Small-minded ban on Maus backfires: sales are better than ever, and students can get a copy for free

Originally published at: Small-minded ban on Maus backfires: sales are better than ever, and students can get a copy for free | Boing Boing


Congratulations, fascists of the McMinn county school board. You lose again.



Saint Barb approves!


[Thousands of unknown comic artists suddenly beg to be banned]


A little ray of sunshine is all it takes to put the Nazi/GQP/Fascist scum in their place.


‘Saint Babs’ has done her thing, blessed be.


Good, I hope it gets more people exposed to this story.


Sales do not mean the “ban” backfired. That’s an atomized, market-based response to a centralized, power-based action. The initial action – removal from the curriculum – is still in place, doing harm.


Partial backfire. They clearly didn’t want kids reading the book, now more kids will read the book. But the sales bump will likely be transitory while the ban is permanent, and of course the kids will miss out on in-class discussion of the material.


Reminds me that i need to get a copy of Maus


Way to see the silver lining, yo…


Also, this is now the absolute hottest anything in McMinn county among students right now.


The School Board has a lot of work ahead of it. Two works that have the same “Must Ban” word are Gone With The Wind and MacBeth and I’m pretty sure that they’re used in teaching there too. Plus lots and lots of others.


Taking a step back, it’s interesting to compare this to the “Seuss ban” from (believe it or not it was just) March 2021.

  • Seuss - Family-owned trust of author spends ~3 years with various groups, including the National Education Association to address words in classic books they owned that, while accepted at the time, are not reflective of modern values the family wishes to portray. They ceased publication of their own books, not recalling ones out there (fwiw, I have one in my bookcase I got when I was a kid long ago), and plan to see if it would be possible to adjust the images and words in the books to resume publishing them. A certain subset of the conservative world went insane, accusing liberals of demanding these be removed (never happened), banning the books (didn’t happen), and other claims. When the publishers of the book explained the reasons they were stopping publication, this was almost completely ignored for the continued fantasy of “banned books” that was completely invented. Some of these books were selling for thousands on ebay despite being on shelves in Target. 2 of the books hadn’t even been printed for a few years as they sold so few copies.

  • Maus - School trustees (i.e. ‘common folk’, not teachers) in Tennessee votes unanimously to remove the book from shelves immediately due to language and profanity, which was 8 swear words and nude mouse and not, for example, genocide. The book was specifically listed as curriculum by the school board. This decision was bafflingly made the day before Holocaust Remembrance Day because of reasons, I guess? The book is acclaimed for it’s treatment of the Holocaust and has been in the top 10 of literature for literally decades. It’s won a stack of awards. Since the ban, including the pictures of people removing the boxes of books from the site, more people than ever have become aware of the book. People are buying the book (and having copies donated) not because it was banned in a school district, but because they want to learn what was felt needed to be hidden. In a normal time, the conspiracy theory people would be all over this. Prior to the controversy, the book was at #23 on the Amazon best seller list, so it was already selling fairly well before becoming a solid #1. Since the ban, multiple organizations have sprung up to teach using the book, both colleges and even a local church.

The contrast is dramatic. The Seuss incident had the writer, or at least the owner of the book, looking to modify their message to be more appropriate which set people off about “cancel culture” whereas in the second example a group literally decided to cancel a book and ended up sharing the message with tens of thousands of people who were unaware of it.

Edit - Oh, I forgot one thing that I found during researching this post. This decision was also made during “School Board Appreciation Week”. I feel that adds a nice layer of oxymoron sauce on this stupid sandwich.


Maus is wonderful, and I’m so happy to see this societal push back. But I’m also hopeful this attention on WWII focused graphic novels will lead some youth (and adults) to Barefoot Gen. I found it to be equally moving and a strong reminder to view the awfulness of war from both sides.


I agree!

Speaking of WW II-related comics, this is good too.