Friday, August 26, 2005

Literature Suppressed on Social Grounds

At last, the final chapter. This has a good mix of nuts, all across the political spectrum. Again, I tried to force many of the censors into left/right positions when they might be better described as just plain crazy.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
Conservative: First banned in the Concord Public Library of Massachusetts and later libraries for language, behavior, and use of alcohol.

Liberal: Confiscated in Soviet Union, no explanation given (along with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer); 1957 the NAACP protested for racism and demanded it removed from NYC schools; 1969, Miami Dade Junior College removed it from required reading lists because it created emotional problems for black students that inhibited learning; repeatedly challenged and removed from schools for racial language

Other: Taylor County High School of Butler, Georgia objected to the "improper grammar"

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (1947)
You Call It: Repeatedly revised and edited in early publications; challenges due to sexual content, that the book "undermines adult authority, portrayal of "the mistreatment of the Jewish people" and Jewish girls; in 1983, four members of the Alabama Textbook Commission wanted to pull the book from schools because they felt it was "a real downer."

Annie on my Mind, Nancy Garden (novel about two girls who fall in love, 1982)
Conservative: Challenged and removed from school libraries because "it promotes and encourages the gay lifestyle" (despite the fact that the girls suffer and are humiliated for being lesbians)

Another Country, James Baldwin (1962)
Conservative: J. Edgar Hoover personally sent a copy of the book to FBI laboratories, upset over the interracial sex and homosexuality; bookseller arrested in New Orleans in 1963 for having copies of the book in stock

Appointment in Samarra, John O'Hara (1934)
Conservative: Boston's Watch and Ward Society, U.S. Post Office (banned from distribution by mail and placed on the U.S. Post Office Index of Banned Books, something I never knew existed), New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, National Organization for Decent Literature which had the book banned for sale in St. Cloud, Minnesota; Port Huron, St. Clair County, Michigan; and Detroit. The NODL limited sales in many other areas until the organization dissolved in the 1950s.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1791)
Conservative: Franklin's grandson, William Temple Franklin made 1,200 changes to an edition he published; various other publishers; the U.S. Post Office (due to sexual content and flatulence jokes)

Baby Be-Bop, Francesca Lia Block (young adult novel, 1995)
Conservative: bans in school libraries (homosexual themes and language)

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath (1963)
Conservative: "People who Care" and various school challenges for sexual content, use of birth control, negative attitude towards marriage; says a member of People who Care: "School decisions should be based on the absolutes of Christian behavior."

Black Like Me, John Howard Griffin (1961)
Conservative: various school challenges; described as "integration-centered, vulgar, filthy and unsuitable for any age level"; restricted in Missouri "because of black people being in the book.") One protestor explained, "In a rural community, people don't care to have their children read about Negroes,"

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley (1932)
Conservative: Banned in Ireland (1932); various school challenges ("language and moral content")

The Canterbury Tales (1387-1400)
Conservative: Fundamentalist Christians and various school challenges for "sexual explicitness," "vulgar language," "Promotion of women's lib" [from a minister in Florida], and promotion of communism [in 1953, Texans objected to the book because it was illustrated by a suspected Marxist]

Captain Underpants
Conservative: School challenges for humor based on "bathroom and bodily functions"; described as "a piece of poop," "irreverence to authority," and "no moral value to that poop character."

Catch-22 (1961)
Conservative: School challenges ("completely sick," "garbage")

Liberal: School challenges (treatment of women, one female character is only referred to as "Nately's whore")

The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
Conservative: Australia and America (a censorship group made a Smutmobile that they promoted around Oklahoma City when the state government debated censorship issues)
Objections because the book is "filthy and profane," promoted premarital sex and homosexuality, "explicitly pornographic," 785 uses of profanity, belief that the books was "part of a communist plot that was gaining a foothold in the schools," "centered around negative activity," and "the Lord's name is taken in vain."

