I have the audiobook version of The Lord of the Rings, but since I haven’t read it since I was 12, I decided to borrow the Boyfriend’s copy instead of listening to the audio for #FanspeakTheRing.
Did you know that The Lord of the Rings is not actually a trilogy? Though it’s usually broken down into three books (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King), it’s actually six books broken down into three parts/volumes. Did you also know that, as a whole, they’re on the banned and challenged books list? According to the ALA, it was burned in Alamogordo, New Mexico for being “satanic.” My guess is that the people behind such a horrible act have never actually read The Lord of the Rings or know anything about its author.
Since I’m following the schedule for #FanspeakTheRing, I’ve only just started the second part. So, I don’t yet have an opinion about it or the third part. However, so far, it’s much better than I remember it being. The Hobbit has always been my favorite book by Tolkien, and even though I love the movies based on The Lord of the Rings, I remember feeling as if the books dragged on a bit and were easily confusing when I read them all those years ago. I never felt that way during this re-read, and if the rest is as wonderful, I’m fairly certain it will be joining the ranks of The Hobbit on my all-time favorites list.
Since it’s Banned Books Week, all of this “Thursday’s Things” are related to banned books. I’ve also updated the Banned Books page to remove broken links so check it out for even more information about banned books. Sometime during this month, I’ll do a second “Thursday’s Things” in celebration of all things Halloween.
Banned Books Infographic – This infographic is supposed to be up to the present, but the last book listed was banned in 2003. Regardless, it’s still interesting and informative on the history of book banning.
Since it’s Banned Books Week, I’d like to take a break from the usual discussion to share with you some of the many challenges, bannings, and burnings of the Harry Potter books. Before we get to that, though, this month’s featured post is about how Shaina @ Shaina Reads almost didn’t read the series. Check it out to find out why and then add your own Harry Potter related posts to the link-up for your chance to be featured in next month’s discussion post.
Douglas County, Colorado; Moorpark, California; and Buffalo, New York – Formal complaints against Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone were filed by parents in the school districts. In 2000, another parent in Moorpark, CA stated, “It was a horrible book…It talked about death and killing. It talks about drinking animal blood. That is witchcraft, and as a religion it doesn’t belong in school.”
South Carolina – Parents requested Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone be banned from all South Carolina schools, stating it had “a serious tone of death, hate, lack of respect, and sheer evil,” and it was “trying to disguise things as fun and easy that are really evil.”
Simi Valley, California – A parent stated that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was “violent, antifamily, had a religious theme, and lacked educational value.”
Saginaw, Michigan – Bruckner Elementary School became the first school in the United States to remove Harry Potter from the classroom. A parent complained, “the books are based on sorcery, which is an abomination to the Lord…I read a couple of chapters and felt like God didn’t want me reading it.” The school’s principal decided to ban the books from being read in class.
Zeeland, Michigan – School Superintendent Gary L. Feenstra directed school librarians to remove Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone from the shelves. Later, he decided not to ban the book but restricted it by requiring students to have parental permission to check it out.
Bend, Oregon – Parents asked school officials to ban the series from the district’s schools, stating the books referred to witchcraft and divination and would lead children to hatred and rebellion. The school superintendent rejected the request and stated the parents couldn’t determine the reading materials for all of the students.
Band-La Pine, Oregon – Parents requested that the school board ban the series, stating it “threatened the fundamental morality of students.” The school board voted to keep the books.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa – Parents asked that the books be removed from school libraries because of its “romantic characterization of witches, warlocks, wizards, goblins, and sorcerers.” and, “These things by their very nature erode the morality of our children, and therefore ultimately our society.”
Salamanca, New York – The school board voted to keep the series in the elementary school libraries after parents complained about the dark themes in the books.
Whittier, California – A petition signed by 53 parents said the series “exposes our young children’s minds to black magic and…horrible experiences that our children don’t need to hear or read about.” The review committee stated, “if books were to be banned from schools due to violence depicted, then stories such as Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, and the Three Little Pigs would need to be added to the list.”
Jacksonville, Florida – The Public Library received complaints and was threatened with a lawsuit after passing out “Hogwarts’ Certificates of Accomplishment” to children who read all the books in the series at that time. One parent stated, “We don’t want our children to be exposed to witchcraft. If they are going to pass out witchcraft certificates, they should promote the Bible and pass out certificates of righteousness.”
Pace, Florida – A resident requested that the series be removed from the school libraries on the grounds of glorifying witchcraft and the occult and opposing Biblical teachings. He stated, “I know a lot of parents and teachers love it because the kids are excited about reading. But there’s excitement in drugs, there’s excitement in fornication, there’s excitement in crime, but that doesn’t mean they’re good for a person.”
Santa Fe, Texas – School principles voted to require written permission from parents before students were allowed to check out any of the books in the series.
Arab, Alabama – A parent requested the Board of Education remove the series from school libraries and stated she was speaking on behalf of other Christians. She also stated that J. K. Rowling was a member of the occult, and the books encourage children to practice witchcraft. “It was a mistake years ago to take prayer out of the schools because it let Satan in. We need to put God back in the schools and throw the Harry Potter books out.” The school board voted to keep the books in the schools.
Rural, Pennsylvania – A burning of the Harry Potter books was conducted by a church.
Chester County, Pennsylvania – A former substitute teacher registered a formal complaint and stated, “Harry Potter teaches you it’s OK to get back at people.”
Oskaloosa, Kansas – The Public Library canceled a Summer storytelling event after residents became concerned about their children being taught witchcraft.
Alamogordo, New Mexico – a church burned copies of the books.
