1. Annûniel
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    Annûniel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Banned Books

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Annûniel, Sep 11, 2010.

    Today I was sorting through the mail and noticed an tidbit on the cover about 50 books that have been banned from American schools and libraries in the AARP Bulletin. It wasn't so much as an article as a general list of banned books that might surprise you. My reaction wasn't so much of surprise but outrage at the list. It's long so I'll stick it in a spoiler tag.

    Too Political
    1. Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852
    2. All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque, 1928
    3. A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway, 1929
    4. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, 1939
    5. For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway, 1940
    6. Animal Farm, George Orwell, 1945
    7. 1984, George Orwell, 1949
    8. Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak, 1957
    9. Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., 1969
    10. In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, Peter Matthiessen, 1983

    Too Much Sex
    1. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert, 1856
    2. Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy, 1891
    3. Ulysses, James Joyce, 1922
    4. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway, 1926
    5. Lady Chatterley's Lover, D.H. Lawrence, 1928
    6. Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller, 1934
    7. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, 1955
    8. Peyton Place, Grace Metalious, 1956
    9. Rabbit, Run, John Updike, 1960
    10. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou, 1969
    11. Jaws, Peter Benchley, 1974
    12. Forever, Judy Blume, 1975
    13. The Prince of Tides, Pat Conroy, 1986
    14. Beloved, Toni Morrison, 1987
    15. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Julia Alvarez, 1991

    Irreligious
    1. On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin, 1859
    2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkien, 1954
    3. The Last Temptation of Christ, Nikos Kazantzakis, 1960
    4. Bless Me, Ultima, Rudolfo Anya, 1972
    5. Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, 1997-2007

    Socially Offensive
    1. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin, 1791
    2. The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850
    3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, 1884
    4. As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner, 1930
    5. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, 1932
    6. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell, 1936
    7. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, 1937
    8. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank, 1947
    9. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger, 1951
    10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, 1953
    11. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, 1960
    12. James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl, 1961
    13. Catch-22, Joseph Heller, 1961
    14. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess, 1962
    15. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey, 1962
    16. In Cold Blood, Truman Capote, 1966
    17. Cujo, Stephen King, 1981
    18. The Color Purple, Alice Walker, 1982
    19. Ordinary People, Judith Guest, 1982
    20. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley, 1991

    The act of book banning has outraged me since I first learned of its practice. As much as I would like to understand that certain books aren't suitable for children, I am wholeheartedly against the concept of banning books. Period. Once that door is opened, it leads to banning books that shouldn't be banned at all. Honestly, I studied a good portion of these books in school! And I went to public school in the US.

    What do you think? Are library associations correct in limiting their stock of books at public libraries? Should schools not teach certain books because they are "too political" or "socially offensive?"
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do think school libraries should be edited however most of the books on that list it is ridiculous they are there. Some can only be racist in the choices as well.

    As much as I would love to burn Catcher in the Rye I was forced to read it in high school English I am not sure what makes it socially offensive its just miserable. All of them were available in my school library some did however come in a special schools version.
     
  3. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some of those titles caught me off guard. I had no idea the Lord of the Rings had been banned at some point. I mean I wouldn't suggest kids reading some of these books but... for public libraries they should have easily been available for adults or older teens.

    Personally I think I would be rather flattered if a group of people attempted to get my book banned.

    Oh this reminds me! There was a South Park episode not to long ago where they read a book for class that was on the banned list(believe it was Cather in the Rye) and they couldn't understand what was so offensive about it.

    Hmm I hate the idea of book banning. Restrictions regarding age maybe... but out right banning? Sorta reminds me of a book I read(well mostly read I skimmed a bit)

    Oh hey its on the list!
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That looks like a list of great works of literature. I'd be proud if a book I wrote was on that list!
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Most of those books are classics because they have something important to say. Banning them is just plain stupid and ignorant. However, banning a work of art is a good way of getting publicity.
     
  6. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't agree with banning books. Sure, edit the book stock in school libraries, that's reasonable. But from what I know of most of those books on that list, I think we need to have these books that are challenging and somewhat outrageous. Otherwise it's like we're being protected from what isn't supposedly right, yet in reality it's just how the world is, or has been.
     
