Banned Books Week: Think for Yourself, Let Others Do the Same

1 09 2010

Thinking Parents know how enthusiastically we celebrate Banned Books Week here at Snook, every September. Last year’s theme was “Ideas Are Incombustible” and imo still fits the social inferno some folks are stoking with spittle-soaked frenzy.

This year’s official theme features a robot unplugging his head from the Borg download, happily reading a real book instead. (No technology required, not even a Kindle.)

You can tell the robot is happy from its glowing eyes and smile of satisfaction. If you follow the sequence of robot art through the whole list of books known to have been challenged during the past year, you can see the free-to-read robot’s power of story play out — thinking for yourself and letting others do the same turns into real liberty (and eyes aglow from books) for all.

Who could be against that? Well, this parent for one:

Lee, Harper
To Kill a Mockingbird

Removed from the St. Edmund Campion Secondary
School classrooms in Brampton, Ontario, Canada
(2009) because a parent objected to language used
in the novel, including the word “nigger.”
Source: Nov2009, pp. 203–4.

And this guy — who sounds like he should cut way back on the caffeine and might keep deadly firearms at home but perversely fixates on the threat of library books in his child’s backpack instead. We loved this book when FavD was a kid, read it aloud together and then went on to read several more ZKS)

Snyder, Zilpha Keatley
The Egypt Game
Dell; Macmillan
Challenged as part of a reading list in a fourth-grade
class at Southern Hills Elementary School in Wichita
Falls, Tex. (2009) because the book includes scenes
depicting Egyptian worship rituals. The Newberry
Award-winning book has been an optional part of the
school district’s curriculum for years.

“I’m not going to stop until it’s banned from the school district. I will not quiet down. I will not back down. I don’t believe any student should be subjected to anything that has to do with evil gods or black magic,” said the student’s father.
Source: Jan2010, p. 17.

Trying to ban To Kill a Mockingbird is itself OBSCENE, of course, and also politically incorrect, far more so than the way the author uses language as power of story, including the n-word.

Trying to restrict or ban or purge “anything that has to do with evil gods” would empty most libraries of both fiction and nonfiction, including Christian books from bibles to the Left Behind series, all sorts of poetry, polemics and sermon collections. Music and film collections wouldn’t take up much space there anymore, either. 😉

(And don’t even get me started on Sarah Palin and her witch-hunting pentecostal preacher laying hands on her to invoke some evil god’s power to make HER president! There go all the newspapers too.)

But the one on the new list that really annoyed me was this parent’s rah-rah-America rationale for anti-American book banning: TeaParty economics.

Talk about evil gods . . .

Ehrenreich, Barbara
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America

Challenged at the Easton, Penn. School District
(2010), but retained despite a parent’s claim the
book promotes “economic fallacies” and socialist
ideas, as well as advocating the use of illegal drugs
and belittling Christians.
Source: May 2010, p. 107.

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15 responses

2 09 2010
JJ

“Bad news, religious people”.
Taking bets now, as to whether this book will be next:

LONDON — Physicist Stephen Hawking says God wasn’t necessary for the creation of the universe.

In his new book, “The Grand Design,” the British scientist says unraveling a complex series of theories will explain the universe. The book, written with American physicist and author Leonard Mlodinow, will be published Sept. 9.

In an extract published Thursday in The Times, Hawking wrote that it was “not necessary to invoke God.”

“The Universe can and will create itself from nothing,” Hawking wrote. “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist.”

5 09 2010
JJ

Speaking of religious people, it’s not just book-banning in the news but book-BURNING, resurrecting Savonarola’s historic bonfires. Pyres of piety.

(I read about Savonarola in a children’s book some today would ban or burn, by an award-winning author who lives in our book-burning state:
“In Konigsburg’s novel T-Backs, T-Shirts, COAT, and Suit, Chloe spends the summer in Florida with her stepfather’s sister, who runs a meals-on-wheels van and becomes involved in a controversy over T-back swimming suits.” )

GAINESVILLE – If building an Islamic center near ground zero amounts to the epitome of Muslim insensitivity, as critics of the project have claimed, what should the world make of Terry Jones, the evangelical pastor here who plans to memorialize the Sept. 11 attacks with a bonfire of Qurans?

