Censoring Dragonology

In “What Do Batman and The Onion Book of Known Knowledge Have in Common? Censorship, the ACLU, and Arizona Prisons. Read in” by Corrina Reginer (source), she makes a useful connection between Banned Books Week, the Pell Grant for Prisoners, and censorship.

Here are some books that are currently banned by the Arizona prison system:

  • Sketching Basics
  • Batman: Eye of the Beholder
  • Rand McNally Family World Atlas
  • E=MC2: Simple Physics
  • Acupressure for Emotional Healing
  • Arizona Wildlife Views
  • The Onion Book of Known Knowledge
  • Merck Manual of Medical Information: Home Edition
  • Mythology of Greece and Rome
  • Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons

These and hundreds of other titles were banned in Arizona prisons just last year, the ACLU learned this summer through a public records request. They join the ranks of countless books, magazines, and other printed materials barred from prisons and jails across the country through processes that lack transparency and allow for dangerous levels of subjectivity – perhaps the most dramatic example being a South Carolina jail that effectively prevented prisoners from receiving all books, magazines, and newspapers except for the Bible, until challenged by the ACLU.

The First Amendment protects our right to access information and ideas, even while incarcerated. So how can this happen? The problem stems from an overbroad and poorly monitored federal regulation, upheld by the US Supreme Court in Thornburgh v. Abbott, allowing prison officials to censor material that is “detrimental to the security, good order, or discipline of the institution” or that “might facilitate criminal activity.” Such a regulation is understandable when you consider the potential risks of books that, say, instruct readers on the manufacture of weapons or methods of escape. But it’s hard to see how the above list of books could be placed in such a category.

See also Books To Prisoners & Codified Censorship (source)

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