Friday, February 06, 2009

Cuba Libro Prohibito

Vamos a Cuba is back in the news. I'm glad that the Dade County schools are in such great shape that people can expend their energy on this.


Becky said...

wow. and that's not a good 'wow.'

Alex Flinn said...

I'm not sure how I feel about this one. I'm from Miami, and yes, emotions run high on this subject. But are inaccurate informational books a protected form of speech? Not sure. The controversy would have been avoided if the school had simply not bought the book in the first place, based upon reviews which stated that it was inaccurate. However, I'm uncertain whether the typical reviewer from the Midwest or New England would have recognized the inaccuracies. This is a bit like Debbie Reese's blog about inaccurate Native American books. Sure, libraries still carry those. But if a community was 50% Native American (as Miami is 50% Cuban), I'd think the library would be less likely to stock such inaccurate books. I notice no one had much of a problem with an inaccurate Jewish book (Angel Girl) being pulled from the shelves a while back. How is this different, other than the fact that AG was portrayed as fiction, while this was portrayed as nonfiction? Never thought I'd be coming down on the side of pulling a book, and I'm not sure I am now, but it's food for thought.

Roger Sutton said...

Alex, it depends on what you mean by inaccurate. I don't have the book here, but I remember the main objection had to do with a sentence like "children in Cuba eat, play, and go to school just like you do." Critics maintained that because food is scarce, kids have little time to play, and education is ideologically-driven, saying "just like you do" was inaccurate (despite the fact that kids can go hungry, have little time for play, and go to crap schools right here in the U.S.). I wouldn't call that sentence inaccurate, just poorly written. There was something else that was flat-out inaccurate about Cuba's prehistoric period, which is what the censors fixed on when their initial objection wasn't flying. But it was a minor point, and required a level of fact checking that other books in the library were simply not subjected to. I'm reminded again of my old non-apocryphal tale of a librarian who didn't purchase the graphically illustrated sex-ed book Show Me! because "it didn't have an index." That was the excuse, not the reason.