Can’t Read This by Val Ross
(Tundra Books, 2006)
something outrageous could provoke youth ... don’t even notice the poi-
demands for censorship from Adolf son they swallow” when they read
Superman. ... afford, he began to write articles
Hitler, Benito Mussolini—and United
claiming that comic books were
States senators, and writers such The war ended in 1945. So did the
pushing modern American youth
as George Orwell (author of Animal golden age of superhero comics. ...
into juvenile delinquency.
Farm and Nineteen Eighty-four). Well, Instead of selling in the millions, an
the politics of censorship makes for issue of Superman would sell a mere In conferences and magazines,
strange banfellows; all these people 700,000 copies. ... Comic book pub- Wertham kept up his attack. In his
disliked comic books—and one in lishers scrambled frantically to figure eyes, even the Man of Steel was dis-
particular, Superman. ... For the Nazis, out what to try next. Some had already gusting—in fact, he was a closet Nazi.
what mattered was not what Superman shifted during the war to heavy crime “Superman (with the big S on his uni-
did, but what he was: a wise-crack- comics such as Crime Does Not Pay (a form—we should, I suppose, be thank-
ing hero dreamed up by two Jewish- particularly violent strip ...). By 1947, ful it is not an SS) needs an endless
American kids from Cleveland, Ohio. ... Crime Does Not Pay was outselling stream of ever new sub-men, criminals
Captain Marvel and Superman. ... and foreign-looking people,” he wrote.
By the end of 1941, with war raging,
“Superman has long been recognized
Superman was reaching about 35 mil- Not everyone was amused. Frederic
as a symbol of violent race superiority.
lion people, by either radio or print. ... Wertham had emigrated from Germany
... [He] explicitly belongs to a super
Over in England, the anti-Nazi writer in the 1920s to work in New York as a
George Orwell warned that Superman psychologist specializing in troubled
fans had much in common with the kids. ... When he noticed that many ... Wertham’s anti-comic campaigns
“bully-worship” that had brought Hitler juvenile delinquents read comic books, were having an effect. In 1948 the city
and Mussolini to power. Yet Hitler instead of concluding that maybe ten- of Los Angeles announced that there
and Mussolini weren’t Superman fans cent comics were all the kids could CONTINUED ON PAGE 20



CONTINUED FROM PAGE 19 that year. The U.S. Senate decided to after the industry agreed to police itself
would be a $500 fine or six months in hold a special session on links between by adopting a new Comics Code. ...
jail as penalty for selling crime comics mobsters and the comics industry. ... In his old age, Frederic Wertham had
to kids under eighteen. In 1951 Canada Wertham spoke to the Senate hearings a change of heart. In 1974, in his last
passed a law against importing U.S. first. He told chilling case histories of book, The World of Fanzines: A Special
crime comics. ... One early 1950s EC psychopaths who loved horror fantasy. Form of Communication, he explained
comic, Crime SuspenStories, featured ... When it came to teaching violence that comic book fans were very nice
a cover showing an axe murderer, and race hatred, he declared, “Hitler kids after all. The book didn’t sell
hatchet still dripping, standing over a was a beginner compared to the comic- nearly as well as his earlier hysterical,
headless woman’s body. ... This partic- book industry.” scare-mongering shockers. •
ular issue became one of [Wertham’s] ... In the end, the Senate decided This excerpt appears in You Can’t Read
major pieces of evidence in his crusade that it couldn’t do much about comics This: Forbidden Books, Lost Writing,
against comics. He used it in his book without infringing on constitutional Mistranslations & Codes by Val Ross
Seduction of the Innocent, published in principles of free speech. It agreed (Tundra Books, 2006) and is reprinted
1954. Things came to a head in May of to stop short of banning comic books with the publisher’s permission.

A Global Conflict Over Danish
Cartoons Echoes the Crisis Over


N SEPTEMBER 30, 2005, a Danish newspaper called

Jyllands-Posten published 12 cartoons that depicted
the Muslim prophet
MOHAMMED. THE CARTOONS 10 Muslim states urged Denmark’s
lampooned Mohammed, Muslim Prime Minister Rasmussen to “take
terrorism, and the newspaper’s all those responsible to task.” When
portrayal of Muslim immigrants. Rasmussen refused, saying that “free-
Flemming Rose, the newspaper’s dom of expression is the very founda-
editor, knew that many Muslims tion of the Danish democracy” and
regarded images of their prophet as that the “government has no means of
blasphemous, but he said that he influencing the press,” Danish Muslims
published the cartoons anyway filed a criminal complaint against
because he wanted to provoke a Jyllands-Posten. In 2006, a prosecutor
debate about the taboo on drawing declined to press charges.
Mohammed in Denmark. Stymied in Denmark, Danish Muslims
In the following weeks, insulted toured the Middle East with the 12
Muslims tried to punish Jyllands- cartoons and other offensive images
Posten. In October, ambassadors from to urge Muslim leaders to pressure

20 | F R E E D O M T O R E A D 2007
the Danes for redress.1 In December and Pakistan) banned the novel.
2005, the Organization of the Islamic Even Venezuela—a country with few
Conference and the Arab League Muslims—criminalized possession of
condemned the cartoons. In January the book.
2006, the European news media began
In Britain, the Union of Muslim
reprinting the Danish cartoons and
Organizations asked the govern-
defending their right to publish blas-
ment to prosecute Rushdie for blas-
phemy. On January 30, Jyllands-Posten
phemy. The U.K. Action Committee
apologized for offending Muslims but
on Islamic Affairs demanded
reaffirmed its decision to publish the
the destruction of The Satanic
Verses, an apology, and pay-
As the conflict worsened, Jyllands- ment of “damages” to a Muslim
Posten received bomb threats and the charity. When these attempts
cartoonists received death threats. were rebuffed, British Muslims
Throughout the world, Muslims burned copies of the book in
demanded the censorship of the car- Bolton (December 1, 1988) and
toons, boycotted Danish goods, and Bradford (January 14, 1989).
marched in demonstrations. Across On February 14, 1989, after
Asia, Muslim rioters burned Danish deadly anti-Rushdie riots in
flags, attacked Western embassies, and Pakistan and India, Ayatollah
clashed with police. Numerous arrests, Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa. The Rushdie File edited by
shootings, and deaths occurred before He ordered “all zealous Muslims” to Lisa Appignanesi and Sara Maitland
(Syracuse University Press, 1990)
the violence petered out in March kill Rushdie and his publishers for
2006. publishing The Satanic Verses. In
But no observer should have been Britain, Rushdie went into hiding. He include secular liberals and Muslims.
surprised by this outburst. A similar escaped death, but in the early 1990s The Rushdie File helps explain the
conflict between Muslims and lib- zealots bombed bookstores that sold conflict. The secular liberals argue that
eral advocates of free expression had the novel, injured the novel’s Italian free expression includes the right (but
occurred only a few years before. This translator and Norwegian publisher, not the obligation) to commit blas-
conflict was caused by the publication and murdered the novel’s Japanese phemy. The orthodox Muslims argue
of a novel. translator. that free expression excludes the right
In the conflicts over The Satanic to commit blasphemy. For them, blas-
On September 26, 1988, Salman
Verses and Jyllands-Posten’s cartoons, phemy—however defined—must be
Rushdie—an Indian author born to a
orthodox Muslims protested against censored and punished.
Muslim family—published The Satanic
Verses in Britain. The novel—a compli- the publication of “blasphemy.” Some Compromise between these two
cated fantasy set in London, Bombay, Muslims condemned—and even died viewpoints is difficult, if not impos-
an Indian village, and seventh-century in riots over—works that they had not sible.
Arabia—explores the consequences of seen.
Reading The Rushdie File today
emigrating from one culture to another. helps one understand the conflict
The novel also fictionalizes people, over Jyllands-Posten’s cartoons of
places, and events in the Koran. THE RUSHDIE FILE

Mohammed. Reading the book also
Muslim politicians in India immedi- N 1989, TWO AUTHORS IN helps one see why similar disputes will
ately condemned The Satanic Verses Britain—Lisa Appignanesi and probably occur again. •
as obscene and blasphemous, and Sara Maitland—published a
1 The Danish Muslims who toured the Middle East
the Indian government banned it book called The Rushdie File. compiled a 43-page booklet of Danish anti-Muslim
on October 5, 1988. In the ensuing It is a collection of documents images. The booklet contained cartoons that
Jyllands-Posten did not publish. See “Alienated
months, many countries with large about the conflict over The Satanic Danish Muslims Sought Help from Arabs,” Spiegel
Muslim populations (e.g., Egypt Verses. The documents’ authors Online English Site, February 1, 2006.




