Profanity/Hogs Mating

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I work as a teacher for Duval County Public Schools. Last week, a 15 page document titled “Alphabetical Listing of Multimedia Material Reevaluated in Duval County” was dropped off in my mailbox; I’m not sure exactly why. The document lists well over 250 books, magazines, videos, and albums that were “reevaluated” due to complaints. Some of these books are frequent guests on the censorship block (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, “Racial,” Catcher in the Rye, “Offensive Language,” Are You There God? It’s Me, Margeret, “Religious, Sex, Introduction to Pornography,” As I Lay Dying “Profanity/Racial Slur”) and some are destined to be under scrutiny for a long time (Harry Potter, entire series, “Witchcraft, Occult, Spellcasting”). As you might expect, the dominant complaints revolve around profanity, sex, and a general sense that the book doesn’t fit in to the complainant’s worldview. Here are a few favorites of mine:

Goosebumps Series, R.L Stine — “Scary” (Yes. Correct. They’re supposed to be scary, jackass).Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond — “Bestiality/Darwinian evolution” (Natch–bestiality and Darwinian evolution go together like PB & J).

Halloween, Joyce K. Kessell — “Evil, Full of Lies” (Ach! Oh no! A fiction book that doesn’t tell the truth!)

The Butter Battle Book, Dr. Seuss — “Violence” (Admittedly, The Butter Battle Book was the peak of Seuss’s “Tarantino phase”)

Four Good Friends, Margaret Hillert — “Negative, Nonproducive tone” (What the fuck is a “Nonproducive tone”? What does that even mean?)

In the Night Kitchen, Maurice Sendak — “Nudity” (This charming kid’s book repeatedly lands on the Most Frequently Challenged Books List)

Learning to Swim, Ann Turner — “Erotic and Sexual Nature” (Erotic and sexual? Intriguing…)

A Light in the Attic, Shel Silverstein — “Illustrations” (Huh? “Illustrations”? Huh? This book is actually right by me, my childhood copy, proudly shelved on the mantle…let’s review these nefarious illustrations…let’s see, let’s see…An Icarian hippo, perhaps? An unscratchable itch?Rhino pen? Nah…Is it perhaps, the “Union for Children’s Rights” picture (pgs 140-141 in my 1981 Harper & Row edition)? Gotta be…unionized kids…scary!)

Kid in the Red Jacket, Barbara Park — “”Stupid” and “God”” (Again, I ask “Huh?”)

Little Red Riding Hood, Paul Galdone — “Violence/Wine” (Two of my favorite things!)

Marijuana, Martin Godfrey — “Drugs” (Really? Who knew Marijuana would contain “drugs”)

Matilda, Roald Dahl — “Vulgar, Unethical” (This is one of my favorite books. Attempting to suppress it and keep kids from reading it is both vulgar and unethical)

Our Country Spain, David Cumming — “Mediterranean Beach Picture” (Good lord no!)

The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde — “Morality” (What is the problematic “morality” of Dorian Gray? Or did the offended parent have a problem with Oscar’s proclivities for the lovely youths?)

Santa Claus Mystery, John Godman — “Conflict w/ Santa Myth” (I wish they’d be more specific–what’s the conflict? Is there a “set” Santa myth? What is it?)

Tar Baby, Toni Morrison — “Sex, Violence, Myth” (Myth? Really? Myth is offensive?)

The Visitors Who Came to Stay, A. McAffee and A. Browne — “Pictures” (Again, please, be specific when you want to ban a book. “Pictures” simply won’t cut it)

Where is Gah-Ning, Robert Munsch — “Blatant disregard for moral standard” (Okay, that’s a little more specific, I guess–but still asinine).

Which Witch, Eva Ibboston; The Witches, Roald Dahl; Witches, Witches, Witches, Helen Hoke; Witches, Rhoda Blumberg; The Witches of Worm, Z. Keatley Snyder; The Witch’s Handbook, Malcolm Bird — “Witchcraft, Occult” (Duh)

Worry Worts, Morris Gleitzman — “Sexual Context” (I wonder if this book is about STDs…)

A Day No Pigs Would Die, Robert Newton — “Profanity/Hogs Mating” (Sounds like a party to me!)

6 thoughts on “Profanity/Hogs Mating”

  1. i can see the local chapter of repressed religious fanatics in a frenzied pants down circle jerk around a copy of Where the Wild Things Are. these people are truly pathetic.

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  2. Where is the violence in The Butter Battle Book? Weapons, yes, but no blood is shed, and no one dies. I used to read that to my students to help them understand the Cold War and nuclear weapons buildup.

    So if the books haven’t been officially banned, what’s the point of the list?

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  3. Leah, as a former DCPS teacher, I’m astounded that you can presume that there *is* a point to anything they do.
    I think the message implicit in the list was “avoid using these in the classroom.”

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