A new way to resolve Pico-type cases?

Paul Horwitz phorwitz at hotmail.com
Thu Sep 13 06:52:26 PDT 2007

>From the Tuscaloosa News, Sept. 12, 2007:

Naughty novel?
Student, grandmother confiscate library book

By Lydia Seabol Avant
Staff Writer

BROOKWOOD | Fifteen-year-old Lysa Harding picked a book at random from 
Brookwood High’s library for a book report last week.

Now, she doesn’t want to return it.

Harding and her grandmother, Pam Pennington, say the book is too sexually 
explicit and shouldn’t be on school library bookshelves.

The school library won’t allow her to check out another book until she 
returns this one, and that’s not going to happen, they said.

“This book is sick,” said Pennington. “I’m 50 years old, and I’ve raised 11 
sets of kids and been through many a library, and I’ve never seen a book 
like this in a school library before.”

The novel, “Sandpiper” by Ellen Wittlinger tells the story of a 15-year-old 
girl named Sandpiper Hollow Ragsdale, who is on a “sexual power trip and 
engages in random hookups” for oral sex, according to a review by the School 
Library Journal. Ragsdale befriends one boy, but then is abused by another.

* * * **

Harding . . . said she believes the book goes into too much graphic detail 
for a high school crowd.

“I honestly believe that it should not be at school, because at my school 
they teach abstinence and no sex before marriage, but then all the book is 
teaching is how to do those things,” she said.

* * *

The school system has a procedure to complain about the content of books, [a 
school official] said.

But Pennington and Harding are standing behind their belief that the book is 
inappropriate for any school. They said they don’t intend to return the 
book. Harding faces late fees or a $25 charge to replace the book if it’s 
not returned by Friday.

“I feel that it is the most mature thing to do, to keep it off the shelves,” 
she said.

* * * * *

Paul Horwitz
Associate Professor
University of Alabama School of Law

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