Booksellers and Freedom to Read

BY EMILY SINKINS Have you ever chosen not to stock a should be sandwiched in a bookshelf

particular book based solely on the and hidden from children’s eyes.”
fact that it offends you or might offend “I had one customer upset over Don
in the power of the writ-
some of your customers? Miguel Ruiz’s The Voice of Knowledge,
ten word—its ability to
educate, to inspire, to “The Anarchist Cookbook. We won’t but she wouldn’t explain what offend-
persuade, and to provoke. carry it or bring it in, but we will give ed her. She just bought out my entire
Often, it will also offend, enrage, and customers the publisher information so stock of it! I hope all my offended cus-
insult. Bookstores exist to offer access they can get it themselves.” tomers act this way!”
to reading material, but when it comes “There was a book about sex travel Have you ever received a customer
to potentially offensive titles, where do in Thailand that we all found quite complaint about your failure to stock
booksellers draw the line? offensive.” a particular title?
The Canadian Booksellers “I will not stock or special order any “We have had a couple of minor
Association (CBA), a national trade illegal hard-drug manufacturing titles, complaints that we didn’t carry any or
organization representing trade, cam- although I have special ordered several enough gay or feminist content books.
pus, chain, and specialty booksellers pot-growing books.” ... [T]here doesn’t seem to be a lot of
from coast to coast, recently distrib- demand for those books in this town,
“Books like David Hamilton’s attract
uted a survey to our members to find so we chose not to carry them for that
customers we do not want to encour-
out how they react when faced with reason, not for [reasons of ] censor-
age. We are concerned with the depic-
controversial works both at the order- ship.”
tion of children and draw our line
ing stage and when challenged by there.” “I was personally insulted and
customers. attacked, as was my then nine-year-old
“We carry or will order almost any-
Booksellers acknowledged that daughter, for not carrying Murder in
thing that our customers are interested
catering to the interests and desires Canada. This is an extreme anti-abor-
in. We may not promote these [books]
of their communities can sometimes tion book.”
(i.e., make them highly visible), but
mean electing not to stock titles that Have you had shipments delayed,
they can exist in our inventory.”
are likely to alienate them. In fact, 60 tampered with, or turned back at
Have you ever received customer com- the border because Canada Customs
per cent of booksellers admitted to
plaints about your decision to carry a deemed the material questionable?
not stocking a particular book solely
certain title?
because it might offend some of their “A company called Morning Glory
customers. (Of that 60 per cent, the “Madonna’s book Sex, any Paul Press was frequently targeted for open-
majority said they did so very rarely.) Bernardo books, the Koran, cookbooks ing. It sold books on teen pregnancy.”
with meat recipes, Lennart Nilsson’s
More than half of the booksellers “It was long ago ... for some Palladin
A Child Is Born (which presents both
that the CBA surveyed have received Press titles [about] anti-personnel
sides of the choice/right-to-life argu-
customer complaints about certain weapons and combat material.”
titles. A bookseller from Cranbrook, “During the 1980s, I began dealing
British Columbia, had this succinct “I was asked to remove a Karla with Naiad Press in the United States
response: “This is a community book- Homolka book out of the window.” ... and, [because it is] predominantly
store to serve the community as a “Most recently, a customer yelled a lesbian publishing house, I did
whole—diversity in interests is respect- at me for carrying Bitch in the House, have some shipments stopped and
ed here.” a book about the issues working searched.” •
Selected responses from the CBA’s women/mothers deal with. She said Emily Sinkins is the communications
Book Challenges Survey, which was her young child should not have to see manager of the Canadian Booksellers
distributed to 400 booksellers in such filth on our shelves.” Association and the editor of
August 2006, follow. “On Bullshit. [A] customer felt it ... Canadianbookseller.

22 | F R E E D O M T O R E A D 2007
2006 AWARDS for Freedom
of Expression/Freedom to Read

N OCTOBER 2006, PEN CANADA were assaulted while
awarded the PEN Canada/Paul covering demon-
Kidd Courage Prize to Kim strations against a
Bolan. She is a journalist for The referendum on consti-
Vancouver Sun and the author tutional amendments.
of Loss of Faith: How the Air India Female journalists
Bombers Got Away with Murder. were also sexually
The award recognizes writers harassed.
and journalists who have displayed CJFE also honoured
exceptional courage and integrity in Hollman Morris of
the interest of free expression. Bolan Colombia. He has
received the award for her investigation received numer-
of the Air India bombing of 1985. ous threats such as
funeral wreaths and
“Kim Bolan has devoted much of
letters of condolence
her career to the Air India affair, which
delivered to his home.
is probably the biggest criminal story
For uncovering atroci-
in Canada of the past 20 years,” the
ties committed by all
award jury said. “She had the courage
sides in Colombia’s

to continue to do important work under
armed conflict, Morris
dangerous conditions.”
was deliberately and
Bolan’s investigation led her into wrongfully accused of
British Columbia’s Sikh community, and Hollman Morris and Abeer Al-Askary
being a spokesman
her reporting prompted anonymous names two winning journalists per for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
threats against her life. year, named three in 2006. Colombia.
“She was on a death list and, after CJFE honoured Hayat Ullah Khan, “This year’s winners come from
the assassination of Tara Singh Hayer, a freelance journalist and photogra- some of the toughest regions in which
she had every reason to believe the pher who covered military conflicts in to practise journalism,” said Carol
Sikh militants would not hesitate to Pakistan’s tribal areas. He was abduct- Off, chair of CJFE’s awards committee.
kill her, too,” the award jury said.1 “We ed in December 2005; his dead body “They are truly remarkable people,
don’t know how many other journalists was found in North Waziristan in June committed to speaking out and telling
would have had the guts to persevere.” 2006. Khan’s family in Pakistan will the stories of the world’s most vulner-
The PEN Canada/Paul Kidd Courage receive $3,000 in award money; CJFE able citizens.”
Prize is named after Paul Kidd, a hopes the money will help them fight Each winner received a $3,000 cash
Canadian journalist who died in 2002. for justice in his case. prize.
He reported from more than 70 coun- CJFE also honoured Abeer Al-Askary In June 2006, the Canadian Library
tries, braving street violence, gun- of Egypt. She has published investiga- Association (CLA) bestowed its Award
fire, arrest, and threats from various tive reports on corruption, election for the Advancement of Intellectual
regimes. fraud, and the torture of prisoners. Freedom in Canada on June Callwood.
In August 2006, Canadian Journalists Because of her journalism, she has Callwood is one of Canada’s most dis-
for Free Expression (CJFE) announced been attacked by state security offi- tinguished journalists, social activists,
the winners of its International Press cers. On May 25, 2005, for example, and free-speech advocates.
Freedom Awards. CJFE, which usually Abeer Al-Askary and other journalists CONTINUED ON PAGE 24