  7. Zombie_Chinchilla
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    Zombie_Chinchilla Member

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    While I hate banning books and think all books deserve to be loved, I understand why some middle/high schools would ban books with too much sex. Teenagers are idiots, and would just giggle over it.

    Other than that, I don't think any of those books deserve to be banned.
     
  8. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    Er, what on earth is socially offensive about Anne Frank's diary?

    I question the intellect of anyone who had involvement in compiling this list. It's contemptible. I had to laugh though, when I saw Harry Potter under 'Irreligious'.

    This whole method of banning is completely outdated in any case in the age of the internet. We know any curious teenager (or child) can pretty easily access almost anything on the internet if they are determined enough.

    I heard not long ago that the Merriam Webster Dictionary was banned in Californian schools because parents complained regarding the inclusion of 'oral sex'. They thought the explanation was too graphic even though it just said 'oral stimulation of the genitals'. It's so silly. This was for kids aged 10 and over. So what if a kid of this age knows what oral sex is? I'm sure I had a vague idea of what it was aged 10/11. Well, if the kids weren't interested in looking up oral sex in the dictionary before, they sure will be after that debacle!
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    So true. So very, very true.

    Banning books makes me want to hit. And I don't hit.
     
  10. jacklondonsghost
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    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

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    Ordinary People? Anne Frank's diary? James and the Giant Peach?

    Bizarre to think people found those "socially offensive."
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Banning books in school libraries is a great service. It guarantees that students will seek out those books and read them carefully.
     
  12. Mantha Hendrix
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    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

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    That's a pretty good point, especially when you consider how many good books are on that list.
     
  13. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or make them part of the curriculum - I have actually read all the books on the list. However certainly with Tess of the D'ubervilles and Catcher in the Rye they were only finished because I had to for school.

    Without school not sure I would have the same love of Shakespeare, Burns, Grassic Gibbon etc however I am managing to infect my children with it. I am actually very surprised given how filthy and socially inappropriate not to mention pagan with his work that Shakespeare isn't on the list in fact on all the sub lists.

    Having said that this side of the Atlantic Enid Blyton has been seriously tweaked and so has Rev Awdry (changes are made so that Thomas doesn't act as racist towards the trucks anymore:)) I also know I got into terrible trouble for teaching my daughter the traditional fairy tales when she went into nursery and retold three little pigs complete with bone crunching and wolf soup. Didn't help I was unapologetic and also taught her the original Little Mermaid.
     
  14. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I think that the entire argument of "We need to ban or edit certain books to 'protect' children" is idiotic.

    First of all, kids aren't babies who need to read about rainbows and bunnies until they're teenagers. I read stuff like 1984, The Handmaid's Tale, etc as a kid and I turned out fine.

    Second of all, let's just say that a kid IS uncomfortable by something that they read, or they can't handle it. Guess what? The kid will put the book down themselves!!!

    No kid I've ever heard of has been psychologically damaged for reading a book that's "too mature" for them.

    I *DO* feel that it's damaging to kids when parents try to keep them in a padded bubble and try to keep their ignorant innocence intact until adulthood. It's part of growing up, people.
     
  15. Annûniel
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    Annûniel Contributing Member Contributor

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    True enough. Though the child will have to realize that the books have been banned in order to really want to get their hands on it. I suppose that's easier now that they spend so much time online. :p

    I guess this is just one of those topics that really hits a soft spot. After all, the best way to control the masses is to keep them ignorant. Book banning is a great way to keep the general population ignorant....
     
  16. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know some people would think what you said is controversial but I completely agree.

    I think that children who seek out so-called questionable or 'scary' material are actually ready to be challenged. I agree there's a matter of age here but I think most children over the age of 10 are psychologically developed enough to start to seek out material that helps them learn about how the world works.

    In my group of friends, when we were 11/12 there were those of us who sought out literature and film that were not strictly meant for us. For example, I was allowed to watch The Shining when I was this age and was scared stiff but in a really fun way. I read books my parents left lying around and watched late night tv. I remember my friends thought my parents were extremely permissive but it never did me any harm.

    Ironically, it was the inexperienced and cosseted girls in my circle of friends who got into trouble once they got their hands on alcohol a few years later. I really don't know why it happens like that but I've witnessed it time and time again. It's like they haven't been able to learn a bit about the world before they're unleashed into it.
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not really. Word definitely gets around regarding what books are on a school's ban list. When I was in school, in pre-Internet days, the banned books were a must-read for anyone who was at all cool.

