Chinatown Wars Cover Gets Nintendo Power Yanked From School Library; ACLU Steps In

March 24, 2009 -

The American Civil Liberties Union has intervened after a middle school library in Ohio removed the November, 2008 issue of Nintendo Power.

The issue, which features a gun-toting female character from Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, was taken out of circulation at the Roxboro Middle School Library at the direction of Principal Brian Sharosky, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

However, ACLU of Ohio executive director Christine Link argued that the magazine should not have been banned from the library:

Literature should not be removed from a school library simply because one person may find it inappropriate... [the school board should] immediately order that the magazine be reinstated.

Despite Link's argument, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School Board has backed the principal's decision to remove Nintendo Power #234. With legal action on the matter increasingly likely, legal director Jeff Gamso offered the ACLU's position:

The principal doesn't get to say, 'Whatever I say goes.' There's got to be some mechanism by which decisions are made and a process of review. Or maybe tomorrow it'll be ' "Hamlet" -- that's an iffy play.'

UPDATE: Liz Surette of GamesLaw has provided a legal analysis of the issues in this case:

This situation is almost exactly like a case called Board of Education v. Pico, in which parents petitioned the school board to remove specific books that were “improper fare for school students” or “just plain filthy”.

The Supreme Court held that once a publication is in a school library, it may not be removed just because it is thought objectionable. The school board may decide which books and periodicals to purchase, but once they are made available on the shelves the children have a right to access that information. If the removal was motivated by a desire to deny students access to ideas with which the school disagrees, then it is unconstitutional.

However, the Court also said that the First Amendment is not implicated if the materials are removed because they are "pervasively vulgar" or if the decision was "otherwise based solely upon the 'educational suitability' of the books". The key fight here will be whether the principal removed NP for partisan/political reasons. I could go into much more detail about the policy rationale behind Pico and tensions with later cases, but suffice it to say that based on precedent the ACLU would surely win if they could prove that the principal pulled the mag just because he found it offensive or disagreeable.


Comments

Re: Chinatown Wars Cover Gets Nintendo Power Yanked From ...

gang violence, teen sex and suicides are clearly the fault of Romeo and Juliet, ban this filth immediately!

Re: Chinatown Wars Cover Gets Nintendo Power Yanked From ...

You really want to go there?

http://www.aclufightsforchristians.com/

 

Just saying...

Re: Chinatown Wars Cover Gets Nintendo Power Yanked From ...

So...what's your argument?  So what if it's a middle school?

 

Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cook-book! Little Red Cook-book!

Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cook-book! Little Red Cook-book!

Re: Chinatown Wars Cover Gets Nintendo Power Yanked From ...

While normally I'm the first one to hate on the ACLU (Duke lacrosse anyone?), I'm actually glad that they have now tied themselves, however lightely, to this issue. Because, despite their plethora of faults, they have shittons of lawyers. And in this country, having shittons of lawyers on your side is never a bad thing.

Unless they are disbared.

Re: Chinatown Wars Cover Gets Nintendo Power Yanked From ...

How were they involved with the Duke Lacrosse team case? I don't remember much about it, for some reason.

Re: Chinatown Wars Cover Gets Nintendo Power Yanked From ...

Early on, they were really vocal about it, saying the woman's rights were being violated etc. They silently slipped away as it dragged on however. It was just the first thing that popped into my head at the time :P

Re: Chinatown Wars Cover Gets Nintendo Power Yanked From ...

Oh, maybe that's why. I picked up on it a bit later in the whole mess.

Re: Chinatown Wars Cover Gets Nintendo Power Yanked From ...

Question is: is it literature or advertizing? On one hand, should it be okay to advertise an M-rated game in a middle school, or should it be protected like all violent books?

Re: Chinatown Wars Cover Gets Nintendo Power Yanked From ...

good point you have, but the problem the ACUL has os that the scholl pulled the magazing not because of advertising but because of the content.

http://www.magicinkgaming.com/

Re: Chinatown Wars Cover Gets Nintendo Power Yanked From ...

damn not the first poster

I have to admit i was a little surprised by this, though the cynical side of me thinks it probably happens more often than we would care to realize, that some authority type person can just pull a magazine because they personally disagree with it, I fully hope that the Civil Liberties Union goes to town on them and sets a future precedence that this kind of shaz doesn't take place in a "civilized" society

Re: Chinatown Wars Cover Gets Nintendo Power Yanked From ...

"civilized"

So glad you put that in quotes!

Praetorian

"I've been told I'm the resident skeptic, but I wouldn't believe that."

http://www.myspace.com/pree_tawr_ee_uhn



Praetorian

"If you sit by the river long enough, you will see the body of your enemy floating by."

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Re: Chinatown Wars Cover Gets Nintendo Power Yanked From School

"Literature should not be removed from a school library simply because one person may find it inappropriate... [the school board should] immediately order that the magazine be reinstated."

Agree. As a matter of fact i belive there was a court reading that state that principals can't just wank out certain literature just because he dosen't like the artical.

 

http://www.magicinkgaming.com/

Re: Chinatown Wars Cover Gets Nintendo Power Yanked From School

can't just wank out certain literature just because he dosen't like the artical

I sincerely hope you are using that word in a way I don't wholly understand, or you meant yank.

Re: Chinatown Wars Cover Gets Nintendo Power Yanked From ...

I agree!

Besides, I'd love to see more hot, gun wielding, chinese girls any day...well, as long as they are shooting at me.

Praetorian

"I've been told I'm the resident skeptic, but I wouldn't believe that."

http://www.myspace.com/pree_tawr_ee_uhn



Praetorian

"If you sit by the river long enough, you will see the body of your enemy floating by."

http://www.myspace.com/pree_tawr_ee_uhn

Re: Chinatown Wars Cover Gets Nintendo Power Yanked From ...

So either you have a getting-shot-at-by-Chinese-girls fetish (Paging Dr. Freud!) or that's a typo.  I'm leaning towards the latter.  But you can't fix it now, ha ha!

 

"That's not ironic. That's justice."

"That's not ironic. That's justice."
 
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