Callwood helped found more than 50

organizations that play a vital role in
Canadian life, including the Canadian
Civil Liberties Association, PEN
Canada, Feminists Against Censorship,
The Writers’ Union of Canada, the
Periodical Writers Association of
Canada, and the Electronic Rights
Licensing Agency.2
“Long before they were safe or

fashionable, June Callwood was a
courageous and principled pioneer in

many social justice causes, especially
those involving children and women,”
said CLA President Barbara Clubb. June Callwood Charles Montpetit
“Her efforts have paved the way for conflict with the commercial goals of In February 2006, the Calgary
others to follow.” the publisher.” Freedom to Read Week Committee
Callwood was also an early chair- The award jury also noted another presented the Calgary Freedom of
woman of the Book and Periodical meritorious nomination. The Hamilton Expression Award to Catherine Ford.
Development Council’s Freedom of Spectator, which for the past year and The award was sponsored by Fast
Expression Committee. In 1995, she a half had been at the forefront of the Forward, a weekly entertainment
chaired the Book and Periodical battle to defend journalists’ right to journal.
Council. protect their sources of information, Ford’s career as a journalist began
was nominated by PEN Canada. when she joined the Calgary Herald in
In May 2006, the National Press Club
of Canada honoured Dr. John Hoey In February 2006, The Writers’ Union 1964. She has been a commentator on
and Anne Marie Todkill with the World of Canada (TWUC) announced that radio and television, and she has writ-
Press Freedom Award. Hoey and Todkill writer and publisher Charles Montpetit ten articles for other newspapers and
are, respectively, the former editor and of Montreal won the Freedom to Read magazines such as Chatelaine. She is
the former senior deputy editor of the Award. Montpetit is a member of the the author of Against the Grain, pub-
Canadian Medical Association Journal. Union des écrivaines et des écrivains lished by McClelland & Stewart in 2005.
québécois and a past winner of the
Hoey and Todkill were dismissed Ford was a national columnist for
Governor General’s Literary Award for
from their jobs in February 2006, six CanWest News Service and throughout
children’s literature.
weeks after they revealed in an editori- her career she made a commitment to
“Charles has worked tirelessly to
al that the publisher and the Canadian her readers: to speak honestly. In a col-
help preserve the freedom to read and
Medical Association had suppressed umn on censorship, she said: “All I’ve
write in this country, most recently to
part of an investigative report on how got worth fighting for is the promise
ensure that the controversial child-
pharmacists across Canada were dis- that what you read is what I honestly
porn bill passed by the last govern-
pensing emergency contraceptive pills. believe.” •
ment contained adequate defences for
The award jury noted one of the legitimate writers,” said Brian Brett, Anne Jayne, Julie Payne, Spencer
principles espoused by the World chair of the Writers’ Union. Moore, PEN Canada, The Writers’
Association of Medical Editors, TWUC bestows its Freedom to Union of Canada, and the Canadian
of which the Canadian Medical Read Award each year as part of Library Association supplied informa-
Association Journal is a member: Freedom to Read Week in Canada. tion for this article.
“Editors should be free to express Previous winners have included anti- 1 Tara Singh Hayer, the publisher of the Indo-
critical but responsible views about censorship activists Janine Fuller of Canadian Times, was shot to death in Surrey, British
Columbia, in 1998.
all aspects of medicine without fear of Little Sister’s bookstore in Vancouver 2 The Periodical Writers Association of Canada is
retribution, even if these views might and Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby. now the Professional Writers Association of Canada.

24 | F R E E D O M T O R E A D 2007
Seventy Years in the
BY AIDAN JOHNSON countries find refuge as writers-in-resi- Vancouver that caters to lesbians and

dence at Canadian universities, librar- gays—clashed in court over the gov-
ies, and other community organizations ernment’s seizure at the border of pur-
organization of Canadian
with an interest in literature and read- portedly obscene publications import-
writers and readers for
ing.1 The network links writers to read- ed by the bookstore. PEN Canada took
free expression, marked its
ers and Canada to the world. an interest in the dispute: in 1994, Nino
seventieth anniversary in
Ricci, PEN Canada’s president, testified
2006. Since its inception, PEN Canada
on behalf of Little Sister’s at the trial in
has encouraged freedom of literacy, The National Archive Vancouver.
education, and thought by supporting
PEN Canada also continues its work on In 1996, the Supreme Court of British
writers facing oppression—be it tor-
behalf of censored writers in Canada. In Columbia ruled that Canada Customs’
ture, imprisonment, exile in a foreign
fact, PEN Canada has set out to docu- actions had violated both the equality
country, or censorship—from hostile
ment this specifically Canadian work in and free-speech rights of gays and les-
its new National Archive. bians, although the court also upheld
International PEN was founded in
As PEN and other defenders of free Canada Customs’ legal power to censor.
England in 1921 to foster literary com-
expression in Canada plan strategy Ricci said: “Canada is perhaps the only
munity and freedom of expression.
for the future, they must know PEN’s democratic country in the world that
Joseph Conrad and George Bernard
history. They must be aware of PEN’s lets its Customs officers choose what
Shaw numbered among PEN’s early
past campaigns and public arguments people will be allowed to read. Now
members. In 1947, the United Nations
about some of the most controversial that a court has ruled that, that has led
reviewed PEN Charter’s declaration of
issues in Canadian politics. The new to some pretty arbitrary and nonsensi-
free-speech and thought rights during
archive will be valuable not only to cal decisions. The next logical step is to
the drafting of the Universal Declaration
PEN’s board, membership, and staff, put the choice back where it belongs, in
of Human Rights. Today, there are 144
but also to other Canadian civil-liber- the hands of Canadian citizens.”
PEN Centres in 101 countries.
ties activists and students interested Ricci’s words echo Article 19 of the
in Canada’s history of free speech and Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
News The archive will consist of PEN
“Everyone has the right to freedom
of opinion and expression; this right
In 2006, after a vigorous PEN Canada’s legal briefings, policy docu- includes freedom to hold opinions
campaign, the government of the ments, and government communica- without interference and to seek,
Islamic Republic of Iran released tions. Case summaries will include receive and impart information and
Ramin Jahanbegloo from prison. detailed chronologies of events and ideas through any media and regard-
Jahanbegloo—an Iranian-born philoso- descriptions of PEN Canada’s respons- less of frontiers.”2 Because of PEN, free
pher with Canadian citizenship—had es. Paper documents will be converted expression is defended and flourishes
been imprisoned for four months into easy-to-access electronic files here in Canada. •
in Tehran for, among other thought and, in time, they will appear on PEN Aidan Johnson is a PhD student in the
crimes, contradicting the Iranian presi- Canada’s Web site. University of Chicago’s Human Rights
dent’s denial of the Holocaust in World
Program and a former Fulbright schol-
War II.
In 2006, the Congress of
A Highlight from the ar. He is completing a Human Rights
Program work period at PEN Canada.
International PEN also re-elected PEN National Archive 1 For more information on the Writers in Exile
Canada to the chair of the Writers in Throughout the 1990s, Canada Network, visit
2 The General Assembly of the United Nations
Exile Network. This network helps writ- Customs and Little Sister’s Book adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration
ers who are censored in their home and Art Emporium—a bookstore in of Human Rights on December 10, 1948.




on November 1, 2006—a day
when Canadian Journalists for
Free Expression (CJFE) holds
its International Press Freedom
Awards. It’s a day when we celebrate
and, in some cases, mourn journal-
ists from all over the world who have
shown great courage in doing their
This year, our three award winners
were Abeer Al-Askary, a determined
young woman from Egypt who has
been assaulted by the police for
covering protests; Hollman Morris,
who hosts the TV show Contravia in
Colombia and who has received more
death threats than he can count for
telling the stories of marginalized Hayat Ullah Khan (right) working on the construction of the school with a friend

