Friday, August 8, 2008

Banned Books

While the kids and I were on our road trip through Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri, Ron spoke in support of the school board's actions in the John Freshwater case at the Aug. 4 school board meeting. As he entered the room, he was given a sheet of paper by a man standing beside the door and told "this is a list of books we want to ban." Or was the word "burn"? Ron said there was too much background noise to tell for sure. I know we're not the only community to have people trying to ban books from schools, but it certainly is discouraging to find this in my own backyard. My reaction, of course, is to read any of the books on the list that I haven't already read (in fact, this morning I suggested to a local bookstore owner that she put up a display of these books and told her I'd bring her the list--she's the bookstore owner quoted in the Chicago Tribune article about the local controversy over Freshwater's firing).

Books to be banned (or burned?) by Freshwater's supporters (with accompanying notes):
*author Robert Cormier*
Fade (2 copies)
We all Fall Down
In the Middle of the Night
Daring to Disturb the Universe
*author Ann Brashares*
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
The Second Summer of the Sisterhood
Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood
*author Garret Freymann-Weyr*
Stay with Me
My Heartbeat
*author Laurie Halse Anderson*
Speak (1MS, 1HS)
Fever (HS1 MS1, Elementary 5)
The Way of all Flesh --Morton Zabel
Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle (lesbian)
The Giver --Lois Lowry
Inexcusable by Chris Lynch
Bless Me Ultima
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
America by E.R. Frank
Fallen Angels Walter Myers
Stuck in Neutral Terry Newman
The Guy Book Marvas Jukes
Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
The Woman Warrior Maxine Hong Kingston
The Hot Zone Richard Preston
Native Son Richard Wright
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Ragtime E.L. Doctorow (6 copies)
The Moves Make the Man Bruce Brooks
A Room on Lorelei Street
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood
Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbson
Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going
Forever by Judy Blume
Go Ask Alice by anonymous author
*author John Green*
Looking for Alaska (oral sex)
An Abundance of Katherines
*author Ellen Wittlinger*
Sandpiper (oral sex)
Heart on my Sleeve
What's in a Name
*author Toni Morrison*
The Bluest Eyes
Beloved (1CD 2 books)
The Song of Solomon
*author Chris Crutcher* (10 different titles, 13 copies)
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes
Lucas --Kevin Brooks
Whale Talk (1 MS 2 HS)
The Secret Life of Bees
Athletic Shorts (1 MS 3 HS)
Under the Wolf Under the Dog
The Kite Runner Khaled Hussien
The Color Purple Alice Walker
I Know Why a Caged Bird Sings
Endgame Nancy Garoner
Doormat Kelly McWilliams
Doing It Right Bronwen Pardes
The Joy Luck Club Amy Tan
The House You Passed on the Way
101 Questions About Sex
One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
Taking Responsibility: Teen Guide to Contraceptives & Pregnancy
Sexual Violence: Opposing View
The Glass Cafe Gary Paulsen
Peeps Scott Westerfeld
The Awakening Kate Chopin

This whole Freshwater fiasco has pushed me further away from the idea that Christianity can be a force for good in today's world (and if you still think it can, then please explain to me why The Handmaid's Tale and Things Fall Apart are on that list--the only possible explanation is that they put Christianity in a bad light.)

So I'm becoming a pastafarian. I just read The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (There's an associated website at The "Gospel" is a satire on creationism/intelligent design, written in reaction to the Kansas school board's attempt to work creationism/intelligent design into their school curriculum. It's a satire aimed at people just like the guy who addressed his letter to the editor to me, people who believe that "alternative theories (to evolution) must be taught in order to give our young students' minds a broad foundation." So The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster begins by saying that "The Intelligent Design proponents make a compelling, and totally legitimate, argument that if a theory has not been proven, then one suggested theory is just as good as another" and it goes on to offer alterative theories to the theory of gravity.

Read it and weep. I did.


harriet M. Welsch said...

That IS depressing. I love how Fahrenheit 451 always makes these lists. Because if you are of the frame of mind to ban books, you have to ban books that might offer an opposing view. These people scare me.

Anonymous said...

Handmaid's Tale deals with sex, sexuality and drinking. It raises questions about women's right to control their bodies and their reproduction. (Bear in mind that our heroine says that while she finds the menage a trois situation distasteful, she chose it.) There's serial monogamy, i.e. the Handmaids passed from hand to hand. Plus there's the abducted child, and the blackmail, and...

and I still think it's brilliant.


Alison said...

I'd heard about the banning business, although I had not seen the full list. Depressing indeed. I do have to wonder whether any of these folks knows what Fahrenheit 451 is about, and are simply irony-impaired, or if they only know it's one of those books that's supposed to be banned.

Now on the other hand, Fever 1793 might be a little heavy for most elementary school kids. I think I saw it recommended for 12 and up, which would put it squarely in middle school range.

Jeanne said...

Irony alert: Yes, the handmaid of the tale says she "chose" to be a handmaid, but she points out that the other choice was death by torture.

FreshHell said...

Jeanne - I am preparing to send the long-awaited doodles but don't have your address. Can you send it to myfreshhell at hotmail dot com?

paj said...

I printed out the list of proposed banned books, gave it to my 13-year-old with an explanation of the source of the list, and then enjoyed watching her exasperation as she read the list. She's read many of them and now plans to read others.
I agree with lemming in the comments that the Handmaid's Tale might have something other than an assault on Christianity that bothers people (any mention of sex warrants a spot on the banned lists for people who would want to ban books). And I strongly disagree that Christianity cannot be a force for good in this world. The teachings of Christ, particularly the great commandment, if followed, could be a tremendous source of good. The great problem is a blind following of dogma.

Jeanne said...

Thanks for the reassurance from rational Christians. I do forget how some folks regard sex as "evil" and "dirty."