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Censorship and Banned Books in Schools

Written by son of rambow on Monday, October 04, 2010

Is it necessary to ban books? Each person answers these questions differently. This is the core of the problem for educators. Books can be found offensive for many reasons. Here are just some reasons taken from Rethinking Schools Online:

* I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou. Reason: Rape scene, "anti-white"
* Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck. Reason: Profanity
* Go Ask Alice Anonymous. Reason: Drug use, sexual situations, profanity
* A Day No Pigs Would Die Robert Newton Peck. Reason: Depiction of pigs mating and being slaughtered.

Many ways exist to ban books. Our county has a group which reads the questionable book and determines whether its educational value exceeds the weight of the objections against it. However, schools can ban books without this lengthy procedure. They just choose not to order the books in the first place. This is the situation in Hillsborough County, Florida. As reported in the St. Petersburg Times, one elementary school will not stock two of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling because of the "witchcraft themes." As the Principal explained it, the school knew they would get complaints about the books so they did not buy them. Many people, including the American Library Association has spoken out against this. I found an article by Judy Blume on the website for the National Coalition Against Censorship to be very interesting. It's title: Is Harry Potter Evil?

The question that faces us in the future is 'when do we stop?' Do we remove mythology and Arthurian legends because of its references to magic? Do we strip the shelves of medieval literature because it presupposes the existence of saints? Do we remove Macbeth because of the murders and witches? I think that most would say there is a point where we must stop. But who gets to pick the point?

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    "There is only one school of literature - that of talent."
~ Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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