Colombians; and Hayat Ullah Khan, a crime in Quebec), Guy-André Kieffer Canada in 16th place this year. This
Pakistani journalist whose integrity and (who disappeared while investigating rank isn’t terrible, but Bolivia—where
uncompromising commitment to telling corruption in Ivory Coast), and Zahra press freedom is increasing from
the truth led to his death in June 2006. Kazemi (who was tortured and killed in year to year—tied for 16th place with
a prison in Iran). Canada. For Canadians, this rank
should be a stark reminder of how eas-
Now you have some idea of why we
ily these rights can be taken away.
are happy not to present the award!
We must pay attention. Every time a
This year, however, we did present judge demands that a journalist reveal
the Vox Libera Award which recognizes his or her sources, every time the gov-
a person’s sustained defence of free ernment withdraws a little further from

expression. Alan Borovoy, a Toronto media (and therefore from public) scru-
lawyer who has worked tirelessly at the tiny, every time university students are
Canadian Civil Liberties Association to refused the right to assemble, every
Alan Borovoy
defend all of our civil rights, including time books and magazines are seized
freedom of expression, received the at our borders, we must pay attention
CJFE didn’t give a Tara Singh Hayer
award. and speak out. Freedom of expression
Award this year. This award, named
after the murdered editor of the Indo- After reading this far, you might have is far too precious—far too fundamen-
Canadian Times, honours Canadian the idea that although press freedom tal—to all our other rights. We must
journalists who have been physically is embattled in other countries, press remain vigilant. •
attacked or murdered on the job. Past freedom in Canada is doing fine. But Julie Payne is the manager of Canadian
winners include Michel Auger (who it’s not true. In its press freedom index, Journalists for Free Expression in
was shot for investigating organized Reporters Without Borders ranked Toronto.

26 | F R E E D O M T O R E A D 2007
There’s a CHILL in the AIR BY RON BROWN

OUT-AND-OUT CENSORSHIP is not the only issue to pose a problem for Canada’s
writers. Indeed, there are many issues that can have a “chilling” effect on
writing. Chill simply means there is a law or an implied threat that holds
the writers back from exercising their full freedom of expression.
The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) has become concerned with three.
“Son of Sam” Laws Anti-SLAPP possessing secretly obtained govern-
ment information about Maher Arar.3
In 1997, the federal government con- Legislation Many have argued that the wording of
sidered legislation that would have
SLAPP is the acronym for the law is too broad and has a chilling
prevented convicted criminals from
“Strategic Lawsuit Against Public effect on the ability of a writer or jour-
earning royalty income by writing
Participation.” It occurs when a govern- nalist to obtain pertinent information
about their crimes. Royalties would
ment, or a quasi-governmental body, from confidential informants.4
have gone into a victims’ fund.1 That
bill died, but various provincial gov- brings a libel action against the govern- The Writers’ Union of Canada will
ernments have passed similar laws. ment’s critics. California and other U.S. continue to monitor these and other
Such laws exist in Ontario, Quebec, states have enacted legislation to pro- issues as they arise and to guarantee
and Manitoba. One such measure was tect writers and other groups against our writers’ freedom to write and criti-
recently passed in Alberta; another bill such legal action, but this is not the cize. Canada is cold enough as it is. We
in Nova Scotia died on the order paper. case in Canada: a SLAPP lawsuit was don’t need another “chill” in the air. •
While many Canadians justifiably feel brought by the Toronto Port Authority
that criminals such as Clifford Olson against Community Air for comments Ron Brown is the chair of the Rights
should never be allowed to profit from that the group had made. and Freedoms Committee for The
their crimes, very few authors would While some might feel that this issue Writers’ Union of Canada.
likely come from the ranks of such does not directly affect writers, TWUC
criminals.2 Indeed, many people in has long been concerned about the 1 The bill, dubbed “Son of Sam legislation,” referred
the justice system recommend writing effects of libel chill and has lobbied to serial killer David Berkowitz. In 1977, Berkowitz
was convicted in New York for murdering six people.
as part of the rehabilitation process. to have Ontario’s libel laws changed. He called himself “Son of Sam.”—FC
First-person accounts of a crime or of a While anti-SLAPP legislation would
2 In 1982, Clifford Olson pleaded guilty to the mur-
criminal’s life story can be beneficial to not apply to individual litigants, it der of eight girls and three boys in British Columbia.
understanding the evolution of a crimi- would help to protect writers who wish He was sentenced to life in prison.—FC

nal mind or action. to publish critical reviews of quasi- 3 In 2002, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
“Son of Sam” laws have the effect governmental groups. (A book on the (RCMP) suspected Maher Arar—a Syrian-born
Canadian citizen—of having ties to al-Qaeda. On
of punishing a person twice for the Toronto Port Authority, for example, is September 26, 2002, while in an airport in New
same crime. Indeed, since the writing not an unlikely prospect.) York, Arar was detained by U.S. authorities and
deported to Syria. In Syria, Arar was imprisoned for
of a book is not a crime, how could the more than a year and tortured.
royalty be a “proceed” from a crime? In
Alberta and Manitoba, even agents or
The Terrorism Bill On November 8, 2003, O’Neill wrote a news story
in the Ottawa Citizen about the RCMP, Arar, and
the Syrians. On January 21, 2004, the RCMP raided
co-authors are required to turn royalty Canada’s Security of Information Act O’Neill’s home and office to discover the name of
income over to a “victims’” fund or face makes the possession of information the government employee who had supplied O’Neill
with information for her story.—FC
being charged with an offence. related to terrorism, which the govern-
The difficulty is that many of these ment feels should be “secret,” a crimi- 4 On October 19, 2006, a court in Ontario struck
down three sections of the Security of Information
laws are introduced with little fanfare. nal offence. No effort has been made to Act as unconstitutional. The court also quashed the
The Alberta law went through three define “secret,” and a proceeding has warrants used by the RCMP to search O’Neill’s home
and office in 2004. On November 3, 2006, Minister
readings in the legislature before most been launched against Ottawa Citizen of Justice Vic Toews declared that he would not
writers became aware of the measure. journalist Juliet O’Neill for allegedly appeal the court’s ruling.—FC



