Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Extra! Extra! Censorship

In honor of banned books week, I thought that I would write a post on censorship, and some of the most commonly banned books today, and the “reasons” why they came under fire.

Censorship is basically when a certain books gets criticized by commonly a group of parents or a foreign government system, who think that a particular book sends a bad message to the target audience, which is usually somewhere between first grade to high school students. Most books are censored for drug use, sexual content, swearing, homosexuality, and most commonly religious views, in particular “satanic influences”. Now, these things seem pretty reasonable to ban books over, but these things often are taken way out of hand. For example, these books below are only some of the books that were under fire for being “inappropriate”.

Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne

So apparently this book was banned in schools all across the United States, as recently as 2006 because talking animals are apparently considered an “insult to God”. I am not really sure why, and I don’t know who came up with this idea, but I’m pretty sure that the author didn’t write this book in order to offend God. Several institutions in the UK and Turkey also claim that Piglet is an insult to Muslims and several other institutions claim that the book revolves around Nazism. Where people get these ideas, I do not know.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.

Yes, this is the children’s rhyming book with colorful pictures that everyone has read at least once in their life. This book if anything should be praised for showing children not to be picky eaters and to try something new once in a while, but no, that’s not how some people see it. Up until 1991 this book apparently has undertones of “homosexual seduction”. Yes, I am being dead serious. This book was banned in parts of California for just that reason.  

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

In 1928, this book was banned in all libraries of Chicago for having an “ungodly influence” and for “depicting women in strong leadership roles”. Number one, I know that this was back in 1928, but how sexist can the government really get? I mean come on, banning a book for showing women in strong leadership roles? Women being independent is almost as bad as talking animals (note sarcasm). Also, in 1957, the Detroit Public Library banned this book because it has “no value for children of today”. Ok sure, like Captain Underpants and Diary of a Wimpy Kid have such value for kids today.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

This was banned in several schools up to 2010 for many reasons including “sexual content and homosexual tendencies”, being “too depressing”, and “pornographic tendencies”. All I have to say is what, what, and what?? Where in this book is there explicit sexual content anywhere? Ok, so I get the too depressing part, but like it or not, this is a part of our history. It may be depressing or sad, but children should learn about it so things like the Holocaust don’t happen again. This goes hand in hand with schools not wanting to teach students about the Holocaust or slavery anymore because they think that we can just erase that part of the world’s history by simply not talking about it. Like or not, it’s already happened, and we can’t change the past no matter how much we want to, so instead of attempting to erase the past, we might as well embrace it and learn from our mistakes.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

So if you know the basics about Harry Potter, if would be pretty safe to assume that this book would be criticized for its witchcraft and satanic tendencies, and you would be correct. Many, many, many, Christian organizations had this book banned for those very reasons. Yes this, book centers around witches and wizards, and yes they teach subjects like divination at Hogwarts, but this book isn’t telling children to go out and worship the devil, and the divination class at Hogwarts is portrayed as being a joke more than anything. This book came under more fire from Christians than Phillip Pullman’s book The Golden Compass which is literally criticizing the church directly the entire book. People can’t even make the excuse that the criticisms it made were indirect, naming the evil government the Magisterium was a pretty big hint and these same people went out of their way to ban Green Eggs and Ham for “homosexual seduction”.

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

This is one of the more recent books that came under fire, it being a more current book, aimed for the young adult age group. Having read this book, I understand where people are coming from, banning the book for sex, drugs, alcohol, and bringing up the topic of suicide. But mostly, this book was banned for being unsuited for its age group. For one, the age group this is directed towards is high school students, who have already gone through sex-ed and the drugs and alcohol talk. All the topics in this book, aren’t things that a high schooler hasn’t experienced in either other books or movies, or even real life. Saying that a book containing drugs, sex, and suicide is unsuited for high school students is like saying that they think high school is filled with rainbows and sunshine and chastity and sobriety, which even though that would be great, is very far from the truth.

And last by not least…

The Merriam Webster Dictionary

This was banned in 2010 for contain the definition of oral sex. Ok really? It’s a dictionary for goodness sake! The definition in the dictionary is far better than the one a kid is going to learn from his friends or even Google for that matter.

So what do you think? Should books be banned in schools? If so, which ones should and who had the authority to say what is appropriate for children and what isn’t?


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