INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosiers can now fashionably express their displeasure with a Hamilton County library’s controversial decision to pull “The Fault in Our Stars” off the teen section’s shelves with a “You Won’t Catch Me Alive or Dead in Fishers, Indiana” t-shirt.
Produced by Midwest clothing company Raygun, the t-shirt was made with permission from “The Fault in Our Stars” author John Green who sounded off on Wednesday by calling Hamilton East Public Library “an embarrassment” after the library board’s new policy moved the best-selling teen novel out of the Young Adult section and into the Adult section.
Green called the decision “ludicrous” and tweeted that the book “is about teenagers and I wrote it for teenagers. Teenagers are not harmed by reading TFIOS. This is such an embarrassment…”
He went on, in a tweet that appears to have since been deleted, to say that “you won’t catch me alive or dead in Fishers, Indiana until these ridiculous policies are revoked.” Raygun quickly reached out to Green seeking permission to print the now available t-shirt that echoes this quote.
Raygun said a portion of the t-shirt sales will go toward supporting the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library in Indianapolis.
The controversial move by Hamilton East Public Library Board to pull “The Fault in Our Stars” from the Young Adult section has garnered national attention after Green sounded off online with many expressing support of the novel.
“It was absolutely beautiful and not something to hide from,” Twitter user @amalranthony wrote, who said she read the novel with her teenager. “HEPL is a disgrace.”
The library said the title was relocated to the Adult section due to a new policy passed by the library board that requires all material to be reviewed to ensure the books are “age appropriate.”
According to our previous reports, “age-appropriate” materials cannot contain sexual content or descriptions of sexual content. In “The Fault in Our Stars,” a teenage girl who is a cancer patient meets a teenage cancer survivor and the pair fall in love, eventually losing their virginity to one another.
Libraries’ decisions to move books to other sections or ban them outright for the inclusion of sexual, gender identity or LGBTQ+ content has been met with frequent criticism and heated debates across the United States from both supporters and opponents of such decisions.
Critics often point out that sexual content isn’t seen as “age appropriate” for teenagers as studies show that most Americans have intercourse for the first time as a teenager. Green argued that his books are about teens and deal with things teenagers experience and therefore deserve to be in the Young Adult section.
The Hamilton East Public Library previously said the cost of the new policy will likely run upwards of $300,000 due to the library needing to hire more staff to review all the material to ensure the books are “age appropriate.”
“I think the money could definitely be better spent elsewhere,” library patron Jacob Shillings previously remarked.
In a longer statement posted by Green on Wednesday, the author called the library board’s move “political theater of the lowest and most embarrassing order.”
“I implore you to walk this awful policy back,” Green said.
Fishers City Council member Todd Zimmerman backed Green by expressing his disappointment in the library board’s actions and said the decision “is not a shared view.”
Jocelyn Vare, also a Fishers City Council member, also chimed in by saying, “I have fought back with citizens against the ridiculous censorship by Hamilton East Public Library board. Our community does NOT support this!”
Vare also tweeted, “This is censorship motivated by board members’ political ambition.”
The Indianapolis Public Library reminded Hoosiers that “The Fault in Our Stars” will continue to be shelved in their teen section. Green thanked the library while commenting that he actually wrote parts of the novel at the downtown Indianapolis library.
PEN America also condemned the move and called on Hamilton East Public Library to restore more than 1,300 Young Adult books to their rightful place arguing moving the books to the Adult section will make it harder for teenagers to find novels written for them and their experiences.
“The ongoing review of books in Hamilton East Public Library is distressing. Teens have books that are written with them in mind; that is precisely what a YA collection is about. To dismantle that runs the risk of making teens disinclined to read, taking away their opportunity to explore and distill their own interests, or even to feel welcome in a library. The entire review appears motivated by a distrust of young people, and an interest in curbing what ideas and information they have access to… In a letter to the district, John Green was right to call it ‘political theater of the lowest and most embarrassing order.’”Free Expression and Education programs director Jonathan Friedman of PEN America