Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Random banned books

I disagree with the practice in some places of banning books, which I view as a generally stupid and anti-educational practice (there would be certain exceptions of course, borderline pornographic romance novels would be one example I could think of, but even then…). Thankfully, there are groups that seem to want to fight back against this sort of thing, which is something I highly approve of and should be clearly encouraged. Something that does peak my interest is some of the weird choices in books people have campaigned to ban are. Some of them have at least some reasonably logical basis, such as having considerably racist language as they were written during periods when social inequality was the norm such as Huckleberry Finn. This doesn’t mean I agree with doing so however, as these books in context can be perfectly useful in an educational context. Consider banning the study of the Holocaust in WW2 or the American Civil Rights movement because students might be exposed to anti-semitic or racist ideas during the course of studying the events.

Some of the choices include:

Handford, Martin, Where’s Waldo, 1988 for having a picture of a woman who is lying topless on the beach. Now, I’m probably going to guess that there isn’t actually any breast involved here and that’s she’s probably face down (I’m not certain) and if that’s the case, it’s truly a weird thing to ban the book for.

Lewis, C S, The lion, the witch and the wardrobe for being overly violent and filled with people getting killed. Now, I’ll grant you that in my old age I can’t stomach this book as it literally beats you over the head with poorly disguised Christian allegory and morality (and in my opinion, horrifically mangles the message as well with a terrible deus ex machina plot twist), but when I read it at the age of 9 or so, I thought it was great. Apparently the book got banned as it doesn’t ascribe to “Good Christian values”*, which could be argued as the books are fairly bloody but then again you’d have to wonder if they had read the bible while making this complaint? I think that’s fairly ridiculous and whatever I may think of the book now, it’s good reading for children and at least can encourage them to start reading, itself fairly difficult.

Paterson, Katherine, Bridge to Terabithia, 1977 gets banned for having concepts like secular humanism and similar values. I imagine, though TVNZs article doesn’t list them, that you’d also find the “His Dark Materials” trilogy of books (which include the Golden Compass, recently made into a movie) in there as well for similar reasons. Again though, there are some weird reasons for banning the book, like “death being a part of the plot”, which just makes me scratch my head as to why that is so objectionable considering many of the best stories, myths and such involve death in some way (Frankenstein, the Hunchback of Notre Dame and the Lord of the Rings to name a few of my favorites).

Seuss, Dr, The Lorax, 1971 generates a series WTF from me. The book was banned for being political commentary on the state of the logging industry?!? Shall we ban the Butter Battle Book as potential political commentary on the war in Iraq? The Cat in the Hat for encouraging socially unacceptable behavior with household pets? This is just stupidity.

Frank, Anne, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, is apparently banned because it’s depressing in one case and has sexually explicit passages in another. I recall, back in the days of 3rd form English being forced to read through this book and thinking that it should have been studied in a better context in history, because as a novel it’s really not that engaging (not regarding that the history and situation they found themselves in is incredibly tragic, of which the diary Anne kept provides important insight into what it was like to be hiding from the gestapo, but it’s not a good book on its own). But again, I can’t fathom why someone would ban a book simply because it lacks the standard Hollywood happy ending that people seem to love and the sexually explicit passages, from what I remember are particularly tame (but natural for someone in that situation with only one young fellow around her).

The list of banned books is larger than this, I just picked these out as they either seemed particularly silly or the reasons for their banning were just ridiculous. Ideally books wouldn’t be banned and instead, in the case of examples like Huckleberry Finn, their historical context and reasons for the language they use should be explained- not just banned.

*Whatever this is supposed to mean anyway


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