‘50 Shades’ of censorship

Barbra Streisand will finally perform in her hometown, Brooklyn. AP FILE PHOTO
Barbra Streisand will finally perform in her hometown, Brooklyn. AP FILE PHOTO
Posted: May 11, 2012

The cheesy sex novel has long been a staple of literature, and it’s always a problem when staples are taken away.

But public libraries in several states are pulling the racy romance trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey from shelves or deciding not to order the best-seller at all, saying it’s too steamy or too poorly written.

Like there are no poorly written books in libraries.

“When a book is removed from the shelf, folks who can’t afford a Nook or a Kindle, the book is no longer available to them,” said Deborah Caldwell Stone, of the American Library Association’s office for intellectual freedom.

Fifty Shades of Grey, this generation’s “9?1/2 Weeks,” has been called “mommy porn” because of its popularity among middle-age women.

This week, the trilogy holds the top three spots on the New York Times best-seller list.

Libraries in Wisconsin, Georgia and, of course, crazy Florida, all have had issues with the book.

“It’s semi-pornographic,” said Don Walker, a spokesman for Brevard County, Fla., where the library put 19 copies of the book on the shelves and then pulled them after reading reviews. About 200 notices had to go out to people on the book’s waiting list.

“It doesn’t suit our community standards,” said Cay Hohmeister, director of libraries for Leon County, home of Florida’s capital.

Even though hundreds of people in the community want to read it.

Pinellas County in Florida doesn’t cater to the same community. Its library system has 30 copies and more than 650 people on a waiting list. Broward County carries 26 copies and has more than 730 people waiting.

In Gwinnett County, Ga., not one of 15 library branches will carry the book.

“We do not collect erotica at Gwinnett County Public Library. That’s part of our materials-management collection policy,” said Deborah George, director of materials management.

Gwinnett’s libraries do carry Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, books that also previously were banned because of their sexual content. But a library would look pretty silly pandering to would-be censors by banning those books now.

TATTBITS

Aretha Franklin is one of six people who’ll be inducted into the GMA Gospel Hall of Fame on Aug. 14 in Hendersonville, Tenn. She’ll be joined by bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs, family group the Hoppers, contemporary Christian singer Dallas Holm, the late TV evangelist Rex Humbard and Christian rock band Love Song.

Barbra Streisand is going home to Brooklyn, the New York borough where she was born and raised but has never performed publicly.

That will change Oct. 11, when she plays Brooklyn’s new Barclays Center, the new home of NBA’s Nets.

CEO Brett Yormark says Barbra’s concert will be a defining moment for the arena.

Tom Gabel, lead singer of punk--rock band Against Me! says he’s becoming a woman.

“Growing up, my experience with transsexualism was nothing but shame,” Gabel told Rolling Stone. He says his new name will be Laura Jane Grace. He says he’s not attracted to men and will still be married to his wife. They have a 2-year-old daughter.

So it doesn’t just take a village to raise a child. It takes Greenwich Village.

NBC has renewed “Law & Order: SVU” for a 14th season.

Every year, a new crop of child actors arrives in New York eager to be abducted. n

— Daily News wire services

contributed to this report.

Email gensleh@phillynews.com.

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