Cedarville, Arkansas – Angie Haney filed a formal complaint with the Cedarville School District in June of 2002. In her complaint, she stated the books were objectionable because they teach children “parents/teachers/rules are stupid or are something to be ignored. That magic will solve your problems. That there are good witches and good magic.” The books were restricted and could only be checked out by students with parental permission. The district court later overturned the school board’s decision, noting that the school board couldn’t restrict students’ right to read a book on the grounds of disagreeing with its contents.
Lewiston, Maine – A ceremonial shredding of copies of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was conducted the night before the film adaptation was released. The group had already done a book shredding in 2001 before the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released. The group originally wanted to burn the books, but city officials refused to grant the necessary burning permit.
2005 – 2007
Gwinnett County, Georgia – A parent claimed the novels were an evil attempt to “indoctrinate children in pagan religion” and should be removed from the schools. Despite not having read the books, she also stated the books were full of “evil themes, witchcraft, demonic activity, murder, evil blood sacrifice, spells.” and, “I don’t agree with what’s in them. I don’t have to read an entire pornographic magazine to know it’s obscene.” She told the school board that she wanted “to protect children from evil, not fill their minds with it. The ‘Harry Potter’ books teach children and adults that witchcraft is OK for children.” She also suggested the books be replaced by C. S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia” or Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind: The Kids” series. She appealed to the Georgia state Board of Education after the school board rejected her request. After the Board of Education upheld the school board’s decision, she took the case to a state court, which also upheld the decision. She then threatened to take the case to federal court.
*Above artwork courtesy of the American Library Association
It is amazing to me how difficult it has been for me to find books that have been banned for reasons other than language and/or sexual content. American culture seems to be obsessed with four letter words and the bedroom, or at least obsessed with seeing the use of either as a sign of immorality and wanting any use of the former or any discussion of the latter to go away so that we can all pretend they don’t exist. It’s no wonder there are many out there who are deliberately rude and crude. They’re trying to shake things up and get people to take the sticks out of their rear ends, lighten up, and stop taking life so seriously.
Then there’s Aldous Huxley, and his book Brave New World. To be honest, I knew about Brave New World, but I’ve never read it, and I had no idea what it was about. From the title, I had guessed that it was similar to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The only thing they have in common is that they are both critiquing society. That’s right, Huxley isn’t trying to get anyone to lighten up. He wants us to really take a look at how we live and see that all of our drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. is the problem. So why would anyone want to ban this book? In addition to being considered obscene, people thought it vilified the family, and encouraged drug use, which is the exact opposite of what he was doing. It was also thought to be depressing, negative, and fatalistic, as well as promoting conformity of all things. There was such an uproar in some cases that teachers were fired. In 2000, it was pulled from a library in Alabama because it supposedly showed contempt for religion and marriage. All of this makes me want to scream “You’re missing the point!”
For those of you who have read Brave New World, what are your thoughts? Is it a moral tale or a story designed to corrupt society?
*Above artwork courtesy of the American Library Association
Since it’s Banned Books Week, I decided to use one of the resource books I found at the library for this today’s Quotables. It has a section of quotes, and I found several that are either thought provoking or just simply awesome.
The first quote falls into the latter category:
“Whenever I notice that my name isn’t on the list of banned and challenged authors, I feel faintly like I’m letting the side down. Although I suspect all I’d have to do to get on the list is to write a book about naked, bisexual, hard-swearing wizards who drink a lot while disparaging the Second Amendment, and I’d be home and dry.” – Neil Gaiman
The second and third quotes are more thought provoking:
“Where there is official censorship it is a sign that speech is serious. When there is none, it is pretty certain that the official spokesmen have all the loudspeakers.” – Paul Goodman
“A democratic society depends upon an informed and educated citizenry” – Thomas Jefferson
These made me think about the media and the plethora of useless and often ridiculous information that gets spouted on every form of communication available. Though the first quote specifically mentions “official spokesmen”, I think it still holds true when you include all the news networks. Perhaps the lack of truly important news is only because they’re going with what sells, but it makes me wonder if there isn’t a second reason. I’m reminded of the Roman phrase “bread and circuses”. The Romans had the gladiators; we have celebrities.
Which leads me to the fourth quote I found:
“Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance” – Lyndon Baines Johnson, commenting as he signed a bill providing an increase in Federal aid for libraries on Feb. 11th, 1964
I HAD to include this quote because LBJ was an alumni of my university on top of being a supporter of libraries and education (click on the picture for more info).
*Above artwork courtesy of the American Library Association
To celebrate Banned Books Week, I spent some time in the library looking for books on the subject. I found 2 promising ones, 100 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature and Banned Books: 2007 Resource Guide (unfortunately, that was the most recent year available). As I discover more of the books that have been banned from these and other resources, I will post about them. I will also be creating a page dedicated to banned books, with resources and links for learning more and finding the banned books that will soothe the rebel in all of us!
Since much of the media discusses the most banned books or the most well known books that have been banned, I’ve decided to concentrate on books that have been banned within the last 30 years, and were unknown to me. I won’t be discussing books banned for sexual content or language, as most of the banning for those reasons involves schools and what children should be reading. Don’t get me wrong, I’m against censorship and the banning of books for any reason; however, I think it’s important for parents to be involved in their children’s education, and I’m not going to judge or criticize their parenting.
That being said, the first book I’ll be discussing, I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier, involves being banned from schools over some language in the book. However, it was also banned for another reason: it was considered to be subversive and anti-government. After a couple complaints, the Superintendent of schools, Leonard Hall, who felt it was wrong to question the government, banned the book, created an extreme review policy for choosing books, and then went on to ban 64 others from the schools in Bay County, Florida. The banning led to a lawsuit (Farrell v. Hall) in 1987, which was eventually settled out of court, but only because Hall chose not to run for re-election.
What do you think, Reader? Which is more un-American: the book for presenting the idea of questioning government, or wanting to keep that idea from young adults?