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Banned books vigil keeps UT community members as prisoners

IC Staff Writer

Published: Thursday, February 2, 2012

Updated: Thursday, February 2, 2012 03:02


Photo illustration by Nick Kneer/ IC

Some books that have been banned over the years include Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1984 and Lord of the Flies. This year’s banned books fundraiser will be a “Jail-a-thon” where students and UT faculty members will be reading a banned book out loud from a jail cell. The “Jail-a-thon” starts today at 10 a.m. and continues throughout the day in the Student Union Building.

The first Jail-A-Thon, a fundraiser to sponsor Banned Books Week, will take place in the Student Union Building today.

Hosted by the Banned Books Committee, the event is meant to raise awareness about banned books week which will hopefully feature a Mark Twain impersonator.

Paulette Kilmer, a member of the committee and professor of communication, said she is looking into a possible dinner-theatre event in Libbey Hall with Twain.

Kilmer said this will be the only fundraiser for next fall's event, and she expects a few hundred dollars to be raised at today's affair.

The fundraiser will feature a mock jail cell, and volunteers with banned books will serve a sentence to symbolize the censorship on literature.

Viewers can contribute $5 or more to keep the "inmates" in jail.

The inspiration for the event was influenced by various parts of the world where people are jailed or killed because of ownership of the banned books.

"When the people go to jail they will read aloud from their banned book, and so it's why I thought it would be appropriate to do a jail cell," Kilmer said.

The schedule for the Jail-A-Thon is as follows:

•    10 a.m.  Tom Barden, Dean of the Honors College will be playing a recording of Bob Dylan singing "John Birch Society Blues."

o    Mojisola Tiamiyu, associate professor of psychology, to be announced.

•    10:15 a.mSG President Matt Rubin, "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley

•    11 a.m.  Ben Pryor, vice provost and dean of the College of Innovative Learning, "Ulysses" by James Joyce

o    IC Managing Editor Vincent D. Scebbi, "A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess,

•    12:30 p.m. Glenn Sheldon, "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg

•    2 p.m.  Charlene Gilbert, professor and chair of the Department of Women and Gender Studies, "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" by Barbara Ehrenreich.

o    Barbara Mauter, "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury

•    2:30 p.m.  Joel Lipman, professor of English, Shel Silverstein's, "A Light in the Attic & Where the Sidewalk Ends"

Kilmer said Americans take the First Amendment for granted because it is an assumed right, and they do not realize what other nations struggle with in terms of their rights.

"An example of censorship is the one with electronic media affecting things like Facebook and Twitter that has so many people using it. It's really a battle for the First Amendment," Kilmer said.

She wants people to walk up and wonder what is happening and understand how precious the right to read is.

"So often people take it for granted and maybe even resent it because of homework," Kilmer said. "For students, they may be ones to resent it because they have to read textbooks and would much rather play their electronic games or go on Facebook. But the right to read is one of the most fantastic gifts that we are given as American citizens. Unfortunately, it's on the list of civil rights the UN declares not universal and there are places in the world where education is limited because it is a way of controlling people."

She said how some of her friends work in libraries in school systems that are banning a variety books because they might be controversial.

The 15th annual Banned Books week is Sept. 30 to Oct. 6.


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