- CRITTER TALK
In Texas the Board of Education is actually considering a change to their textbooks which would include creationism as part of the readings, right alongside a watered down version of evolution. Texas, however, isn’t alone as four additional states, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, and Oklahoma, are actually considering new legislation directed at teaching science disguised as creationism in school curriculum’s that critics say would set up a backdoor way of questioning evolution, and allowing pupils to be taught religious, not scientific, versions of how life on earth really developed.
The purpose of this story, however, is not about books to be published, but books that have been published, some for decades and even centuries. These books have already been banned from some public libraries and schools:
1. Invisible Man
Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is a masterpiece that captures the grim realities of racial discrimination in 20th-century America. Unfortunately, thanks to a ban passed by the local board of education, school kids in Randolph County, N.C, won’t be able find that novel in their library. An angry parent objected to the book’s sexual content and lack of innocence, and the school board agreed to ban the book by a vote of 5-2 with one of the board members, Gary Mason, a scholarly man no doubt, stated: “I didn’t find any literary value.”
2. 1961: Tarzan series, Edgar Rice Burroughs
Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic series about a man living in the jungle was pulled from the shelves of a public library in the appropriately named town of Tarzana, Calif. Authorities thought the adventure stories unsuitable for youngsters, since there was no evidence that Tarzan and Jane had married before they started cohabiting in the treetops. Ralph Rothmund, who ran Burroughs’ estate, protested that the couple had taken marital vows in the jungle with Jane’s father serving as minister. “The father may not have been an ordained minister,” said Rothmund, “but after all things were primitive in those days in the jungle.”
3. 1983: The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank, chronicles the tragic experience of a Jewish family in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands, where the 13-year-old and her family hid until they were caught and sent to concentration camps in August 1944. The book has been challenged numerous times for sexually explicit passages, and, in 1983, the Alabama State Textbook Committee called for rejecting the book because it was “a real downer.”
4. 1996: Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare
School authorities in Merrimack, N.H. found nothing amusing about Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, in which a girl washes ashore after a shipwreck, disguises herself as a page, and falls in love with her male master. That jolly cross-dressing and fake-same-sex romance was deemed in violation of the district’s “prohibition of alternative lifestyle instruction,” and copies of the play were pulled from schools.
5. 2006: Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White
Even arachnophobes love Charlotte’s Web, a heart-warming tale about the friendship between a pig named Wilbur and a wordy barn spider called Charlotte. But a parents group in Kansas decided that any book featuring two talking animals must be the work of the devil, and so had E.B. White’s 1952 work barred from classrooms. The group’s central complaint was that humans are the highest level of God’s creation, as shown by, they said, the fact we’re “the only creatures that can communicate vocally. Showing lower life forms with human abilities is sacrilegious and disrespectful to God.”
6. 2007: Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
While pretty much every child was devouring the final book in the Harry Potter series in 2007, one school was pulling all seven Potter books from its library shelves. The pastor of St. Joseph School in Wakefield, Mass., deemed their sorcery-heavy story-lines inappropriate for a Catholic school. Parents said the pastor thought most children were “strong enough to resist the temptation,” but his job was to “protect the weak and the strong.”