Districts spark controversy with book bans


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School districts across the United States have created news with discussions of banning books.

Max Wolfe , Assistant News Editor

The 10-person school board of McMinn County, Tennessee, made a controversial decision Jan. 10 that thrust their school district into the middle of a reemerging national debate: the banning of books.

The school board banned the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel “Maus” through a unanimous vote, citing vulgar language and the nude depiction of a woman. The graphic novel depicts the struggles of author Art Spiegelman’s parents as survivors of the Holocaust.

Opponents of the ban have argued that the ban is illogical, claiming that depictions of the Holocaust cannot be watered down because the historical event itself was so graphic.

“This is disturbing imagery,” said Spiegelman himself. “But you know what? It’s disturbing history.”

A few states north of this controversy, similar events are transpiring in Pa. Pennridge School District recently made news after it restricted access to Lesléa Newman’s picture book “Heather Has Two Mommies” from the district’s libraries.

Newman’s work was published in 1989 and ended up being the ninth-most challenged book of the 1990s. Her book depicts a young girl named Heather, who has two mothers, learning that her family is different from her classmates’ and realizing that there is nothing wrong with that.

“It’s 1992 all over again,” said Newman on Twitter, commenting on the ban.
However, this push for literary suppression has birthed a counter movement. After it was banned by the McMinn County School Board, “Maus” shot up to the top of Amazon’s history and graphic novels categories, along with reaching the second spot in the overall bestsellers. Other banned books have similarly gained more attention due to their banned status. Students, librarians, grassroot groups, and even larger organizations — such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) — have sued the school districts that have implemented these book bans.

As this discussion on the banning of books goes on, it is important to consider the possibly harmful consequences of censorship and the extent to which the worldview of children should be policed.