Nasa / Space

Still reading banned books

Avid reader Edmond Woychowsky discusses 10 books that were banned or challenged in 2010 and 2011.

Banned Books Week 2011 is September 24-October 1. I experienced something of a time warp when I looked at the list of the top 10 challenged books in 2010 in the United States because the third title was required reading when I was in high school during the Pliocene:

While it has been quite a while since I read Brave New World, I couldn't think of anything that could offend anyone in that book. In fact, I had to ask around to get even a hint of something that someone could find offensive, and the best guess that was offered was birth control. So, I decided to take a look at some of the other books on the list.

  • And Tango Makes Three is a children's book; it's a true story about two male penguins that hatch a donated egg and raise the chick as their own.
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a semi-autobiographical tale of a poor, bright teenage boy growing up on a reservation who is frequently the target of bullies.
  • Crank is the story of a young woman who is addicted to crystal meth, or crank as it is called on the street.
  • The Hunger Games is set in a post-apocalyptic United States where children are used as gladiators on television for entertainment.
  • Lush is the story of a girl entering her teenage years in the shadow of her alcoholic father.
  • What My Mother Doesn't Know is about a teenage girl whose mother is totally oblivious to anything in the world beyond soap operas, including her daughter.
  • Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, written by the extremely talented Ms. Ehrenreich, is a work of non-fiction whose title is self-explanatory.
  • Revolutionary Voice is a collection of stories written by the young and those who lead an alternative lifestyle.
  • Twilight. If you haven't heard of this teenage vampire tale, allow me to congratulate you on returning from your deep space mission.

Those who feel they can decide what people are allowed to read, know, or think seem to live their lives with blinders on. They want a world where nothing outside of their narrow ideology is permitted. The topic of banned books brings up the same image in my mind again and again. In both instances, books are demonized by a group of people for not conforming to their world view. If the book banners are offended by the comparison, well, we are known by our deeds. Those who ban books should consider this: What will they do when their ideology doesn't fit into someone else's world view?

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144 comments
Leon Tribe
Leon Tribe

I have a vague memory of the society embracing underage sex and actively encouraging it. This would be my guess where the offence lies.

GSG
GSG

I don't agree with banning books, however, I agree with keeping books age-appropriate. For example, a local school had hearings about Diary of a Part Time Indian to see how the parents felt about it. I had some pretty frank language in it, but it has a message about bullying that makes it a book that they felt young people should get a chance to read. If the middle-schoolers want to read it, they have to bring a note from the parent that it's OK. That gets the parents involved and lets them decide if the child is old enough to handle the message. There are other books that the school libraries have opted not to carry, but they aren't banned as they are still available for purchase in the local bookstores, loan in the public library, etc....

nustada
nustada

"I couldnt think of anything that could offend anyone in that book. In fact, I had to ask around to get even a hint of something that someone could find offensive." I think pedophilia is offensive. I think mandatory psychotropic drug mandates are offensive. I think chemical lobotomies are offensive. I think forced communism is offensive. Not that it should be banned per se. But no reasonable person would allow X-rated movies to be shown during class, so why should worse than X-rated books be allowed in school. Brave New World is an important book. However most people mistakenly assume Aldous meant it as a dystopian type book. It is important in that many of the most powerful people in the world think of it as a model of how things should be. If you doubt, search for ALDOUS HUXLEY BERKELEY SPEECH UNEDITED, do research on his affiliations and consider that he committed suicide via drug overdose. Then look up the ingrediants of modern vaccines, popular culture for children, politicians moving to put pyschotropic drugs in the water supply and so on.

ScarF
ScarF

...is the older roman-catholic equivalent of the living fossil Civitates Consociatae Paranoidosaurus's banned books list - or, otherwise, the US legislators'. As someone living under the communists for 30 years, I had to permanently deal with this kind of thought control. Of course, due to their content, books like 1984 and Animal Farm were banned, someone caught reading them having to expect some ugly repercussions. The governments in the US? Although not communists but wild capitalists, I cannot but notice the same huge gap between the people and their government. Principles like Free Talk are very nice on paper but never applied in the real life - maybe only to protect dudes like Larry Flynt through "lawyeristic" mambo-jumbo. One more proof that the extremes touch each other - wild capitalists with idiotic communists with short-minded priests with criminal nazy. I read And Tango Makes Three, and I can say that it is a very nice little book filled with many emotions which some humans don't prove to have; this was probably banned by the extremist Tea party based on the sexist idea that it is wrong for two males to raise a child. I also read The Hunger Games and it made me think how close we are to this kind of TV shows - with or without post-apocalyptic scenario; this was probably banned by the TV trusts which already have some plans for these shows. Brave New World is probably banned too late - we live in the described society. Anyway, this kind of lists - as SBOVERIE said very well - is nothing but a great reading recommendation. I ALWAYS read banned books first.

