Banned!

9 Books

An Incomplete Visual History Of Book Banning In America.


After several years of failed attempts to comment artistically on the practice of book banning in the United States, it finally occurred to me that the only way to explore the repression of ideas is to destroy books – unsuccessfully – myself.

Details I discovered about the controversies that erupted – and in some cases continue to dog - each book in this series are imbedded in each piece.  Documented facts on the suppression of each book reach beyond their covers and their various forms of bondage, as does information about the heights to which many of these books reached in spite of acts of repression.

This subject so gripped me that I wrote a follow-up paper subject, which now resides in the city of Cincinnati’s historical archives.

As a set: $800

Individually $90

Uncle Tom's Cabin


Published in 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Ton’s Cabin was the first book to be banned on a national scale.

Read More

...The Confederacy took exception to what it considered abolitionist propaganda and the ensuing fiery debates about slavery that it provoked. Some historians argue that it was the spark that set in motion the Civil War. In Mobile, Alabama, a bookseller was run out of town for selling it. Public book burnings were held on the great lawn of the University of Virginia. Southern novelist William Gilmore Simms declared the work “utterly false”; others called it criminal, or slanderous. It was the 2nd best selling book of the 19th century after the King James Bible. It has been translated into more than 60 languages.

Sold

Of Mice and Men


Complaints about profanity, racism, blasphemy, profanity, the author’s perceived anti-business attitude, his “questionable patriotism”, profanity, blasphemy, sexual overtones, profanity, blasphemy, profanity, blasphemy, and the fact that the tale of two ranch hands, struggling during the Great Depression, was "too negative" has made this book the second most banned book in the United States.

Read More

...1962. John Steinbeck wins the Nobel Prize for Literature for Of Mice and Men.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 1 and 2


1855. Mark Twain publishes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn about the adventures and friendship of a poor white boy and an escaped slave in the Mississippi Valley.

Read More

...IMMEDIATELY it is barred from all Concord, MA public libraries as “trash and suitable only for the slums”. 1902. The public libraries of the city of Omaha “hushed Huck” for “pernicious influence on young people.” Brooklyn public libraries banned it because of Huck’s poor behavior. Denver public libraries removed it from the approved list of books for boys. 1957. Removed by the NYC Board of Ed from approved textbook lists in elementary and junior high schools for racial offensiveness. 1982: “This book is poison. It is Anti-American; It works against the melting pot theory of our country, it works against the idea that all men are created equal; it works against the 14th amendment of the Constitution and against the preamble that guarantees all men life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was banned in Fairfax, VA from the Mark Twain Intermediate School. 1984, banned from Davenport, IA and Houston, TX and Bucks County, PA. Fast forward another decade. It was the single most challenged book in 1995-1996, according to the American Library Association (ALA). 2005. Pulled from the reading lists of three public high schools in Renton, WA for degrading African Americans. 2007. Removed from Taylor MI schools for racial slurs. In 2011 a publisher released a modified edition that had removed all instances of the ‘N-word’. 2015. Erased from the 11th grade English curriculum at the Friends’ Central School in Philadelphia because Twain’s liberal use of the N-word and perceived racist portrayals of black characters made a group of students uncomfortable, the book’s negative impact on the community outweighed its literary benefits.” The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was the most challenged book in 1995-1996. It has been translated into over 53 languages. It has never gone out of print since its first printing in 1855. It is still not read in most schools in the south, as it is considered an unfair portrayal of southern life.

The Catcher In The Rye


1960. Catcher in the Rye is banned from a school in Tulsa, OK and a teacher is fired for teaching it.

Read More

...Over the course of the next 18 years it is banned from schools on the left coast and right, from schools in the north and the south and in the heartland. It is banned for its profanity, for sexual references, for violence. It is removed from public high schools is Issaquah, WA for being an “overall communists plot” and in 2001 in Summerville, SC for being a “filthy, filthy book”

Beloved 1 and 2


1976. The American Heritage Dictionary was removed from school libraries in Anchorage, Alaska and Cedar Lake, Indiana because of its “objectionable language.”

