Saturday, September 24, 2011

Admit It. You Banned it Because of the Big Words.

"The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame." -Oscar Wilde

"Don't join the book burners. Do not think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed." -Eisenhower

YAY BANNED BOOK WEEK! Hoozah! Let's run wild, let's do shots, let' I usually don't really commemorate BBW because I read whatevs the hell I want and I dare you to stop me BUT. I've noticed an upswing in the book-banning jank happening around the world- either people are going crazy, or the five people who are crazy are getting more press. Either way, let's put a stop to the madness. I thought a good way to do that would be to outline some of the stupider book bannings that have happened, in a (not so) thinly veiled attempt at pointing out how book banning in general is. Well. Bullshit.

American Heritage Dictionary. This was banned in 1978 by a library in Missouri (SHOCK ME SHOCK ME WITH THAT DEVIANT BEHAVIOR- read about Missouri's recent book banning silliness here). The reasons? It has naughty words in it, including "balls."

Fahrenheit 451. Banned in 1998 by a school board in Mississippi because of the word "god damn." Obviously, the parent who complained did not catch the irony. He was too busy being a dumb ass.

The Great Gatsby. Banned in 1987 by the Baptist College in South Carolina because it contains cursing and sexual references. That's right, folks. College students (adults) are not to read about things said and done by other adults to and/or with other consenting adults.

To Kill a Mockingbird. This book told from a small girl's point of view has been banned or challenged in New York, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, and other states, in every decade since publication. My favorite is when Lindale, Texas, banned the book in 1996 (?!?!) because it "conflicts with the values of the community." With which values does this book conflict, I wonder? Hating people of other colors? Hating women and therefore small girls? Associating with lawyers?

Animal Farm. Challenged several times in several states because"Orwell was a communist." Um. This makes me wonder if the people challenging the books I would have thought this one would've made a great McCarthy-era propaganda tool. THE LOST OPPORTUNITIES, PEOPLE.

The Lord of the Rings. Burned (people still do this, apparently) in 2001 in New Mexico for being "satanic." Despite the fact that Tolkien was a professed Christian who helped convert C.S. Lewis, and that the books are an admitted examination of the Nazi invasion. This is like burning the Bible because it has naughty bits, all in Jesus' name. A Wrinkle in Time has also been banned because it contains "witchcraft," despite the book's obviously Christian message.

Brideshead Revisited. In 2005, an Alabama representative presented a bill that would ban the use of public funds for the purchasing of books with positively portrayed gay characters, or that promoted homosexuality as "an acceptable lifestyle," which include this book. Thankfully, the bill died, but egads. I guess this is based on the idea that you can "catch gay" from reading about people who are gay. You know, like how you can catch straight. Oh. Wait.

Alice in Wonderland. Ok, this isn't in America, but this one was banned in China in 1931 because it portrays animals that talk. And that? That insults humans. BAN IT, BIOTCH, less humanity's self esteem suffers!

Fanny Hill. Banned in 1963 for obscenity. I'm sorry, banning anything published in the 1700's for being obscene is just...silly. Oh no! A PETTICOAT! RUUUNNNNN!

Those are just some of my favorites. Obviously, the majority of book banners don't actually read what they're so worked about about getting rid of. Either that, or their sense of humor is FULL TILT.

(Commences with word vomit) As a Christian myself, it enrages me how much of these bans come from other Christians- as if our purpose here isn't to feed the hungry or fight oppression and injustice or be a light in a dark place, but is to monitor what everyone else puts on their bedside table. As if someone is going to say, "Gee, now that you've destroyed my freedoms by snatching away my copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover, I'm going to start coming to your church! MY SAVIOR!" GET a HOBBY. (End of word vomit)

*Calms down.* So, what's your favorite banned book, either because it was banned for ridiculous reasons, or just because you loved it?


  1. They burned Lord of the Rings?! Really?! This reminds me of 5th grade--the mother of one of my classmates was upset because the teacher had a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond on the shelf in the classroom. (One of my favorite books growing up, incidentally.) A book by a Sunday School teacher. Where the "witch" in question was a Quaker and therefore not a good person in the view of her Puritan neighbors. (They would have banned the book, too, I'm sure.) And if I remember correctly, the "witch" is the most Christian character in the book.

    Other than that, I've enjoyed or loved quite a few "banned" books, so I don't think I could pick a favorite. Shoot, it seems like just about every book I read growing up has been challenged by somebody. AND some of them, I even checked out of the church children's library. Needless to say, I don't hold with book banning, unless you want a surefire way to drive up sales...

  2. Lord Of The Rings? Seriously. And To Kill A Mockingbird? I guess I'm not the thoughtful reader I thought I was because I missed whatever was in them that was supposed to harm me. As a matter of fact I was awestruck at the wisdom of writers who could leave me wanting to be a better person. We need more of that, not less.