The Human Rights Police

BY FRANKLIN CARTER Both publishers knew that Muslims Three men complained to the

regarded the cartoons as blasphe- Saskatchewan Human Rights
mous. But the publishers reprinted the Commission. In 2001, a tribunal ruled
provincial govern-
cartoons anyway because they helped that the ad exposed gay people to
ments passed human
illustrate an important news story: the hatred. The tribunal forbade Owens
rights codes to protect
violent Muslim protests taking place and the newspaper from publishing
Canadians from discrimi-
around the world. the ad again, and ordered them to pay
nation in jobs and housing. Provincial
Syed Soharwardy, an outraged damages.
governments also created human rights
commissions to enforce the codes. Muslim, complained to the Alberta Claiming that his right to religious
Human Rights and Citizenship expression had been infringed, Owens
In recent years, however, the com-
Commission. He demanded an apol- appealed. In 2002, a provincial court
missions have broadened human rights
ogy from the publishers and a pledge upheld the tribunal’s decision. But
offences to include “discriminatory
that they won’t blaspheme again. The Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal over-
speech.” The commissions have arro-
publishers are fighting to retain their turned the ruling in 2006—nine years
gated the right to judge Canadians for
editorial independence. after the ad ran.
the expression of unpopular opinions
and images.
The commissions now pose a threat 2. A Public Letter 4. Contrarian Columns
to freedom of the press in Canada.
In 2002, Rev. Stephen Boissoin In 1994, Doug Collins, a writer for
To launch an inquiry, some commis- published a letter in the Red Deer Vancouver’s North Shore News, penned
sions need only to receive a complaint Advocate. The letter, entitled several opinion columns that offended
from a person who has been offended “Homosexual Agenda Wicked,” readers. Four articles offended Jews by
by something in print. If the commis- accused gay activists of promoting questioning the number of dead in the
sion decides that the complainant has pedophilia in schools. Boissoin urged Holocaust and by criticizing the pros-
been “exposed to hatred or contempt,” heterosexuals to resist the gay “victim- ecution of anti-Semites such as Ernst
the writer or publisher may be fined ization” and “recruitment” of children. Zundel.
and forced to apologize.
Darren Lund, a gay teacher, filed a In 1999, the B.C. Human Rights
In Alberta, the complainant does not complaint with Alberta’s human rights Tribunal censured Collins and the
need to prove that the offending article commission. Lund claimed that the let- newspaper for perpetuating damaging
or image caused harm. The complain- ter fostered anti-gay stereotypes and stereotypes of Jews. The tribunal fined
ant does not even need to show that encouraged an assault on a gay teen- Collins and the newspaper $2,000, and
the publisher or writer intended to ager in Red Deer. forbade them from publishing similar
incite hatred or contempt. In 2005, the commission decided to opinions again.
The following cases illustrate hear the dispute. Boissoin could be Collins said the ruling was “the big-
attempts by the commissions to police punished for expressing an opinion gest threat to press freedom to arise in
controversial expression in Canadian rooted in his Christian faith. many years.” He appealed, but he died
publications. in 2001 before any court could hear
3. A Newspaper Ad In free societies, people distinguish
1. Danish Cartoons In 1997, Hugh Owens placed an ad between the right to express an opin-
In February 2006, two publications for car bumper stickers in Saskatoon’s ion and the opinion itself. The former
in Alberta reprinted several of the 12 StarPhoenix. The ad depicted two should be inviolate; the latter may be
Danish cartoons about the Muslim stick-men holding hands in a circle criticized. The best response to offen-
prophet Mohammed. The Western with a slash through it. The ad cited sive expression is more and better
Standard reprinted eight; the Jewish four Biblical passages that condemn public criticism—not censure imposed
Free Press reprinted four. homosexuality. through human rights commissions. •

28 | F R E E D O M T O R E A D 2007

Ideas for Educators

THE GET INVOLVED SECTION IS DESIGNED TO guide to generating publicity for your Freedom
give teachers, librarians, retailers, and mem- to Read Week event, from writing a noteworthy
bers of the public ideas to help raise awareness press release to accommodating a camera crew.
of freedom of expression in Canada through As always, the objectives of this section are to
in-class debates, special displays, and public • highlight freedom of thought and freedom
events. of expression as universal human rights;
The ideas and activities are aimed at high • examine the educational value of
school, college, and university students and controversial texts; and
would suit studies in politics, history, law, and • emphasize tolerance of other people’s
languages and literature. Media and dramatic viewpoints as a vital principle of democratic
arts courses will also find dynamic areas of dis- education.
cussion and study in this section. We encourage you to use these tools and
This year, the Get Involved section includes a resources to Get Involved in your community.


30 | F R E E D O M T O R E A D 2007
Challenged Books and Magazines
The list below features titles that have been banned or challenged in Canada. For more information
on these titles and our complete challenged publications list, please visit

Marie Tempête: Le secret d’Emilie by
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz P. Cothias and P. Wachs (Editions Glénat)
by Mordecai Richler In 2001, the city council of Hull,
Quebec, resolved to “exclude all visual
Clins d’œil à Romain Gary by documents (movies, films, comic books,
Gabrielle Gourdeau magazines) that trivialize and/or con-
A Clockwork Orange by done acts of sexual aggression or sexual
Anthony Burgess violence” from public libraries. The city
council—which had been lobbied for
Dance Me Outside by W.P. Kinsella months by a woman who opposed
Deliverance by James Dickey depictions of sexual violence—also
ordered its libraries to restrict access
Different Seasons by Stephen King to 180 graphic novels. But Quebec’s
The Diviners by Margaret Laurence writers and others campaigned for
people’s freedom to read. The graphic
Le grand cahier by Agota Kristof novels were returned to the open
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret library shelves and, in 2002,
Atwood Hull’s city council repealed
the policy.
Lives of Girls and Women by Alice
Man Sitting in a Corridor by Marguerite
Duras Greasy, Grimy, Gopher Guts: The CHALLENGED YOUNG
Subversive Folklore of Children by
Metallic Memories by Moebius (Jean
Josepha Sherman and T.K.F. Weisskopf
Giraud) BOOKS
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck Lethal Marriage by Nick Pron

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie On Chapters From My Diary by Leon The Adventures of Tintin: The Blue
Trotsky Lotus by Hergé
Tout Deschamps by Yvon Deschamps
Outlaw Representation: Censorship L’affaire du cachalot noir by Gervais
The Turner Diaries by William Pierce
and Homosexuality in Twentieth Pomerleau
The Wars by Timothy Findley
Century Art by Richard Meyer Ani Croche by Bertrand Gauthier
The Young in One Another’s Arms by
Pornography: Men Possessing Women Asha’s Mums by Rosamund Elwin and
Jane Rule
and Woman Hating by Andrea Dworkin Michele Paulse
Scrambled Brains: A Cooking Guide Baby Be-Bop by Francesca Lia Block
for the Reality Impaired by Pierre Black Like Kyra, White Like Me by
NON-FICTION LeBlanc and Robin Konstabaris Judith Vigna
Banksters and Prairie Boys by Monier Sex by Madonna Bumface by Morris Gleitzman
M. Rahall
Suffer Little Children by Dereck O’Brien Carcajou le glouton fripon by Basile
Black Looks: Race and Representation Awashish et al.
by bell hooks Under the Gun: Inside the Mohawk
Civil War by Rick Hornung The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
By Way of Deception: A Devastating
The Valour and the Horror by Merily Le choix d’Ève by Reynald Cantin
Insider’s Portrait of the Mossad by
Claire Hoy and Victor Ostrovsky Weisbord and Merilyn Simonds Mohr Les colères de l’océan by Gervais
Courting Disaster by Malcolm J. Barker Waging War From Canada by Mike
and T.C. Sobey Pearson CONTINUED ON PAGE 32



Maxine’s Tree by Diane Carmel Leger Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance
(Orca Book Publishers, 1990) and Assisted Suicide for the Dying by Derek Humphry
This children’s picture book features a five-year-old girl (Hemlock Society, 1991)
who tries to protect an old-growth rainforest on Vancouver In 2005 during Freedom to Read Week, the Lethbridge
Island from loggers. In 1992, an official of the International Public Library in Alberta created a display of books that
Woodworkers of America in Sechelt, British Columbia, had been challenged in North America. The inclusion
asked the local school board to remove the book from of Final Exit in the display prompted a library patron
elementary school libraries. He claimed that the book to formally request the removal of the book from the
indoctrinated children into accepting an extremist, anti- library’s collection. The library’s board considered the
logging viewpoint. The school board rejected his request. request but decided to keep Final Exit.

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 31 Hey, Dad! by Brian Doyle Outrageously Alice by Phyllis Reynolds
La complainte des huarts by Gervais Hold Fast by Kevin Major Naylor
Pomerleau La première fois by Charles Montpetit
How Did I Begin? by Mick Manning and
La course à l’amour by Bertrand Brita Granstrom (ed.)
Gauthier Qu’est-ce que vous faites là? by
I Saw Esau by Iona and Peter Opie
Les envoûtements by Daniel Sernine Dominique Jolin
I’ll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelm
L’été des baleines by Michèle Le secret d’Ève by Reynald Cantin
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne
Marineau Reid Banks Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli
The First Time by Charles Montpetit Children Speak
J’ai besoin de personne by Reynald
(ed.) by Deborah Ellis
Foxfire by Joyce Carol Oates Tison-Ardent by Gervais Pomerleau
Moonkid and Liberty by Paul Kropp
Goosebumps and Fear Street series by To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Noah’s Cats and the Devil’s Fire by
R.L. Stine Arielle North Olson Underground to Canada by Barbara
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Smucker
Not the Only One: Gay and Lesbian
Secrets by J.K. Rowling Fiction for Teens The Waiting Dog by Carolyn and
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s by Tony Grime Andrea Beck
Stone by J.K. Rowling On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Ingalls Wilder Who is Frances Rain? by Margaret
Azkaban by J.K. Rowling Ouch by Natalie Babbitt Buffie

32 | F R E E D O M T O R E A D 2007

Organize an Essay Contest remove the Harry Potter books from

bookshelves in 16 states. Before that

During Freedom to Read Week book I never knew that reading was so
entertaining, and that was when I got
into books. If the Harry Potter series
Winning student essays from the Calgary Public Library had been removed, I would never have
discovered the enjoyment of reading,
and that is why the freedom to read is
so important to me.