Read More

...Throughout the decades, across the nation, schools were denying definitions to our kids because somewhere in America, a little boy looked up the word ‘ball’, found the plural slang definition as a part of the male anatomy and thought it was so funny that he went home and told his mom. If only I had been smart enough to check out the dictionary. When I was 6, Salpy Keleshian told me the way to make babies was to let a boy stick his thumb in your butt. This was very confusing to me, for while I was raised in a house that used the words vagina and penis, the only word I knew for that rear part of my anatomy was ‘tushie’. If only I had thought of using the dictionary, all would have been clear! Dictionaries continued to be yanked off elementary school shelves, keeping children from looking up words like ‘bed’ and ‘knockers’. As recently as 2010 the Menifee Union School District in California removed the Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 10th Edition because it included a definition or oral sex. I should think parents would have appreciated this. When I was in grade 3, Michael Paul said ‘fuck’ out loud in Hebrew School. We gasped and giggled, but Mrs. Rosenthal wrote it in huge letters, stretching the word across the entire board. Then under each letter she wrote more letters until the board read ‘fornication under consent of the king’. ‘You see”, she said, ‘ people who do this are just following the law. Good for them. Now on page six….. “. The titillation caused by hearing the word ‘fuck ‘ out loud in Hebrew school died immediately, killed by definition, and we were back to alef beit. In the big beautiful children’s section in the main branch of the Cincinnati Public Library, Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged sits open on a stand. You best believe I checked it out. Under ‘ball’ it defines ‘balls – slang – nonsense, often used to express disapproval, sometimes considered vulgar.’ And in the ‘o’ section, entries go from ‘oral plate’ to ‘oral surgeon’. According to the Global Language Monitor, as of January 1, 2017 there were 1,041,257.5 words in the English language. Currently there is a new word created every 98 minutes - about 14.7 words a day, so I will cut Merriam Webster some slack for having skipped over ‘oral sex.’

Where's Waldo


1985. ‘Where’s Waldo?’ makes a splash. Children countrywide hunched over 2-page spreads, combing through hundreds of tiny funny drawings of people in a zoo, in an airport, at an amusement park, searching for Waldo in his red and white striped hat with the red pompom.

Read More

...And so too did parents. And as an eagle-eyed mom in East Hampton, NY poured over a wacky beach scene she spied a female figure sunbathing on her stomach, torso lifted by one elbow, waving to another figure with her non-supporting arm. And this sunbather is not wearing a bikini top. There is a hint of side boob. And that is why, in 1993, Where’s Waldo? was banned from Springs Public Schools. But it was not only this one Long Island mom, for Where’s Waldo? was one of the top 100 banned books from 1990-2000.

Dictionary 1 and 2


1976 The American Heritage Dictionary is removed from school libraries in Anchorage, Alaska and Cedar Lake, Indiana because of its “objectionable language.”

Read More

...Throughout the decades, across the nation, schools were denying definitions to our kids because somewhere in America, a little boy looked up the word ‘ball’, found the plural slang definition as a part of the male anatomy and thought it was so funny that he went home and told his mom. If only I had been smart enough to check out the dictionary. When I was 6, Salpy Keleshian told me the way to make babies was to let a boy stick his thumb in your butt. This was very confusing to me, for while I was raised in a house that used the words vagina and penis, the only word I knew for that rear part of my anatomy was ‘tushie’. If only I had thought of using the dictionary, all would have been clear! And dictionaries continued to be yanked off elementary school shelves, keeping children from looking up words like ‘bed’ and ‘knockers’. As recently as 2010 the Menifee Union School District in California removed the Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 10th Edition because it included a definition or oral sex. I should think parents would have appreciated this. When I was in grade 3, Michael Paul said ‘fuck’ out loud in Hebrew School. We gasped and giggled, but Mrs. Rosenthal wrote it in huge letters, stretching the word across the entire board. Then under each letter she wrote more letters until the board read ‘fornication under consent of the king’. ‘You see”, she said, ‘ people who do this are just following the law. Good for them. Now on page six….. “. The titillation caused by hearing the word ‘fuck ‘ out loud in Hebrew school died immediately, killed by definition, and we were back to alef beit. In the big beautiful children’s section in the main branch of the Cincinnati Public Library, Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged sits open on a stand. You best believe I checked it out. Under ‘ball’ it defines ‘balls – slang – nonsense, often used to express disapproval, sometimes considered vulgar.’ And in the ‘o’ section, entries go from ‘oral plate’ to ‘oral surgeon’. According to the Global Language Monitor, as of January 1, 2017 there were 1,041,257.5 words in the English language. Currently there is a new word created every 98 minutes - about 14.7 words a day, so I will cut Merriam Webster some slack for having skipped over ‘oral sex.’

Harry Potter


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was banned over and over and over, almost always for religious reasons, but often from public schools and public libraries.

Read More

...There have been at least 6 official book burnings on record since 2002. 2009. Matt Latimer, former speechwriter for President George W Bush, claimed that during the Bush administration people successfully lobbied to deny JK Rowling the Presidential Medal of Freedom because her books encourage witchcraft. According to the ALA, the Harry Potter books are the most challenged books of the 21st century.

Captain Underpants


This was the most banned book for 2012 and 2013, beating out ’50 Shades of Gray.’

Read More

...It was banned for having a perceived gay character, for potty humor, for children playing tricks, for children disobeying, for children creative havoc, for offensive language – ie: potty talk – for anti-family content, for violence, for insensitivity and for encouraging children to challenge authority. In 2013 there were 307 attempts to remove or restrict Captain Underpants books from school curricula and libraries. The books are wildly popular with 9-year-old boys.