Another school year just started: welcome back to the book censorship wars


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“A school board in Missouri removed Fahrenheit 451, Kurt Vonnegut’s
classic novel about the bombing of Dresden during World War II”
Um… fact check fail.


Especially as the “Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Censorship”…


I think he means Slaughterhouse Five, Mark Twain’s classic tale of young Holden Caufield and his encounters with the lonely phoniness of the big city.


I loved that book. It taught me a new word: flappers. I say it all the time!


I know it’s cliché but when I was a kid banned books lists really were sometimes used by my friends and I as guides to what to read. Not always, but the fact that, say, certain Judy Blume books could only be checked out from the library with parental permission just made us want to read them.

Is this still true? Or have “bad books” lost their cool cachet?


In Canada it’s “233 Celsius” When is the US going to get with the program?


I initially assumed there was an “and” missing, since Fahrenheit 451 has been challenged in some schools, but it seems that (oddly enough) that hasn’t happened in Missouri. So: oops.

Here’s the great thing about books - schools can ban whatever they want, but kids can still read the books anyway on their own time.

You’re a parent who disagrees with what the school bans? Take your kid to the bookstore or the library and let them read whatever they want to.

Or perhaps you’re the kind of parent who agrees with the school bans, even if only out of a desire to "protect’ them? You’re gonna have a very hard time stopping your child from getting a hold of the books they actually want to read that you disapprove of.

With lending libraries, bookstores, teachers, friends, and the internet as readily available sources of written works, you’d have to become a paranoid tyrant, locking down and utterly controlling every bit of their media consumption, to have any chance of enforcing your rules - and at that point you’re doing far more damage to your child than any book ever could.


Well, I can almost understand banning a novel about the firebombing of Dresden that begins with the lines: “It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed.”


Fighting back against anxiety borne of ignorance is so wearying. It is a battle that will never be won.


See also

If the right-wingers were smarter about this they would just add the bible and other religious books to the curriculum and then protest when they are banned. If they could give Atlas Shrugged and the Bible the super special banned status they might get more readers.

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They did that on purpose to trick people into revealing that they’d read at least one of those two books. You’re on the list.


You’d think parents would want their kids to read books like these, as opposed to playing video games, watching TV, or hanging out on social media sites.

I love to read and absolutely detest banning books, but what is it that makes reading fiction inherently better than those other activities?


Is there any evidence that Common Sense Media is contributing to book bannings? Seems like an odd attack and implied causality. CSM provides rough summaries that let parents make choices for kids. In a no-censorship world, this is a pretty essential service.

My kid is four, and yeah, I want summaries of the media she consumes. Are they doing a good job of reviewing books with adult themes? Seems like a giant no. But if you need to know whether LEGO Star Wars or Star Wars: Clone Wars Animated series is more appropriate for a 6 year old, they’re pretty helpful.

Censorship, bad. Independent media criticism, good. Am I missing something?

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Huh. My high-school library had all sorts of books. Granted, not necessarily on some reading list. There was one hardcover, I don’t remember the author (as I recall, it was some multi-bestseller dude, back in the early 90s), but I think it was called “Aztec” or maybe “Inca,” that was on the top shelf of the display cases next to the check-out counter. The book featured all sorts of sexual kinks, including incest and pedophilia (not at the same time). I never finished it, as I found it boggling and the characters’ motives incomprehensible. However, there was never some fanfare to get it out of the library. Read it or don’t.

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I used to locate highly recommended books for my kid’s age group and then read them myself to see if that’s what I wanted them to read. Only then would I give it to them.

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Fortunately public libraries are become less of a problem for the concerned parent as government funding to these degenerate hippie communes is curtailed. Once we’ve done away with net neutrality, our kids should be safe from these deviant views. :wink:


Sadly, there’s still the possibility of privately funded libraries - even just small ones run by individuals.

Clearly, the only safe option is to make the ownership of physical books illegal, allowing only DRM locked digital copies. Unfortunately there are many millions - nay billions - of physical books in the world that we’ll have to root out and burn. Only then will children be safe from dissenting ideas. :disappointed_relieved: