Friday, April 13, 2007

Censorship can suck it.

This really pisses me off. Do you know how hard it is to get teenagers to like to read? Next we'll be banning I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, The Color Purple and any other book that might suggest to children that all is not perfect and wonderful in this world.

It reminds me of the time I taught my class yoga and meditation as we studied Siddhartha. I'd done this for three years and every kid loved it until I had one parent complain. The principal ordered me to "stop teaching religion" in the classroom. The week after he gave me this order, a Church group handed out Bibles to the kids at lunch with his blessing.

I'm going to put my fist through a wall now. Please, if you're a parent, do a little research and think a minute before you complain. And if you're an administrator, get a damn backbone.


  1. Anonymous4:42 PM

    I know what you mean. I've read at least 15 of the American Library Association's list of the 100 most frequently banned or challenged books. I might have read others, but I'd have to skim them to be sure. I've read hundreds, of books, so I might have forgotten the titles of some of them. OTOH, the school should probably require signed consent forms from the parents and let them know about the content beforehand.

  2. I don't think censorship ever did anything but promote what was trying to be censored.

    Those kids are always going to remember that that book was seemingly so *whatever* that it was banned. That's a compelling reason to read it.

    Telling people what they can't do never works. Prohibition anyone?

    I think our country (in particular) is seeing the slow degradation of religion-based morality, and in the future, morality will be more determined by logical and democratic means.

  3. I would also like to add that the book does seem terribly inappropriate for 8th graders.

    My little sister will be in 8th grade next year and I cringe at the thought that her teacher would have them read a book that details child prostitution and rape.

    Maybe that's appropriate for high school, 11th or 12th grade, but not 13 year olds, IMHO.

    Whatever happened to good old fashioned kid on kid violence a la Lord of the Flies?

  4. So prostitution is too "grown up" for kids but genocide isn't? I believe the Diary of Anne Frank is introduced in 7th or 8th grade.

    Hate to say it, but many of those kids have probably already experienced sex in one form or another, and most likely from a relative or friend.

    We're dumbing down our kids. Teenagers are some of the most intelligent people I know. They can handle more than we think, and already do. Open your eyes!

    GREAT post, Emily. Rock on.

  5. Anonymous10:38 PM

    Weirds me out. A friend of mine will take his kids to see any R rated film so long as the content making it R rated is violence. If the sexual nature of a film causes it to be R rated, he won't let his kids anywhere near it. Sadly, this seems to be a common mindset.

  6. Anonymous9:27 AM

    I don't live in a bubble, but I lean more toward holding off certain books until the kids are older as well; even if only because SOME of them might not be ready to handle it.

    Waiting a few more years to read a book isn't going to hurt a kid, and no one is stopping them from finding it on their own if they like. On the other hand, a younger kid is more likely to be in that mixed up and growing stage, where it could cause problems.

    Slightly off topic, but related is the fact that so many people depend on the school system to raise their kids for them. If parents were more involved in their kids' lives, a lot of things would be less threatening. **Not intending to make a broad sweeping statement about all parents here**

  7. I am a mother of four children (ages 6-14). I am against banning books, but I am in favor of selecting books that are age appropriate. It isn't about keeping good books out of the hands of children. It is about giving it to them at the right time (age).

    Okay, that's my two cents.

  8. It's a valid complaint about the age group appropriateness. But the things in this novel happened to the author at an age much younger than 13, and many kids younger than 13 have to deal with this stuff all the time in their real lives.

    I think most people would be surprised at what material kids could handle if they spent time in the classroom. Most kids are much more mature than we think.

    My biggest problem here is that the superintendent reacted to one complaint from one parent with no dicussion at all about the issue. That happens way too much in American schools.

  9. Watching all the fireworks from outside the US, I have to say I get puzzled as to the strange distinction made between censorship of sexual content versus censorship (or lack thereof) of violent content.

    There seems to be a wave of "new puritanism" sweeping across the US, much akin to the bizarre posturings we had here during Queen Bloody Victoria’s reign, where even piano legs had to be covered, lest they inflame animal passions. It’s resulting in more and more people trying to “out-holy” each other, all scrabbling for an unattainable moral ground.

    Regarding the ‘free bible fest’, I’ve always been staggered that anyone has any right whatsoever to peddle mumbo-jumbo (ie. religion) to children of any age. Some children are more mature than others, but as long as they are widely-read and have the opportunity (and are encouraged) to form their own opinions, based on evidence, they will undoubtedly be much more rounded as people and go on to become adults whom people respect and admire.

    Handing out bibles? They should be burnt at the stake... ;-)


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