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Book-Banning Vote Not Likely Until August
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
14 July 1998
By Milo Ippolito
The debate over whether to ban Jim Carroll's "Basketball Diaries" from
Gwinnett County libraries probably will not be resolved before August.
County Solicitor Gerald Blaney, who was asked for an opinion on whether the book meets
the state definition of being harmful to minors, won't reveal his conclusion until the
library board can meet. But with several members taking vacations, the full board cannot
get together until the first week of August, library director Jo Ann Pinder said.
Board members are anxiously awaiting word from Blaney. "I don't know why he
doesn't just put his decision in writing and send it to us," Chairman Andy Pourchier
said. Blaney did not return calls seeking comment Monday.
The Gwinnett Library Board voted 2-1 June 8 to ban the book if it is found to be
harmful to minors under state law. One board member was absent, and Pourchier did not vote
because the chairman can vote only to break a tie.
State law requires booksellers to keep materials that are harmful to minors out of
their reach. Libraries are exempt from that law, and thus protected from penalty for
picking up an inappropriate book among their numerous acquisitions.
Board member Jennifer Toombs, who called for the vote on "Basketball
Diaries," said she wants the public library to live by the same rule as the private
sector, but does not want to ban the book unless it is found to fit the state definition
that would require booksellers to put it under wraps.
The book is Carroll's account of growing up in New York, where he went from being a
youth basketball star to being a heroin addict who engaged in prostitution to support his
habit. It all takes place in his pre-teens and early teens and includes graphic
descriptions of drug abuse and a variety of sexual acts. The author also is a poet and a
rocker perhaps best known for his song "People Who Died."
A movie version of the book starring Leonardo DiCaprio gained notoriety when a
Kentucky youth claimed the film inspired him to go on a shooting spree, killing or
injuring several classmates.