Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Banning Books in Texas

Dallas, Texas
It's Banned Books Week in the United States and Highland Park Independent School District in Dallas has generously provided an immediate example proving that book banning is alive and well in 2014. Seven books have been "temporarily removed from classrooms." Those books are:
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Alexie's autobiographical novel won the National Book Award.
  • An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. Green's novels have earned a Printz and an Edgar award.
  • Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. Hesse won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1946.
  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. Morrison has won both the Pulitzer and the Nobel Prize.
  • The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David K. Shipler. Shipler was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, and won a Pulitzer for General Nonfiction. 
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.
  • The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls. Walls' book won the Christopher Award, the American Library Association's Alex Award and the Books for Better Living Award.
In addition, Highland Park High School may be looking for an alternative keynote speaker for their upcoming literary festival because they just yanked her book from the approved reading list. Yep. Jeanette Walls told the Dallas Morning News she was "heartbroken" over the decision to pull her book from the district's reading list. "What I worry is that in order to protect [students], we may be taking away the tools they need to protect themselves later on,” Walls said.

I'd like to point out that six of these books are objected to because of the usual: sex and language. However, complaints about The Working Poor included allegations that it was "anti-capitalism" and complaints about Siddhartha included its Buddhist philosophy. At that point we are banning ideas. As for the parent who suggested that the district abandon modern literature, I would suggest they read Shakespeare and Homer. If they've already read them then they weren't paying attention.

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