Playing the Indian Card

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Banned Books

“Banned Books Week” has just concluded in the US, and this library display has been all over the Internet.

Great cartooning; but some of the claims it makes seem to be false. As far as I can tell, The Wizard of Oz has never been banned anywhere for “depicting women in strong leadership roles.” Some review did criticize it for this when it came out—i.e., in the very first years of the 20th century. Not exactly a clear and present danger. The Lorax was apparently pulled from some school libraries in California—in lumbering towns. Not because it “criminalized the foresting industry,” but because it might discourage local kids from going into that business. Is this really such a threat to our freedoms?

And then there is the bit about Winnie the Pooh being banned “because talking animals are an insult to God.” I can’t find evidence of this anywhere, but it makes no sense on the face of it.

First, there are talking animals in the Bible. Ever heard of the serpent in Eden? Balaam’s ass?

Second, there are talking animals in almost every children’s book written since Aesop.

Third, there are no talking animals in Winnie the Pooh.

Only talking stuffed toys, animated by Christopher Robin’s imagination.

Someone has been put on.

More generally, I’m afraid I cannot get too excited about school libraries and public libraries not stocking particular books. This is not censorship. Censorship is when you cannot legally buy a copy of a given book. It is just common sense that we have some limits on the books available to everyone’s children, and financed by the public’s taxes. Should school libraries stock Playboy and Hustler? Mein Kampf? The Anarchist Cookbook? At most, we are only debating whether these particular books should have been paid for and provided

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