Peder D4

Discussion of politics and other odious things

Monday, September 03, 2007

Banned books

Just ran across this post about banned books over at Andrew Sullivan's digs, bewailing the 'banning and challenging' of books. It points us over to this release here with the ten most challenged books of 2006:

The "10 Most Challenged Books of 2006" reflect a range of themes, and consist of the following titles:

  • "And Tango Makes Three" by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, for homosexuality, anti-family, and unsuited to age group;

  • "Gossip Girls" series by Cecily Von Ziegesar for homosexuality, sexual content, drugs, unsuited to age group, and offensive language;

  • "Alice" series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor for sexual content and offensive language;

  • "The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things" by Carolyn Mackler for sexual content, anti-family, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;

  • "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison for sexual content, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;

  • "Scary Stories" series by Alvin Schwartz for occult/Satanism, unsuited to age group, violence, and insensitivity;

  • "Athletic Shorts" by Chris Crutcher for homosexuality and offensive language.

  • "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky for homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, and unsuited to age group

  • "Beloved" by Toni Morrison for offensive language, sexual content, and unsuited to age group;

  • "The Chocolate War" by Robert Cormier for sexual content, offensive language, and violence.

Now, what do these books have in common? They are almost all being challenged as 'unsuited to age group'. In common English I think that means that parents are asking schools to keep them away from kids because they're not age appropriate. They simply don't want their kids to read about homosexuality and drug use (etc.) until they're older.
I'm probably more open minded about when kids can handle mature themes than most so I'd probably disagree with the parents here but I can understand where they're coming from. The desire to have some control over when your children must understand advanced themes is normal and rational.
Two things come to mind here. The first is that the poster is being hysterical (I know, big surprise from that site). He opens the post with a quote:
Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings -- Heinrich Heine (1821)

Keep in mind that any adult can read any of these books without the slightest problem. I could order this whole set on Amazon and no one would care at all. We might be a ways away from burning people.
The second thing that I wonder about is where all of the people that were up in arms over Joe Camel are? Shouldn't they be defending parents in these situations? If a cartoon character playing pool will take over a child's life, won't a full length book have an even more profound effect? Or vice versa, where are the book banning handwringers when it comes to blocking ads on children's shows because they show food that's too sweet?
'Where they have burned sweetened cereal, they will end up in burning farmers'...or something like that.


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