Posted on Monday, 11.16.09
Court won't get involved in book banning case
By LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ and JESSE J. HOLLAND
Associated Press Writers
MIAMI — The Supreme Court is staying out of a dispute in Miami between
school officials and civil libertarians over a book about Cuba that
depicts smiling children in communist uniforms but avoids mention of
problems in the country.
The justices on Monday rejected an appeal from the American Civil
Liberties Union of Florida that sought to prevent Miami officials from
removing the book "Vamos a Cuba" and its English-language version, "A
Visit to Cuba," from library shelves.
The Miami-Dade County School District board wants to ban the book,
intended for children ages 5 to 8, because it does not mention limits on
civil liberties in Cuba, political indoctrination of public school
children and food rationing among other issues. Board members voted to
remove the book after a parent who spent time as a political prisoner in
The school district would not immediately comment on the decision.
Frank Bolanos, a former Miami-Dade school board chair who championed
efforts to remove the book, said he was pleased.
"I support the author's right to publish the book as incomplete and
defective as it may be," he said, "but we're simply not required to pay
for it with taxpayers dollars," he said, although the district already
spent money to buy the book. Bolanos said the case sets precedent for
districts to back parents' rights in future cases.
The ACLU disagreed.
"These books were removed under the guise of 'inaccuracies,' but the
real reason they were removed was because the books ran afoul of the
political orthodoxy of a majority of the school board members," Florida
director Howard Simon said in a statement Monday.
"If that is to become the new standard for censoring books from public
library shelves, the ACLU may be immersed in censorship battles for
years to come."
A federal judge in Miami ruled that the board should add books of
different perspectives instead of removing offending titles. But the
11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta said the district wouldn't
be infringing on freedom of speech rights by removing the book because
it presents an inaccurate view of life in Cuba.
The 2001 book by Alta Schreier contains images of smiling children
wearing uniforms of Cuba's communist youth group and celebrating the
country's 1959 revolution. In discussing daily life, the book says
children work, study and play the same way children in other countries do.
The case is ACLU v. Miami-Dade County School Board, 08-1564.
Court won't get involved in book banning case – Cuba News –
MiamiHerald.com (16 November 2009)
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