Terry Jones, an evangelical pastor, in front of shooting targets at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville. His plan to burn Qurans is drawing support and criticism. . . .
Jones, 58, a former hotel manager with a red face and a white handlebar mustache, argues that as an American Christian he has a right to burn Islam’s sacred book because “it’s full of lies.”

Muslim leaders in several countries, including Egypt and Indonesia, have formally condemned him and his church, the Dove World Outreach Center.
An Islamic group in England has also incorporated his efforts into a YouTube video that encourages Muslims to “rise up and act,” widening a concern that Jones — though clearly a fringe figure with only 50 members in his church — could spark riots or terrorism. . .

Asked about his knowledge of the Quran, he said plainly: “I have no experience with it whatsoever. I only know what the Bible says.”

Nonetheless, his position and variations on his tactics have become more common, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Florida in particular has had a rise in anti-Islamic activity.

Savonarola and Jones have a lot in common. Maybe Jones will end up as Savonarola did, burning in his own hellfire.

His oratory had become impassioned and shrill, his rhetoric scathing, and his message apocalyptic.
. . . He had visions, he said, and what he saw was the coming of The Last Days. He had spoken directly to God and what God had told him was that the people of Florence were in imminent danger of Hell and that only a vigorous morality could save them, and he was increasingly believed.

. . .From the outset Savonarola made it clear that Florence would be a Christian Republic. God was the law and Savonarola his mouthpiece. The people were to be virtuous and moral for that was their only way to salvation. All vice and revelry was now to cease, all nocturnal activities were suppressed, gambling, music, dance and theatre were all banned. Homosexuality, and in particular the act of sodomy, previously tolerated, was now to be punishable by death. Hundreds fled the city, many hundreds more were burned at the stake for acting in defiance of God’s Will.

. . .Young boys and girls (supported by more menacing types) were sent to every house in the city to remove those items that led to lax morality: dice, playing cards, musical instruments, mirrors, cosmetics, fine clothes and heretical literature were all removed and taken to the Piazza della Signoria in the centre of the city, and burned in pyres 60ft high.

10 09 2010
JJ

Good advice for book banners and burners everywhere: read the supposedly damned thing first!

Here’s a quick test of your knowledge of scripture. Where does the following passage come from?

“Behold! The angels said: “O Mary! God hath chosen thee and purified thee – chosen thee above the women of all nations.”

Let’s try another, with more modern language:

“Behold, the angels said, “O Mary, God announces good news to you by a Word from God named the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, honored in this world and the hereafter.”

The first from the King James Version of the Bible and the second from the Revised Standard?

No on both accounts.

11 09 2010
More Than Muslims, Remember Real Threat Today « Cocking A Snook!

[…] first book I loved enough to make me hate those who would burn it or ban it, was a bible as worth living by and dying for as any other, by god, the SOUTHERN bible — Gone […]

20 09 2010
JJ

The next Zilpha Keatley Synder book we read after “The Egypt Game” was “The Gypsy Game.” I wonder if it will be censored now too, because ethnocentric prejudice against gypsies or Roma (immigrants from Roma-nia) never ended in at least one western democracy (besides our own Hispanic and Arab anti-immigrant backlashing, I mean.)

In August, the French government began publicizing the destruction of illegal Roma camps and the ensuing deportations.

BRUSSELS — A meeting of European Union leaders that was intended to help promote Europe’s role on the global stage, instead descended on Thursday into open discord over the expulsion of thousands of Roma from France.

After heated exchanges, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France vowed to keep dismantling illegal immigrant camps and rejected complaints that the French authorities were racist and deliberately targeted the Roma for deportation.

The disagreement underlines how migration within the 27 nations of the European Union has become a combustible issue in the wake of the European economic crisis. The union’s latest expansion, which brought in the relatively poor and underdeveloped nations of Romania and Bulgaria in 2007, has renewed concern about immigration and integration, particularly during an economic downturn that has spurred many to migrate in search of work.

(If your kids are too young for Victor Hugo’s actual books and plays which were censored for politics too, think Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame movie, remember how the gypsies were hounded and hunted, their homes and families raided? God help the outcasts — and immigrants.)

27 09 2010
JJ

Goodreads dot com group discussing banned and challenged books here, currently reading

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
by Jacqueline Kelly
Why we’re reading this:
Challenged because it contains drinking.

Flowers for Algernon
by Daniel Keyes
Why we’re reading this:
Banned as obscene for its love scenes.

(Cock of the snook to Valerie.)