schrodingerscat
schrodingerscat

. . . is fiction aimed at the mentally ill. End of that one. To get back to the main point, though, it's a short step from banning books to burning them. And it's a short step from burning books to burning people. Brave New World is a key text of the twentieth century. As for two male penguins - my word, the horror! These people are superstitious psychopths. and are breeding as we speak. Now THAT's something we should ban.

ardavidson
ardavidson

"They want a world where nothing outside of their narrow ideology is permitted." When did you become omniscient? Just who are you to tell other people what they think? You are as bad as those you disdain.

oldthom
oldthom

This is not new. Man is the only animal that creates his own virtues and vices as it becomes convenient to do so. In the USofA? We are imploding as a culture. Like too many rats caught in a maze of limited possibilities we will devour ourselves in the name of protecting us from us. The strengths that made us creep out of the ooze are now working against us as we eat our young and terminate our elderly. Banning books? this is not new, just one of many of the tools in our arsenal of mindless atrocities we force on ourselves. As Mark Twain wrote in his "Notebook", "Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them."

budbeaty
budbeaty

What does Mr. Woychowsky mean by "banned"? That's what the Nazis did. He also did not say who was banning these books. Sounds like something evil going on and yet he doesn't identify the perpetrators nor the victims. Whoever he's talking about will not prevent me from reading those books (although I'd rather read technical articles -- which is what I thought TechRepublic was about).

mwclarke1
mwclarke1

Once there was this country where people were free and had rights,...... There is choice, Although I have many issues myself with today's government run schools, I do not agree with all the parents want to restrict things even more, book banning, etc. If they do not like how things are run, get them into a private school, and not good enough, home school. Worse is the damn BOE idiots that run scared from just the threat of one parent filing a lawsuit. We need a revamped judicial system with less far left sitting judges to stand up for what this country was founded upon and just start dismissing all the frivolous lawsuits that come up abut these issues.

marcedhk
marcedhk

1) I believe YOU have a RIGHT to indoctrinate YOUR children about ANYTHING you please, irrespective about whether I or anybody else considers it appropriate, inappopriate, or just plain ridiculous. I also have that same right, as does every parent. It is important to note here, that what constitutes indoctrination is often a matter of personal opinion, as often those who oppose your views will label what you teach your child to be indoctrination if you don't also teach your child their opposing views as well. 2) ALL parents also have a RIGHT to make a determination about whether their child has achieved the level of critical thinking necessary to examine and properly process certain material, opinions and concepts that the PARENT considers may be damaging, misleading, incorrect, or generally at conflict with the values or direction they wish to lead their child in. It should be recognized that the parent is the person in the best position to make such a determination, and their right to prevent their child from being exposed to such materials until they feel their child is mature enough to deal with it should be accommodated and NOT be challenged by the school. 3) In matters concerning controversial social issues where there is a public health or safety consideration involved, the schools should still submit to the parents authority on what is presented to the child. However, the schools should at the same time be permitted to ensure that the parent does review the material, listen to the arguments and give them proper consideration so that it can be assured they are making an informed decision.

kjmartin
kjmartin

These are not books that were outlawed by the federal government, state government or even the judiciary. A local school board removing a book from a required reading list because of parental objections is not the same as a Nazi book burning. If you don't like the decisions of the school board show up and let them know but don't go on the internet and give some self-righteous diatribe about government thought control. Would you object to Glen Beck being required reading? I realize this goes against the groupthink of the respondents to this blog, so go ahead with your morning indignation.

semi-adult
semi-adult

Must be my day for masochism. I read the article, and all the comments. What a testimony to the power of propaganda and thought control. Not to mention a continuous demonstration of total douchebaggery. And the scary part is, it's probably an illustration of where the money for public stupid comes from. I'm hoping for a Bachmann/Cain ticket, myself. btw... Keep up the fight, Tony. Illegitimus non carborundum.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

There's a good reason why, "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech". Unfortunately, it says only Congress; so states and localities can be as neanderthalish as they want. The President can issue an executive order, and send in the cops and military to enforce his will; but that's not a law of the land, and therefore not legal. And of course, the Judicial Branch can rule laws as un-Constitutional; but can't make laws.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Some parents in my region have complained about it, that it has the "N" word and is condescending to black people (in Canada the term African American isn't prevelent). But I think the message in the book is very very important. It isn't about being bullied per se(though there is some of that). It is about tolerance and not being passive about injustices to others. A Canadian author, Lawrence Hill, has written a great novel called the "Book of Negroes" and his book has been banned in some states because the title was deemed to be politically incorrect. But the book itself is an actual historical document from the time of the American Revolution. This is the kind of book you want kids to read. Someone in Holland threatened to buy all the copies he could and burn them. It has been republished in the US under a new title, Someone knows my name.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Occasionally it's okay to use the f word? Or bullying is wrong? None of my children are bullies, they swear like a docker on a cold morning though, good result as far as I'm concerned.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

That's why the people who do them, or want to do them, want them hidden....... PS BNW is dystopian, as in not utopian. It doesn't matter what Mr Huxley wrote, it's what we read, that's important. Think about it...