A Clockwork Orange (1962)
Conservative: bookseller arrested for obscenity by stocking the novel in Orem, Utah; various school challenges

Cujo (1981)
Conservative: School challenges for "unacceptable language," "violence," "profane and sexually objectionable," "explicit sex scenes"; described as "a bunch of garbage"

The Drowning of Stephan Jones, Bette Greene (novel about homophobia, 1991)
Conservative: Removed or challenged from school libraries because it promotes "anti-Christian beliefs" and "illegal activity" (presumably homosexuality). One parent described the book as "a rattlesnake that needed to be killed right then and right there."

Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
You Call It: In 1967, the publisher edited out 75 passages to eliminate words like "damn," "hell," and "abortion" to heighten sales. Bradbury was not informed by the publisher but only learned about it in 1979. He demanded the book be restored.

Conservative: A few school districts; Venado Middle School blacked out all objectionable words with black marker.

Quote from the book I'd forgotten: "the word ‘intellectual' became the swear word it deserved to be."

Fallen Angels, Walter Dean Myers (Novel about Vietnam, 1988)
Conservative: Challenged or banned in many schools (Contains 300 "vulgarities")

Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying (1991)
Conservative (but not Americans): Varying degrees of bans and challenges in Australia, New Zealand, France, and England

Go Ask Alice (1971)
Conservative: Massive school challenges (drug use, sexual situations, homosexuality; words including "shitty, goddamned, pissing, ass, goddamned be Jesus, screwing, ass, and shit.")

Howl and Other Poems, 1956
Conservative: Seized as obscene in the U.S. (even after U.S. Customs cleared the book); described as "coarse and vulgar"; containing words like "cock," "fuck," "ass," "cunt," "gyzym," and "asshole"

Last Exit to Brooklyn, Hubert Selby Jr. (1964)
Conservative: American and European but the most severe in England. The last major novel, poem, or play prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959.

Leaves of Grass (1855)
Conservative: American and English, including Boston's Watch and Ward Society and the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice; book stores refused to carry it from initial publication; banned in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.
In a landmark of the American legal system, jurors in New York were told that the poems were "too grossly obscene and lewd to be placed on the records of the court." In other words, they were asked to find it obscene without reading or hearing it.

One critic said of the book, "a generation cannot be entirely pure which tolerates writers who, like Walt Whitman, commit, in writing, an offense like that indictable at common law of walking naked through the streets."

Manchild in the Promised Land, Claude Brown (autobiography, 1965)
Conservative: Baton Rouge's Concerned Citizens and Taxpayers for Decent Books and various schools; described as "too explicit" and "filth and obscenity"; one protestor was quoted as saying students "have no need to understand life in a black ghetto."

Liberal: Parkrose High School of Oregon ("women are degraded")

Naked Lunch (1959)
Conservative: Last literary work to be legally declared obscene; described as "mentally sick" and "grossly offensive"

Of Mice and Men (1937)
Conservative: Banned in Ireland (1953); banned in many U.S. municipalities by school groups including the Parents' Coalition of Hamilton, Ohio; challenged by the Klu Klux Klan of Greenville, North Carolina in 1977 for "profanities and using God's name in vain," parent claimed her daughter was a victim of "psychological and emotional abuse" by reading it in school; described as "vulgar" and "Steinbeck is known to have had an anti-business attitude"; 108 uses of profanity;
"It should be burned up, put in a fire," said an unnamed minister in Hamilton, Ohio

Liberal: NAACP; various school challenges; (use of the word "nigger"; 12 racial slurs throughout the novel; treatment of the mentally retarded)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962)
Liberal: Use of "racial slurs" such as "nigger," "coons," "boys," and "Jap"; portrayal of women

Conservative: Use of "obscene, filthy language" such as "boobs," "bitch," "fuck," "ballcutter,"; descriptions of "bestiality, bizarre violence and torture, dismemberment, death, and human elimination."

The Scarlet Letter (1850)
Conservative: American clergy and Tsar Nicholas I (Tsar Alexander II lifted many of Nicholas's bans, including many American works)

Described as "a dirty story," should only be in "a Brothel Library," "brokerage of lust" (in two separate occasions), and charged with promoting prostitution, adultery, and illegitimate children.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)
Liberal: Use of "nigger"; "institutional racism"

Conservative: Use of "damn" and "whore lady"; "anti-white"

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