What year is it? This is a real question. Throughout history, various people and groups of all persuasions for all sorts of reasons (though “sexual content” is a frequent offender), have attempted to suppress anything that conflicts with their own beliefs. We are in the home stretch of 2013, and there are people still attempting – and succeeding – to prevent a particular work from being read by the public. Restriction of free thought and free speech is harmful, un-American, and really lame. The thing about freedom of expression is that it’s for everyone. If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we disagree with, we don’t believe in it at all.
So, subversive readers, for Banned Books Week, we present a list of totally idiotic and recent instances of book banning (one happened just last week!).
by Ralph Ellison
Invisible Man is currently banned September, 2013 from a school in Randolph County, North Carolina.
Banning it is stupid because: One school board member is quoted to have said he found no literary value in the book, which won the National Book Award in 1953 and is widely considered one of the greatest books in American literature. The novel deals with issues of race in the context of American history and The Great Depression.
Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie
The book was banned, in August, 2013, from the sixth grade summer reading list at a public school in Queens, New York, after a number of parents expressed outrage over the topic of masturbation brought up in the memoir directed at young adults.
The same book was banned in July, 2013 at a Richland, WA school library. Two members of the school board asked to recast their votes in favor of keeping the book after they actually read it. The book was reinstated a month later.
Banning it is stupid because: The book directs and relates issues of race and the identity struggles of Native American to a young adult audience, and in 2007, it won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, among many other awards.
The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner was removed from class use at a Troy, PA, public school in March, 2012. Controversy has arisen around the book particularly from one scene of child rape, and one of the board members argued that it was unreasonable to use the book as teaching material because it is a work of fiction.
Banning it is stupid because: The book has been applauded for its depiction of Afghani culture, and is no less valuable as learning material because it is a novel rather than a history text.
The Bluest Eye
by Toni Morrison
The book has been subject to numerous challenges and bans, including a call by Alabama state legislator Bill Holtzclaw to ban the book from Alabama schools this past August, 2013, and the Ohio board of education’s president also moved to ban the book from Ohio school classrooms, in September, 2013.
Banning it is stupid because: Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, The Bluest Eye a monumental work in discussing race in American culture. The challenges oppose the books language use and content of rape and pedophilia, likening the subject matter to pornography.
The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood
This book was challenged for being on a reading list for students at Grimsley High School in NC in November, 2012, by parents of the community who found the book’s content as offensive to Christianity, violent and sexual.
Banning it is stupid because: Atwood’s novel probes the reader to question the subjective role of female individuality in a dystopian society. It has been awarded a number of literary awards, including the Booker Prize.
The Most Dangerous Game
by Richard Connell
The short story was challenged at the Bromley East Charter School in Brighton, Colorado in November, 2012 by a parent for encouraging school violence.
Banning it is stupid because: The story’s premise of hunting humans for sport acts as a criticism on violence in society, rather than a perpetrator for it, and has been used for years in classrooms for teaching literary symbolism.
500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures
by Elizabeth Martinez
The book was removed from the Tucson, Arizona Unified School district libraries in January, 2012 along with a number of Chicano history and culture books when the school board terminated its Mexican-American Studies program after Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal threatened to withdraw funding if not done.
Banning it is stupid because: Over 60% of students in the Tucson area are of Mexican-American decent, and the ban of this book represents the ignorance with which their education is being treated.
The Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls
The memoir was challenged for being on a 9th-grade reading list in December, 2012, by parents at Traverse City West Senior High School in Michigan who were disturbed by its portrayal of child molestation, violence and adolescent sex as well as explicit language. The book was later reinstated in the school with an opt-out option for students to choose an alternative book to the one they are assigned.
Banning it is stupid because:The memoir recounts real-life struggles of children surrounded by poverty and alcoholism, and discusses the universal need to confront challenges.
by Marjane Satrapi
Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel was banned in March, 2013, from all Chicago public schools. The content was deemed too graphic, centering on one drawing that refers to torture.The ban was later reduced to limiting seventh-grade access after students expressed outrage over the ban via social media and through demonstrations.
Banning it is stupid because: This is a memoir which recounts a child’s experience of the Iranian revolution and which deals itself with issues of government censorship. The images depict political and personal history through illustrations that are of a minimalist rather than graphic style.