“The Magic of Books”
By Sara (Grade 9)
the world are discovering a timeless
magic. This magic is not something
that can be found in any ordinary item
but in the wonderful literature that is
supplied. No matter what language
these ink words are formed in, they all
contain the same spellbinding experi-
ence that can only be discovered in
the heart of words. If even a little bit
of these miracles is taken away, then
FIRST PRIZE ESSAY motivation partly because people
we cannot fully experience the won-
always have choices about the books
“Freedom to Read” ders that each page holds because,
they read. So if someone finds a book
By Evan (Grade 9) “Reading is a basic tool in the living of
offensive in any way they could simply
a good life.”1
I FIND THE LIBERTY OF READING ignore it; I don’t see why it’s so impor-
extremely important to just about every tant to confiscate the freedom to read. With every word we read, we gain
book lover—in particular, people like knowledge and imagination that pre-
me. I consider reading as an essential Freedom to read is not just impor- pares us for a land of untold tales.
of my way of life, but there is always tant to the readers; it is also vital to There is no purpose to destroying
the issue of gaining the freedom to the writers. When someone writes books when they were written by
read. Yet I am one of the few that is something they hope to bring someone authors who wished to share a little
extremely fortunate considering the else’s enjoyment, and by removing piece of their mind and those “...
fact that Canada is indeed a free coun- books they’re also putting the writers who destroy a good book kills reason
try by world standards. Nevertheless, in despair knowing their hard work itself.”2 Agreed, some depictions may
the freedom to read is still constantly has just been a waste of time. That is be vulgar, inappropriate, and contain
under attack by individuals who wish another reason why the freedom to language that does not appeal to
to remove practical information from read is important. other individuals; but was there not a
our shelves of knowledge. I think that For some people, a book can time when they also had their choice
we should make sure those individu- change their life. For example, at first I of books? If not, then they should not
als don’t get their satisfaction from the despised reading, but that was before limit the freedom of choice for other
despair of others by taking away our I read Harry Potter. The book’s inter- readers.
freedom to read. esting plot along with its fascinating Everyone should have the decision to
I think the individual who wants to theme held my attention like a magnet, read or not to read, and just because
take the freedom away has a lousy yet there were still 26 challenges to CONTINUED ON PAGE 34



some individuals cannot accept these sibly hope to learn what
“Freedom to Read”
certain books, it doesn’t mean that this world has to offer all
others shouldn’t explore these epics.
By Jake (Grade 9) by oneself. But we have
Stories expand the human mind more THE WRITTEN WORD IS ONE books to share knowledge
than anything learnt in a classroom— of man’s greatest achieve- with us, so we do not have to
excluding reading itself—and they are ments. It is how we record figure life out for ourselves, which
the life that brings out the world that and communicate our would be impossible in our short
you never knew existed. Without them, thoughts, ideas, and his- life spans. For instance, a scientist
not only I, but many of us would be tory. Contained in a book in Japan may be researching how
left unsheltered with an uneasy feeling can be the thoughts of a to fight a disease, and then publish
that such magic is wasted. For, “Books great thinker or the acts of a his/her findings in a medical journal.
are the quietest and most constant of civilization that no longer exists. From A doctor in Canada could read this
friends: they are the most accessible a book we can gain a new perspective research and use it to cure one of his/
and wisest of counsellors, and the or escape to a place far away. her patients.
most patient of teachers.”3 Those who want to restrict what can In a library you can see the freez-
Quotations be put in public libraries are most likely ing heights of the Himalayas and the
trying to save young children’s minds scorched sands of the Sahara, and
1 Mortimer J. Adler
from some “evil” they should not be listen to the thoughts of people from
2 John Milton
seeing or thinking. The fact is that you both lands, without leaving the room.
3 Charles W. Eliot
can’t shelter people from the world and Would it be fair to take out the book
Reference what’s in it. No one should be allowed on the people of the Sahara because
Logan, Deb. Quotations about to decide what we can learn. Ignorance someone deems their history too vio-
Libraries, Books, and Reading! won’t save anyone from making the lent? The world is round as we now wrong choices; only by educating your- know. A sphere is impossible to see
(accessed January 29, 2006). self can you know what is right. from one side.

BOOKCROSSING and print one from our Web site at
challenged and banned 3. Go to
and follow the directions to register
books in Canada! The the book.
Freedom of Expression
4. After you’ve tagged and regis-
Committee invites you to tered the book, release it into your
find a title you care about community for someone else to
from our list of challenged read. You can leave it on a bench, in
literature and release the a café, on public transit, or even in
a bathroom stall.
book into your community
5. Log on to BookCrossing’s Web
through BookCrossing’s Web
site often to see who finds your
site at www.BookCrossing. book, what they think, and where
com. Magazines.” (See page 31.) You they release it next.
Here’s how it works: may also purchase a book for this BookCrossing’s goal is “to turn the
1. Find a title from your book- project. whole world into a library.” During
shelf that appears on our list 2. Tag the book with a special Book- this year’s Freedom to Read Week,
of “Challenged Books and Crossing label. You can download make it your goal, too!

34 | F R E E D O M T O R E A D 2007
Freedom to Read Week Photo Competition:
Your Chance to Be a Shutterbug!
Freedom to Read Week (FTRW) is about choice.
It’s about choosing to be intellectually free and
never forgetting how important your freedom to
read is. It’s about celebrating that freedom.
This contest provides you with an opportunity to visually
capture our freedom to read. Photograph challenged books,
FTRW events, the FTRW poster, or anything that promotes the
written word. You can download the challenged books list or
a list of events in your community at
Show us how your community celebrates its freedom to read!
Eligibility: The FTRW photo competition is open to all ama-
teur and professional photographers.
Entry Details: A maximum of five entries will be accepted per
Digital Images: Images must be 800 by 600 pixels at 72 dpi.
Please keep your file sizes down to no more than 800–900
kilobytes per image. Competition winners will be contacted if
higher resolution images are required for publication.
Prizes: Enter to win one of our great prizes!
1st Place: $100!
2nd Place: Three challenged books!

3rd Place: A Freedom to Read survival pack with poster and
annual review!

The Giver Is Taken (1st Prize, 2006)

any breach of copyright. The photographer retains ownership

of all submitted images. Images entered must not have been
digitally altered in any way other than necessary burning,
dodging, and cropping.
Return of Images: Images will be returned only if entered

with a self-addressed envelope with sufficient postage.

Publication: Submission of an entry constitutes agreement
to allow photographs to be reproduced, published, and/or
exhibited only for promotional purposes of the Freedom of
Pet Habit (2nd Prize, 2006)
Expression Committee’s Freedom to Read Week.
Identification: Each image must be labelled with the photog- Judges: The winning entries will be selected by a panel of
rapher’s name, address, and telephone number. Each image judges. The photos will be judged according to their originali-
must include its title and location. ty and their pertinence to the spirit of Freedom to Read Week.
Ownership: Entrants must own all rights to the works sub- All decisions by the judges are final.
mitted. Model releases are the entrant’s responsibility and Deadline: March 31, 2007
must be provided to the Freedom of Expression Committee Entry Fee: Free!
if requested. Entrants shall indemnify the Freedom of Contact: Adrian Galwin at (416) 975-9366 or
Expression Committee for any loss or damage arising from




Write a Killer Press Release and Get Publicity!

