Author On "Controversial" Book: "They Want To Burn It Like A Witch"

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A few days ago, writer Francesca Lia Block found out that her book, Baby Be-Bop, might get burned. Today, she speaks with Salon, saying:


"My publisher brushed it off at first, but now it's starting to look really serious."

Baby Be-Bop, about the struggles of a gay teenager, was published in 1997. The Christian Civil Liberties Union is suing the library in West Bend, Wisconsin for "damaging" the "mental and emotional well-being" of people by displaying Baby Be-Bop. The CCLU would like the book classified as hate speech, since it contains the word "nigger."

The novel, Block says, is "very sweet, simple, coming-of-age story about a young man's discovery that he's gay." As for the controversial language?

"Obviously I use those words, including 'faggot,' which is also in the book, to expose racism and homophobia, not promote it," she said. "It's a tiny little book," she added, "but they want to burn it like a witch."

There is obvious irony in the fact that a book about someone who is beaten up by gay-bashers and isn't accepted is being targeted, bashed — and possibly publicly burned — because a select few find it unacceptable. Even stranger: Can't the CCLU see that they're actually giving loads of free publicity to an amazing author and a well-loved book?

Additionally, what is the difference between "protecting" children and sheltering them? Can a child be protected from knowledge? How does reading about a gay teenager or seeing the word "nigger" in print, in the context of a story, harm a child?


Meanwhile, Block has some perspective:

"I'd like to show my support for the librarians with any statement I can make. They're the unsung heroes in our society. My brother works on a hotline for gay youth and every night he's talking people down from suicide because they're gay and they're not accepted by the communities they're in."


A Teen Book Burns At The Stake [Salon]
Earlier: "Explicitly Vulgar, Racial, And Anti-Christian"


Erin Gloria Ryan

Aren't there better ways of deciding whether or not books should be burned? Like putting it on a large set of scales to compare its weight to that of a duck?