    Back in the day, a guaranteed way to boost ticket sales on a movie or play was for it to get the tag "Banned in Boston."
     
  18. Ice Princess
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    Ice Princess Member

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    How on earth can you ban Harry Potter because it's not religious? I can name plenty of books that aren't religious and are not on that list. It's ridiculous.
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's banned in many districts because magic and witchcraft are considered works of the Devil.

    I'm not defending that view, just reporting it.
     
  20. Ice Princess
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    Ice Princess Member

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    Oh cool. I didn't know that. I guess you learn something new every day.
     
  21. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well i hope all the kids seek out, 1984.

    Anything that is banned, young people will always go out of there way for. So it's not all bad. I remember spending a year looking though Jason's black book [not the actual name, but something like that. It was very easy to access] (was on the net - tought you have to make explosives, weapons, drugs and everything of the likes which was viewable for everyone before it got noticed and people realised the internet was going to work on a much large scale). Never used the knowledge. I just wanted to know.

    I'd prefer books banned over being edited any day. Editing stuff is extreme BS in my opinion.
     
  22. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    ... and now that you have mentioned it, let me tell you a little story about a month-long hunt/trek/walkabout I went on in search of an un-redacted copy of David Gerrold's A Matter for Men.

    I bought this book many years ago, read it, and thoroughly enjoyed it and the three books that followed it in the series.

    Time passed.

    I now eBook most things because hard copies of anything decent are hard to find where I live. I remember this title and go on a hunt for it. I find! Hooray! I start to read it. Something is amiss. It doesn't seem to be the same book. There are parts missing.

    I research. I learn. I become enraged.

    Come to find out, the copy I got a hold of was not the edition I remember reading so long ago, but instead the very original version of the book which first saw print in 1984 (ominous date looms). It seems the original publisher, which will go unnamed - cough! cough timescapebooks cough! cough! - objected to some material in Gerrold's book and did the old slice and dice.

    The removed material was of an LGBT nature, which truly set my nerves in acid. I was not happy about that on a very personal level.

    Fast-forward to today. A few years later, A Matter for Men was picked up by Bantam Books (angelic music in the background) and republished with the redacted material intact. I found a nice lady in Anchorage willing to sell her hardcopy on eBay.

    Long story short: Old School publisher - cough! cough! bastards! cough! - makes little fellah in Puerto Rico unhappy, but the day is saved by progressive new publisher, the internet, and a little old lady in Anchorage, Alaska.

    The End.

    :D
     
  23. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    It never seemed to harm Shakespeare that much to be edited:) Also sometimes the editing simply makes it more accessible for children and easier to read. I was introduced to a lot of literature by the schools versions of books - I could never have written the full versions of things like Jane Eyre at 6 or 7.
     
  24. jacklondonsghost
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    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

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    I think that kind of editing is much different from simply removing parts that are considered "offensive" and then marketing to the general public.

    I also owned an extensive collection of abridged classic books when I was young and certainly see the value in those. They got me addicted to reading.
     
  25. Dante Dases
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    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've always been one to get annoyed when a book is banned, especially when it's for political reasons. Oh, so someone doesn't agree with 1984? Well done for them, now how about allowing other people to read it to allow them to form their own opinion rather than using their own power to stop them?

    I can understand schools banning books (or at least not stocking them in the school library) because they have explicit sexual content or something like that, especially if those books are likely to be picked up by younger children. At my old secondary school there was a separate shelf only for years 10 and 11 (ages 14+), which generally had the more explicit material, and younger students were banned from reading it (unless you were like my group of friends, who habitually sneaked a copy of one of those books out of the library to giggle over in the yard - we weren't very mature, it has to be said).

    But in larger society I loathe the idea of trying to ban books for their ideas. If I want to I can walk into Waterstones and pick up a copy of Mein Kampf. I have read the likes of The Republic, The Communist Manifesto, The Prince, etc, and if an educational institution tried to ban me from reading those I would feel like I was being forced into a political and religious straitjacket. Schools should encourage reading other ideas as part of a broader education and not simply force a student into one way of thinking, whether it's a political standpoint or a religious one.
     

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