  3. My recent favorite is "And Tango Makes Three", which is the true story of two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who act like a mating pair and adopt an orphaned penguin chick. It's a picture book, and the usual reason given is because the content is "inappropriate for the intended age group". Mind you, the word gay never appears in the book, but surely it's trying to push the "gay" agenda. Not sure about the other gays, but my "gay" agenda is life, liberty, and the pursuit of a decent latte.

  4. LOVE your word vomit. I'm agnostic myself, but two of my best friends are Christian and they're all about the Jesus-was-a-radical-let's-stand-up-for-social-justice.

    I'm no longer surprised over any book that gets banned these days, frankly. And sadly.

  5. My favorite banned book is Gone With the Wind -- because I LOVED it. I've read it three times now with (surpisingly) no adverse effects! :-)

  6. Well, to be fair to Fanny Hill, it is pretty explicit in some instances (not that I'm FOR banning books or anything, but it IS much more than just petticoats being flashed). The Wikipedia entry has a pretty great excerpt from it:
    I think that's the most beautifully anyone has every written about a penis.

    We had to read it for an 18th century British Lit class I took, and let me tell you, it's pretty much a full-on pornographic novel. Most uncomfortable class discussions ever.

  7. I remember when the minister's wife went on a big rampage against The Witches by Roald Dahl.

    I love reading how some of these books were removed from luggage in the 60s, like they couldn't make it through customs. I can't imagine!!!

    I just read Ulysses, not realizing it was on the list.

    When I used to work in a library that had more public access, we saw people taking matters into their own hands. Anything Wiccan related would mysteriously disappear from the shelves. I thought it was teenagers, but I was told it was most likely people who were trying to save people and their wicked ways. *rolls eyes*

  8. I am always confused by the banning of Andersonville. This is a subject that is a documented part of history. It was only banned in TX, which I don't really understand because Andersonville itself was in GA.

    Daddy's Roommate is another one. It was deemed inappropriate, but some kids Daddy's do have roommates or partners, etc., so banning the book seems silly.

    My favorite is a book that I loved as a child, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. It was banned because it "portrayed it's characters as animals and presented the police as pigs." I imagine that this person has quite the beef with Disney.

  9. the diary of anne frank was banned. for reals. just recently. catch my thoughts tomorrow at

    cuz, you know, no one should read about a little jewish girl who dies in a concentration camp. God forbid!

    which, accidentally, didn't happen.

  10. Echoing Pammy pam's (may I call you that?) shout-out to The Diary of Anne Frank. I read it for the first time when I was eight or nine and it did scar me, but in the way the book was intended; not because Anne and Peter were having a teen romance.

  11. simplerpastimes- Oh, they ABSOLUTELY didn't read it. I think that's the case for most of the things here, especially Animal Farm and LOTR- they can't have read it. Right? RIGHT?

    Ordinary Reader- I think the TKAM harm was that you read about white people being decent to black people. Which is, you know, indecent. *headdesk*

    Heather- Hah, I love it. The "gay agenda." It's hard to believe there's a publishing "gay agenda" when those YA authors were recently asked to straighten out their gay characters or not get published.

    As the Crow Flies- I'm of the strong belief that most "Christians" who do this sort of thing don't actually read the Bible.

    Jillian- I read about that being banned because of the n-word...but we all still read Huck Finn in middle school, so I don't get it.

    Dooliterature- Ooooo, racey. *Off to find copy*

    Jenny- People used to go through the Wicca section of my local Barnes and Noble and turn the offensive titles around, or hide them in the bathroom. You know, the bathroom where kids went to hang out. Whoops!

    Jenn- Oddly enough, I know some parents who do have a thing with Disney because of the witches and magic and whatnot. I have a problem with it because it teaches girls to get married and wear dresses and have big boobs, but that's just me...

    Pammy Pam- WHAT?! *off to read post*

    Suzanne- God forbid we know what happened during the Holocaust...

  12. I wrote a comment but the internet ate it. Let me try again.

    I'm always baffled at the reasons why people ban books. I mean Animal Farm? I read that for class in grade 6. We were 12 and knew it was anti-communist. Duh! And yeah, Tolkien, what a satan worshipper. *sarcasm*

    My favorite is Fahrenheit 451 because the irony of it makes my head explode.

  13. Hah! I love the Alice in Wonderland excuse, I had to add it to my obligatory Banned Book Week post.

  14. You can "catch gay" from reading it, bahaha. People are ridiculous. I really struggle with the same thing you mentioned. I'm a Christian and it's embarrassing to have so many other people who claim to be Christians spearheading book banning campaigns. I hate that Christians often paint themselves into a corner of intolerance and distrust of the "secular" world and by doing so they alienate everyone around them.

  15. Hey there! Just a quick note to let you know I linked this post over at Kate's Library in my "Friday Five". Have a great weekend! (A little late as this post was a month ago - I was behind!)

  16. Those are some hilarious stories. From what I know, most books that have been banned in Australia (which aren't many) are mainly √°dult'(read erotica/porn) books and non-fiction. I think from memory Madam Bovary wasn't allowd to be imported in the 30's.