The Article About Banned Books that Yahoo...Banned.

Below is an exact copy of an article I submitted for publication to the Yahoo Contributor Network. I have been cranking out articles for them for the past couple months, all of which were accepted and published until now. For some reason, this one was deemed unacceptable by their standards.

I am posting the article here because I'm curious to know what exactly was the issue. Below the article is the editor's response to the piece and below that are the sections of their submission guidelines that most closely relate to the rubber stamped feedback I received:

Every year, a list of banned books gets circulated and those who find the very idea abhorrent tell everybody they're going to read those books just because they have been banned. Unlike in the not-so-distant past, books that get banned are no longer being withheld from adults who might find them interesting. These days, it's kids who suffer the most.

This phenomenon isn't limited to the Bible belt or the Midwest either. And while the majority of those with a vested interest in suppressing the written word tended to be right wing in the United States, that is most certainly no longer the case. It's becoming increasingly as common to hear parents decrying a book selection for their kids because they portray racism as it is to find objections to sexual content. So-called "political correctness" is just as much a motivator for censorship as prudishness.

In response, an observation known as "Banned Book Week" sprung up in an attempt to expose what they saw as the sheer stupidity of censorship. On the organization's website, they write, "Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries."

Reasons for book banning range from finding subject matter offensive to avoiding controversy. Millions of parents are apparently so afraid of their children reading such books that they feel the need to prevent them from doing so. The very Freedom of Speech that allows writers to create works they choose is also used to curb the reach of those works in favor of such vagaries as "Christian decency" and "racial sensitivity."

To ban a book is to also ban an idea and, often, a truth. It is the act of thought control many of its proponents are the first to speak out against when it's happening in a way they don't sanction. Limiting access to important and controversial written work is tantamount to societal blindfolding, a crippling act that has developed a culture of sub-literate, provincial loudmouths who think opinions are as good as facts. So, why is it ultimately good for society?

For starters, the mere act of banning something increases interest in it. That might not be true amongst the Mormons of Utah who feel justified in watching non-studio approved edits of Hollywood films, but most people want to know what all the fuss is about. Why, they wonder, is that book no longer on the required reading list? What could possibly make it so objectionable?

One of the reasons libraries must never go away is because they stand as the vanguard against censorship and selective release of information. If parents in a staggeringly ignorant move decide Mark Twain's fiction is racially insensitive or encourages rebellion, kids can go to their library and decide for themselves.

It's never too early to learn critical thinking, regardless of what many Americans believe. Even a child has the capacity to observe and record and interpret…with help. Instead of suppressing that, we should be encouraging it and helping it along.

The other reason book banning is a boon to society is even more vital, and it's surprising that those so hot to do it haven't picked up on this yet. Banning books keeps the written word at a high level of importance. Perhaps many religious Americans know better than to try and eliminate the perception of written words being important because they know how that would make their insistence that the Bible or whatever religious book they follow is the most important a bit less acceptable.

While people are still actively engaged in book banning, that means books still have the power to inspire, instill, change and even outrage readers. True, many of these people have never read the books they want to see gone, but again their actions inspire others to do so.

Whoever said, "I don't care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right" had the right idea. As long as people still care enough to go after books that make them uncomfortable, that means books haven't become dusty relics without purpose. How can that not be beneficial to society?

Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately, we cannot publish this content because it contains language, references, or ideas deemed inappropriate by Yahoo! Contributor Network. We encourage you to consult our Submission Guidelines for more information.
Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately, we cannot publish this content, because it contains language, references or ideas deemed inappropriate by Yahoo Contributor Network. We encourage you to consult our Submission Guidelines for more information.


Don't go "there." Examples of content we won't publish or link to: Anything pornographic, threatening, obscene, defamatory, or abusive; hate speech; anything that encourages illegal or discriminatory conduct; anything containing potentially offensive generalizations about a group of people; anything that promotes online gambling sites; anything that infringes on the rights of a third party; anything that constitutes or encourages cyber-bullying. This list is not exhaustive. (We recognize that many of these descriptors are necessarily subjective, but in order to maintain a library of great content that’s safe for all Web readers, we will apply these standards at our sole discretion, as necessary.)

Don’t rant. We welcome your authentic personal perspective, but we ask you to avoid using an extremely negative tone. Criticism should be thoughtful and measured, should make clear distinctions between opinion and fact, and should cite sources when appropriate. If you just need to vent, your personal blog is a more suitable venue. Never let frustration lead you to factually misrepresent any individual, product, business, service, or other entity.

On the off chance I didn't include a relevant reason for the rejection based on the editor's remarks, click the hyperlink above and read the entire thing. I did. I still don't see it.


Who Am I? said…
While I agree with you on this since I also do not like book banning, I think the tone justifies the ranting comment. The remark about Mormons is potentially offensive. Since I can't compare this with anything, I can't say you ranted more than usual so I can't speak to that.

Anyway, that's my two cents about why they probably didn't publish it. This isn't a commentary on the content or your viewpoint.
c nadeau said…
Then I guess verifiable reality is offensive to yahoo since the hyperlink clearly shows the claims are justified. I guess that's why they're shutting down at the end of the month.

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