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This Week is Banned Books Week

Short films about banned books, a theater performance of The Wizard of Oz, and notable Pittsburghers reading from censored works will highlight Pittsburgh’s 17th Banned Books Week.

The ACLU of Greater Pittsburgh, in conjunction with the Carnegie Library and WYEP, is hosting “FREADom” on Thursday  to celebrate free expression in art and literature.  

Bruce Boni, Vice President for Programs and Public Education for the ACLU, said the night will include performances and readings, and Warhol Museum Director Eric Shiner will offer a presentation on censored art.

Boni said censorship has declined in the past decades, but it does still happen, and it usually starts when a controversial book appears in a local or school library.

“Some either parent, or community group, or church group finds that this book is on the shelves and is offended by something in it,” said Boni. “And it can be lots of different reasons. And instead of just not taking that book out and not reading it, they’ll try to have the book removed from the library.”

He said once a book is removed the ACLU can get involved legally and ask judges to order it back on the shelves.

Boni said it's important to celebrate that the nation in enshrined in the belief in a free flow of ideas. He said people should be able to access all forms of art.  

“If we have access to all information, good ideas and good art will sort of bubble up to the top and bad ideas and bad art will just eventually be ignored,” said Boni. “But that’s not a reason to keep it from the public view.”

FREADomwill begin at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Frick Fine Arts Building in Oakland and is free to the public.