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

Could also be that I giving them to much credit, as in the ability to think for themselves. Might be that they think that freedom of speach only applies to them.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I mean may be they were just bored, or they had a lottery for what to do on Wednesdays and book banning won. Perhaps they are fully paid paid up members of the what should we do to piss off Ed Club? That's right it's a conspiracy initated by aliens with a bad habit of pretending to be those other deities and littering the earth with boxes their pyramid shaped space ships were delivered in. And they a have bad breath and strange sexual habits involving cabbage patch dolls. You don't get out much do you?

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

It's relevant because Techs are often Geeks, and Geeks often like books.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I don't believe anyone has a right to indoctrinate a child about anything. Indoctrination is not withholding my opposing view, it's withholding any. In fact to be really effective, the mere existence of any alternative should be actively and thoroughly discouraged.. The power you want, the fact that you wish to inflict it on others is not an excuse, was is and always will be abused. I don't trust myself with it, I'm reluctant to trust you with it, and history has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that any single person who has sought, never mind achieved that power has abused it. Make an informed decision? Ah you kidding me, these people are already victims of the abuse you wish to perpertuate. They don't, can't and won't accept that there are alternatives to be informed about. That's what indoctrination is, to tie a system of beliefs to a person identity, so they view a threat to it as a threat to themselves. So not just No hell no. .

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I don't think so. 1) No, you don't have that right. Indoctrination is in violation of human rights, and they always take precedent. Yes, even when the victim is "merely" a child. 2)If you think maths are wrong, then you can deny your child that skill as well? No, same reason. 3) A wise man once said : confine yourself to allergens!

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

But a secular writer can't tell people that no, books aren't dangerous?

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

It???s merely the first step towards Nazi book burning. Once people have been desensitized, then the book burnings will start.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I'm the human version of the impossibily large yet tiny piece of stone stuck in your sock that you can't f'ing find. :D

bboyd
bboyd

And yes they can. To refute your other statements, no States and Local governments are still held to the constitution and their state constitutions. So freedom of speech shall not be abridged. Your title is my biggest beef, eye for an eye, freedom for freedom? I guess they can read whatever books are in the prison library. Also I assume you mean to say prison not jail, or are you not going to give them a trial. http://www.diffen.com/difference/Jail_vs_Prison

ayahdikjah
ayahdikjah

is between your ears, not between it's covers.

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

I enjoy being pissed-off, makes me feel more creative. Did you ever wonder, if somewhere there is an alternate Earth where the people look like grown-up cabbage patch dolls? Do you think that they'd have dolls that look like us?

aflynnhpg
aflynnhpg

Hey...how do we know you weren't indoctrinated with the idea that no one should be indoctrinated? Just kidding of course.

blarman
blarman

First of all, children do not have "rights". Their parents are their guardians, providers, and teachers and have responsibilities to act in the best interests of their children. It is only when the parents intentionally and repeatedly place their children in situations which may produce physical harm is there a case for outsiders - including the government - to step in. There is considerable proof from psychological studies that children are not capable of making many decisions for themselves. Thus their parents take on that role. While the child grows and learns, they develop a sense of discernment that eventually matures into the capability to distinguish between right and wrong, cause and effect, action and consequence. For the same reason that a parent warns their children not to put their hand on a hot pan, the parent similarly warns their children about other external influences that are just as or even more damaging. They do so because they love and care for their children and want the best for them. They want to spare them from the pain and scars that result from touching the hot pan - whether literal or metaphysical. The parent is exercising their love for their children by warning them not to read certain books, view certain videos, get drunk, do drugs, etc. Now you may disagree with what I view as moral. That is the age-old contest of religions that has been around as long as mankind itself. Ultimately, each of us has to decide what path to take and how to pursue our own happiness. I happen to know, however, that there is wrong and right and that those declarations were given by a loving God to us. Every time we choose not to obey his counsel, we feel the sting and pain of our decisions. As our Father, He loves us - His children - and tries to teach us what is right through His servants and their writings. Ultimately, He leaves it up to us to decide whether or not to follow His counsel, but He also introduces these concepts line upon line, precept upon precept as we mature and grow. Parents are simply following the example He has set in this matter.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Chock full of alternatives and appreciations. Some even have thoughts in them, thoughts about things others think shouldn't be thought about! Scary stuff. Thing is, these people, aren't against scaring people, they are against people being scared into doing something else...... Hyprocrites, the lot of them.

