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Death Note Ban in Albuquerque High Schools Fails Vote

posted on by Egan Loo
Also: 8th-grader in Pennsylvania suspended after "Death Note" was found

New Mexico's Albuquerque Public Schools held a Thursday hearing over a parent's concerns on the Death Note manga series, but a committee voted unanimously against a proposed district-wide ban on the manga. Peggy Salazar, a mother of a student at Albuquerque's Volcano Vista High School, advocated for the ban and added, "Killing is just not something we should put out there for our kids to read in this way." At least two of the district's 13 other high schools — Valley High School and Atrisco Heritage Academy — also carry the manga in their libraries.

In the Death Note suspense manga, live-action films, and anime adaptation, a teenager finds a notebook with which he can put people to death by writing their names and the dictated manners of death.

According to the KRQE News 13 program, this is the first time in five years that the district had considered banning a book, and a spokesperson told the program that the district had not actually banned a book in recent memory. Tom Genne, one of the seven committee members at Thursday's hearing, said, "High school age kids do grapple with questions about justice and morality, and whether civilization, or the societies of which they are a part of, are making good decisions." Eddie Soto, the district's associate superintendent for secondary education, will make the final decision on the manga.

In a separate development, the WPXI television station reported on Monday that a 14-year-old eighth-grade student from Pennsylvania's Avonworth Middle School was suspended after a "Death Note" list was found on a school bus last week. According to a mother of another eighth-grade student at the school, the notebook paper listed the names of several students in the same grade and teenaged Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber.

Ohio Township police said a student wrote "Death Note" on the upper right corner of the paper, but added that the list did not constitute a crime. Although the police are still investigating, Chief Norbert Micklos told WPXI, "There was nothing that substantiated a threat; just names and a date on it."

There have been at least six previous incidents in the United States where school officials linked "Death Notes" to students being disciplined. A high school senior in Richmond, Virginia was suspended in 2007 over a list of his classmates that the school principal linked to Death Note. A middle school student in Hartsville, South Carolina was "removed" from school over a "Death Note" notebook in March of 2008. In Gadsden, Alabama, two sixth-grade students were arrested in the following month for a notebook that allegedly listed their school staff and fellow students in a manner similar to the Death Note anime. A middle school in Gig Harbor, Washington expelled one student and disciplined three others in May of 2008 for writing 50 names in their own "Death Note" book. Two elementary school students from Oklahoma City were to be disciplined last December for allegedly listing two other students and the manners of their fictional deaths in a "Death Note" notebook. An eighth-grade student was suspended indefinitely from a middle school in Owosso, Michigan after a "Death Note" notebook was found this past March.

On the other hand, a Washington state librarians' group nominated the manga for a young adults' book award. The manga's Taiwanese publisher and a non-profit Taiwanese watchdog group supported the work for raising issues.

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