So, you’ve organized a fan- ties, etc. If celebrities or politicians are etc. Have these materials well-mounted
going to be present, mention them here. and displayed. If you’ll have celebrity
tastic Freedom to Read Week
guests, have them available for on-
activity. But how can you make THE THIRD PARAGRAPH might elabo-
camera interviews.
sure it gets media attention? rate on the importance of freedom of
Preparing for radio and print coverage
expression and how your event sup-
Writing a press release is the ports it. If there have been recent book
of your event will be less complicated
logical place to start, but you or magazine challenges in your com-
than preparing for television shows,
need to target your message but make sure to have potential
munity, refer to them here.
interview subjects available when the
and your audience carefully to THE FINAL PARAGRAPH lists the reporters will be around. If you know
have a chance at generating contact information with your group’s in advance when a newsworthy guest
press interest and coverage. name, phone number, and e-mail will arrive, tell the reporter or producer
address set in boldface type. when you make your follow-up phone
Follow these basic rules:
Your press release is ready. Now what? call.
PAGE. In the top left corner, type “FOR FIND YOUR AUDIENCE. Don’t send
from television or radio programs might
IMMEDIATE RELEASE.” On the next press releases “to whom it may con-
not be able to come to your event, but
line, centre the headline in 14-point cern.” Get the name of the relevant
they might still promote your event
type. Centre the sub-headline on the writer, producer, news director, or
beforehand in a studio interview. To
line below. Use boldface type on both editor, and send your press release
generate public awareness, suggest a
headlines. directly to his or her attention. Follow
panel discussion on freedom of expres-
THE FIRST PARAGRAPH opens with the up with the person a day or two before
sion. Suggest guests and discussion
release date in brackets. The rest of the the event by making a telephone call
points to the producer, emphasizing
paragraph declares when Freedom to and by re-sending the release.
the potentially wide-ranging nature of
Read Week will happen, who sponsors THINK IN THE MEDIUM. If you’re ask- the topic—from the arts to technology
the Week and why, and that the Week ing for television coverage of your to politics to parenting.
is nationwide. This paragraph mentions event, think about what a camera crew ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT, set your
your event, date, and location. will shoot. Television needs pictures, VCR to tape the television segment.
THE SECOND PARAGRAPH provides not just interviews. Potential shots Save your press clippings too. You’ll
more information about your event, its could include book jackets, event post- want to review the coverage before
participants, special or unusual activi- ers, Freedom to Read Week posters, next year’s event!

WEEK 2007

36 | F R E E D O M T O R E A D 2007

Organize In-Class Debates!

Make a controversy come keep To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper ask a basic question: will reading a
Lee out of classrooms because, they book with profanity encourage kids to
alive for your students and
claimed, the book’s use of the word swear?
help them expand their under- “nigger” promoted racism and endan- • If people want to remove an “objec-
standing of freedom of expres- gered black students’ self-esteem. tionable” or “offensive” book in the
sion by organizing an in-class Create two teams to debate the motion. school library (e.g., R.L. Stine’s horror
debate. Go to page 31 for a list One team should support it, and the novels, Deborah Ellis’s Three Wishes
other team should challenge it. Make or Joyce Carol Oates’s Foxfire) in the
of challenged books and to
sure that both sides back up their argu- name of protecting children, should
the resources section at www. ments with quotations from the text. the challengers’ views be supported? to aid your • Many objections to books are based And here’s a question for students to
research and book selection. on the author’s use of profanity in the ponder: what’s wrong with wanting to
text. For your next in-class debate, protect children?
While the sample topics listed
below are aimed at an older audience,
younger kids can enter the fray too! ACTIVITY
Many kids already have a basic under-
standing of censorship—even Arthur,
Display Challenged Books!
• Put copies of banned and challenged
books on a shelf, and seal off the shelf
with yellow “Caution” tape.

• Create a display within the stacks

of your library or bookstore by mak-
ing shelf-talkers or visible bookmarks
for banned or challenged books in
your collection. Use a stop-sign tem-
plate with “STOP! This book has been
banned or challenged” printed on it.

the popular children’s animated series, • Cover a section of wall with wallpaper
addressed book-banning in the epi- made from enlarged photocopies of
sode “Arthur and the Scare-Your-Pants- pages from challenged books. Make
Off Club.” The challenged books list in the copies legal or poster size, and
this guide and on the Freedom to Read black out words and phrases.
Somebody Else’s World (3rd prize, 2006)
Web site have lists of children’s books,
• Put coloured pushpins into a map of jar, and seal the lid. Put a poison label
including picture books, that have
the world, showing countries where on the front of the jar, and place it near
faced censorship.
authors have been jailed for their the check-out desk or cash register.
Here are some ideas to get you books. Arrange photographs and biog-
raphies of the authors around the map, • Beside any display, leave a stack of
and connect each photo to its appropri- pre-addressed postcards and contact
• Research book challenge cases and information for appropriate govern-
ate pin with coloured string.
recreate them in the classroom. For ment ministers (education, foreign
example, in 2002 parents and teachers • Put challenged books (paperbacks affairs, etc.) to draw attention to the
in Nova Scotia instigated a motion to would work best) into a large-mouthed importance of freedom of expression.




Host a Reading Marathon!

A reading marathon draws ning or several books over a 24-hour
attention to the issue of liter-
ary freedom and energizes Send out a press release a week
before the marathon, as well as a
democratic debate and discus-
reminder the day before, to generate
sion. Readers get the chance media interest. Include in the release
to judge controversial books the titles of the books you’ve chosen,
for themselves without the a brief history of their challenges, and
censor’s filter. the list of guest readers. (See “Write a
Killer Press Release and Get Publicity!”
To organize your own marathon,
on page 36.) Send releases to the
find a venue that will allow you and
English, communications, drama, and
an audience to “camp out” for the
political science departments at local
required amount of time (e.g., from
high schools and colleges.
an evening to 24 hours). You can
approach bookstores, theatres, cafés, You can also contact the Manitoba
nightclubs, or even comedy clubs to Writers’ Guild at
provide a location. If your marathon for a free Six Weeks to a Reading
to read such as Alice Munro’s Lives of
is going to last 24 hours, plan to feed Marathon kit. The kit provides addi-
Girls and Women, Kevin Major’s Hold
both your readers and the audience! A tional tips for a successful event.
Fast, Joyce Carol Oates’s Foxfire, or J.D.
club or café might be willing to keep its Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Invite Talking about freedom of expression
kitchen staffed for the duration of the local politicians, actors, musicians, is one thing, but reading a banned
marathon. activists, authors, and journalists to or challenged book in its entirety,
Choose compelling and well-known read chapters. You can choose to read in public, is a completely different
books with long histories of challenges one book over the course of the eve- experience.


Organize a Public Debate!

Open debate is one of the past and find appropri- their closing
ate people to debate. remarks.
hallmarks—and safeguards—
(See the list of
of democratic society. Do your “Challenged Books
The keys
part by organizing a debate to the debate’s
and Magazines” on
success are a
about a challenged book and page 31 for ideas.)
strong moderator
get people talking! Set an agenda for the debate. First, who can keep the
If a book is being challenged in allow the challenger to make an discussion lively but
your community, approach the people opening statement and read respectful, a dependable
making the challenge. Offer them the contentious passages. Next, the book’s public address system with sufficient
chance to present their reasons and defender makes a statement to microphones, and a space with good
debate the opposing position. If there’s support the book. After both sides have acoustics. Be sure to publicize the
no book being challenged, research a made their statements, they may refute debate, and make it a part of Freedom
book that has been challenged in the each other’s claims and then present to Read Week in your community.