djed
djed

Local school districts are government.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

In another alernate there's one lot who look like cabage patch dolls, believe they were made in God's own image, and quite rightly are going to exterminate all the parents of children who own cabbage patch dolls for the sin of idolatry. It would have been the children themselves but they had no rights and were indoctrinated by wrong minded adults. :p

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I bet you surmised that the boards were still jammed with people of the more knee-jerky persuasion after the Great Gun-To-Work TR Bum Rush of 2011... (no, I'm not calling them bums, a bum rush is what it's called when a quiet home party suddenly turns into a 200+ participant rave). Great work luring them out into the open ;)

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

that idea is sometimes the result of useless parents trying to indoctrinate, and failing. Thank God children aren't as helpless as the book-burners would like.

pgit
pgit

I don't have time to dig them up right now, but court cases outright state you do not have a single right unless you fight for it. The courts are well withing their "rights" to knowingly roll over your rights with a steam roller. It's up to you to know when they are violating your rights and assert them. One supreme court decision the opinion was adamant, wording light "fight tooth and nail... with every ounce of your being... fight fight fight!!!" and such, stating that this is the only way an individual has any rights. In other words it is NOT incumbent on the system to protect your rights in any way shape or form, in fact it's the exact opposite the way they have it set up now. The system is there to get as much out of you in money, property and labor up to and just short of the point where you'd grab the pitchfork and storm city hall.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Which came first, rights or laws? Exactly how many books did your parents stop you from reading by the way?

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Human rights in particular, but I know how certain circles in the USA would rather just deny that whole thing. Human rights are universal limits to law, and are above national legal powers. If I have a right, and don't know it, the legal system MUST act to uphold my right, regardless. And yes, I read your post - you'll just have to take my word for it that your arguments aren't as slam-dunky as you thought.

blarman
blarman

Rights are a legal term and imply that a person has 1) the mental capacity necessary to understand the law, 2) the capability to make a decision based on that understanding and 3) the ability to accept the responsibility that comes from that action. A child has none of these. The parent is responsible in all cases until the child matures. Some physical adults - like those with Down's Syndrome - are still mentally children - legally - because they similarly lack these three critical faculties. Rights are not a matter of age or being - they are acquisitions based on capability. Regarding pedophilia, it is an absolutely abhorrent practice that comes from pure selfishness and a grossly perverted mind. Children are irreparably harmed by this evil practice, but the responsibility is the pedophiles' own. To place the blame upon the children by saying they have rights in this matter is wholly irresponsible and wrong, just as it is wrong to place responsibility on the victim of rape or murder. The perversion of the word "love" to describe acts such as these is evil incarnate, and any reasonable person should be quick to point that out. You should be ashamed and retract your post immediately.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

That was one lethal twist of the wrist, man! :D

aflynnhpg
aflynnhpg

You're half right blarman. One of the best methods out there to date for raising children is called "Love and Logic". It's based on giving choices to children and allowing them to make decisions (there are books about it, possibly those will be banned now that the secret is out about kids making choices). I take issue with your statement that children can't make decisions. They can, and stifling that process does not result in well rounded individuals. The key is allowing decisions within the boundaries that are age appropriate, age approprate based on congnative development. That doesn't come anywhere near advocating book banning. That just means you don't let you 8 year old drive the car around the neighborhood. I also take issue with the statement that children don't have rights. From a legal standpoint that is probably more accurate that I care to admit. It's an issue that needs to be resolved. I am a Foster Parent that is often frustrated that the rights of a biological Parent in many cases can take presidence over the developmental, physical or cognative needs of a child. In those cases I believe children should have rights that the state should insure they will be in a setting that allows and encourages the childs developmental, physical and cognative needs.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

a fetus... It's a well known opinion, I mean fact, no truth, thingy. One of them anyway...

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Well, congratulations, you just won the + votes of a whole lot of pedophiles. They call it "love", too.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I believe in right and wrong as well. I'm right, you're wrong. Doesn't really help that stuff, does it? Oh and what's all this we stuff, I don't believe any of that.

santeewelding
santeewelding

You have dug a hole of God and Truth, and pulled the hole in after you.

bboyd
bboyd

These bans are generally parent directed and I'll admit to allowing parental tyranny. Now if Child Protective Services start banning books I may start the revolution myself.

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