27 09 2010
JJ

What are books good for? by William Germano

“. . . We are the case for books. Our bodies hold the capacity to generate thousands of ideas, perhaps even a couple of full-length monographs, and maybe a trade book or two. If we can get them right, books are luminous versions of our ideas, bound by narrative structure so that others can encounter those better, smarter versions of us on the page or screen.

Books make the case for us, for the identity of the individual as an embodiment of thinking in the world. The heart of what even scholars do is the endless task of making that world visible again and again by telling stories, complicated, nuanced, subtle stories that reshape us daily so that new forms of knowledge can shine out.”

27 09 2010
JJ

Stephen Colbert just now:
“It’s Banned Books Week. Why not sit down and redact a story with your child?”

27 09 2010
JJ

BBC Magazine quoting Cheryl Marcum in Stockton MO, who lost a censorship battle defending a book that upset many parents, Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian:

“We believe parents have every right and responsibility to monitor what their children read. But they don’t have the right to prevent other children from reading books, particularly national award-winning books.”

23 09 2011
Judy Blume: “Children are the real losers . . .” « Cocking A Snook!

[…] time for the 2006 celebration, which was the silver anniversary. Last year’s posts are here: Think for Yourself and Let Others Do the Same and If I Had a Robot, Would I Hammer in the […]

23 09 2011
bpbproadrunner

How are we supposed to discuss prejudice and discrimination, if we do not keep these memories, and thoughts and imaginings in their original form.

Ugly can be an art form too. It can become scale models of dystopias no one wants to live in.

23 09 2011
bpbproadrunner

Nickel and Dimed was challenged?

Wow that does beat all!

I have that book. I met her at a lecture. It’s a great book that examines how this consumer culture dehumanizes minimum wage-slaves, while always seeking lower and lower prices for more more more.

23 09 2011
JJ

Perfect — that can be your banned book to thumb through this week! 😉

23 09 2011
bpbproadrunner

It does seem sort of apropos during this time of Religio-Political targeting of the working poor and middle class.

16 09 2012
JJ

From the 2012 Banned Books Week ALA list::

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Challenged in Eden Valley, MN (1977) and temporarily banned due to words “damn” and “whore lady” used in the novel. Challenged in the Vernon Verona Sherill, NY School District (1980) as a “filthy, trashy novel.” Challenged at the Warren, IN Township schools (1981) because the book does “psychological damage to the positive integration process” and “represents institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature.” After unsuccessfully trying to ban Lee’s novel, three black parents resigned from the township human relations advisory council. Challenged in the Waukegan, IL School District (1984) because the novel uses the word “nigger.” Challenged in the Kansas City, MO junior high schools (1985). Challenged at the Park Hill, MO Junior High School (1985) because the novel “contains profanity and racial slurs.” Retained on a supplemental eighth grade reading list in the Casa Grande, AZ Elementary School District (1985), despite the protests by black parents and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People who charged the book was unfit for junior high use. Challenged at the Santa Cruz, CA Schools (1995) because of its racial themes. Removed from the Southwood High School Library in Caddo Parish, LA (1995) because the book’s language and content were objectionable. Challenged at the Moss Point, MS School District (1996) because the novel contains a racial epithet. Banned from the Lindale, TX advanced placement English reading list (1996) because the book “conflicted with the values of the community.” Challenged by a Glynn County, GA (2001) School Board member because of profanity. The novel was retained. Returned to the freshman reading list at Muskogee, OK High School (2001) despite complaints over the years from black students and parents about racial slurs in the text. Challenged in the Normal, IL Community High School’s sophomore literature class (2003) as being degrading to African Americans. Challenged at the Stanford Middle School in Durham, NC (2004) because the 1961 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel uses the word “nigger.” Challenged at the Brentwood, TN Middle School (2006) because the book contains “profanity” and “contains adult themes such as sexual intercourse, rape, and incest.” The complainants also contend that the book’s use of racial slurs promotes “racial hatred, racial division, racial separation, and promotes white supremacy.” Retained in the English curriculum by the Cherry Hill, NJ Board of Education (2007). A resident had objected to the novel’s depiction of how blacks are treated by members of a racist white community in an Alabama town during the Depression. The resident feared the book would upset black children reading it. Removed (2009) from the St. Edmund Campion Secondary School classrooms in Brampton Ontario, Canada because a parent objected to language used in the novel, including the word “nigger.”

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