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Censoring Books Is a 'No-No'

August 30, 1987

Marcella Melendez entirely misses the point of Al Martinez's column, just as she misses the point in the furor she and her friends are creating in Culver City. The issue here is the censoring of books, in this case, "Changing Bodies, Changing Lives" by Ruth Bell. I believe that Martinez's concern about censorship is too obliquely stated in his column. That is unfortunate. But there is no doubt that he decries the attempt to prevent young people from learning about sexual behavior as being futile and having dangerous results.

It is most preferable that they learn facts through reading rather than by being exposed to cinema, TV and tabloids for their only information. His implication is that discussion of factual reading material in the home helps young people establish a healthy value system. Home, family and books supply us all with the emotional and intellectual strength with which to cope with life.

A paranoid approach to the printed word will eventually backfire. Publicizing her opposition to a particular book makes it most attractive. Publicizing her opposition to any book and her attempt to prevent anyone from reading anything is a big no-no in a democratic society. Melendez and friends have the freedom to choose their own reading material and that of their families. She and they have absolutely no freedom to choose the reading material for me and mine. That's the primary issue here. The controversy now is over "Changing Bodies, Changing Lives." Tomorrow it can be another book.

Thank you, Al Martinez.

DIANE MALTZMAN

Culver City

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