38 | F R E E D O M T O R E A D 2007
The Internet writers around the world who are per-
secuted for the peaceful expression

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED in learning more about
of their thoughts. Visit this Web
site for information about action
campaigns, upcoming events,
and profiles of members of the
censorship and free expression, here are some
Writers in Exile program.
Web sites to get you started.
Reporters Without Borders
Universal Declaration of Human Rights This international organization works to restore people’s right to
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms be informed in countries where there is no press freedom. The Web site, which
Canada Customs Memorandum on Obscenity (D9-1-1) is updated several times daily, keeps track of attacks on press freedom as they occur and serves as a forum where journalists
Canada Customs Memorandum on Hate Propaganda, Treason, who have been silenced may voice their opinions.
and Sedition (D9-1-15) Union des écrivaines et des écrivains québécois d9-1-15/d9-1-15-e.html
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION ACTIVISTS L’Union des écrivaines et des écrivains québécois est un
organisme sans but lucratif, une association professionnelle
Article 19: The Global Campaign for Free Expression
et un syndicat. Le document ‹‹Liberté d’expression›› trace un
portrait de la censure au Canada et explique quoi faire dans
Named after Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human
un cas de censure.
Rights, this organization campaigns for free expression by moni-
toring and protesting against censorship wherever it occurs. GOOD SOURCES OF INFORMATION
The Web site features information about major free expression
cases, papers about free expression standards, and useful tips American Library Association
on getting involved.
Book and Periodical Council’s Freedom of Expression
This Web site provides information about Banned Books Week
in America. The site features links to the ALA’s most challenged
books list and provides extensive information on celebrating
The Book and Periodical Council (BPC), which represents
freedom to read throughout the United States.
Canadian professional associations in the book and magazine
industries, formed its Freedom of Expression Committee in 1978 International Freedom of Expression Exchange
to resist attempts to ban classic Canadian novels. On this Web
site, you will find information about censorship in Canada and IFEX is a clearing house for news about the activities of free
resources for organizing your own Freedom to Read Week event. expression groups around the world. Its Action Alert Network
Canadian Civil Liberties Association co-ordinates and circulates news of attacks on free expression. Through outreach and development, IFEX supports fledgling
The CCLA is a private non-profit organization that defends the free expression groups in developing countries, and IFEX’s
civil liberties and human rights of people who live in Canada. On weekly e-mail communiqué keeps subscribers informed about
this Web site, you will find information about the CCLA’s efforts global censorship.
to protect Canadians’ freedoms through law reform and informa- kidSPEAK
tion about membership in the CCLA.
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression This Web site started after various groups tried to ban Harry Potter novels but soon broadened its content to include other
CJFE is a non-governmental organization supported by Canadian free expression issues that affect youth. kidSPEAK is not useful
journalists and advocates of free expression. The organization for Canadian youth who want to understand their rights under
defends the rights of journalists and helps develop media the law—the Web site is American and U.S. laws are different—
freedom throughout the world. but is an excellent source for free expression news and informa-
PEN Canada tion aimed at a young audience. Visit the BPC’s Web site,, for a more
PEN (Poets, Essayists, and Novelists) Canada campaigns for extensive list of freedom of expression resources on the Internet.


THANKS TO ALL who participated in Freedom to Read Week 2006 by
hosting an event or creating a display at the following locations:

The All’s Well Mixture at Fair Trade Manitoba Writers’ Guild and McNally
Country Café (Truro, NS) Readings by Robinson Booksellers (Winnipeg, MB)
Dr. N. Kilbey, R. Gariepy, C. Hingley, 24-hour Freedom to Read Marathon
and C. Norman McNally Robinson Booksellers
Buchanan Library at Lethbridge (Calgary, AB) Reading and signing of
Community College (Lethbridge, AB) The Sledding Hill, and speech on free
expression by Chris Crutcher
MEMBERS 2006–07
Display of banned and challenged books
from the library’s collection Access Copyright
McNally Robinson Booksellers
Association of Canadian Book
Calgary Freedom to Read Committee (Calgary, AB) 24-hour Freedom to Read Wholesalers
and Writers’ Guild of Alberta (Calgary, Marathon
Association of Canadian Publishers
AB) Presentation of the official book of Pembroke Public Library (Pembroke, Canadian Book Manufacturers’
Freedom to Read Week to Calgary’s ON) Freedom to Watch film festival Association
city council
PEN Canada and the Toronto Public Canadian Booksellers Association
Calgary Public Library (Calgary, AB) Library at the Toronto Reference Library Canadian Library Association
Freedom to Read essay contest for (Toronto, ON) Interviews with exiled Canadian Publishers’ Council
Grades 7–9 writers from Asia Canadian Science Writers’ Association
Canadian Children’s Book Centre Quinte Writers’ Guild and Belleville Editors’ Association of Canada
(Toronto, ON) Sex, Lies, and Children’s Public Library (Belleville, ON) Speeches League of Canadian Poets
Books on self-censorship by Richard Grove and Literary Press Group of Canada
Canadian Journalists for Free R.D. Roy
Magazines Canada
Expression (Toronto, ON) Music and Red Deer College Library (Red Deer, AB) Periodical Marketers of Canada
dance party featuring Carole MacNeil, Freedom to Read Week contest Playwrights Guild of Canada
co-host of CBC News: Sunday
Red Deer College Library and Red Deer Professional Writers Association
CJSR Radio FM 88 at the University of and District Museum (Red Deer, AB) of Canada
Alberta (Edmonton, AB) Interview with Panel discussion on censorship, and dis- The Writers’ Union of Canada
Dr. Antonia Samek about librarians and play of challenged and banned books
the freedom to read ASSOCIATE MEMBERS 2006–07
Red Deer Public Library (Red Deer, AB)
Association of Book Publishers of
Edmonton Public Library (The Banned Display of challenged and banned books
British Columbia
Books Café) and The Teen Advisory Southern Alberta Council on Public Association of Manitoba
Board at Stanley A. Milner Library, Affairs and Lethbridge Public Library Book Publishers
Centre for Reading and the Arts (Lethbridge, AB) Discussion with Dr. B. Book Publishers Association
(Edmonton, AB) Debates and putting MacKay, Dr. J. von Heyking, and Dr. T. of Alberta
books on trial Robinson on Denmark’s cartoons of the British Columbia Library Association
Faculty of Media and Information Muslim prophet Mohammed
Canadian Children’s Book Centre
Studies at the University of Western University of British Columbia Canadian Copyright Institute
Ontario (London, ON) Reading Out Loud! Bookstore at Robson Square Manitoba Writers’ Guild Inc.
readings and discussion (Vancouver, BC) Robson Reading Series
Ontario Library Association
Geist and the Vancouver Public Library with writers Aaron Bushkowsky and
Linda Rogers Organization of Book Publishers
(Vancouver, BC) Take Back the Page of Ontario
panel discussion with Janine Fuller of University of Guelph at McLaughlin The Writers’ Trust of Canada
Little Sister’s, author Dan Gawthrop, Library (Guelph, ON) Discussions,
journalist Norbert Rubessat, and Sarah display, on-line resources, and movie AFFILIATES 2006–07
Leavitt screenings Disticor Magazine Distribution
Global Importune Inc. and London University of Lethbridge and Services
Central Library (London, ON) Readings Lethbridge Public Library (Lethbridge, Fraser Direct Distribution Services
and lectures on and by persecuted AB) Lectures by Ken Nicol and Trudy Georgetown Terminal Warehouses Ltd.
writers Govier, and exhibition of banned books Pal Benefits Inc.
Lumby United Church (Lumby, BC) University of Manitoba and University Sameday Right-O-Way
Freedom to Read Used Book Sale and Libraries (Winnipeg, MB) 24-hour Universal Logistics Inc.
photo contest Freedom to Read Marathon

40 | F R E E D O M T O R E A D 2007

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