SparkNotes Blog

Censorship Fail: School Bans Seven Books, Students Get Books Un-Banned

A high school in Texas just un-banned seven books from the library and classroom instruction, which were initially banned over concerns about references to sex, abortion, rape, and other HIGHLY OBJECTIONABLE CONTENT.

Highland Park ISD originally “suspended” the books after pressure from a group of parents (books can be suspended—they’re just like us!). After the suspension, a group of students, parents, and alumni worked to reverse the suspension of the books, gathering over 2,000 signatures on their online petition.

The superintendent, Dawson Orr, apologized for the suspension, saying:

I made the decision in an attempt to de-escalate the conflict, and I readily admit that it had the opposite effect. I take full responsibility for the decision, and I apologize for the disruption it has caused.

Seems like Orr originally acquiesced to the ban-happy parents’ demand to suspend the books, in order to shut them up and close the issue. Unfortunately, CENSORSHIP IS LAME. In trying to quickly close the issue, he just created an even bigger storm, attracting national (AND SPARKNOTES) attention.

The suspended books were:

The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David K. Shipler

Supposedly objectionable content: poverty, rape, abortion

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Supposedly objectionable content: SEX, prostitutes, sex

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Supposedly objectionable content: racism?

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Supposedly objectionable content: THOSE DANG MEAN KATHERINES, sex?, life

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

Supposedly objectionable content: bad childhood (?), poverty, mental illness

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Supposedly objectionable content: sex, incest, poverty, SWEARZ

 Which isn’t to say that incest, racism, abortion, or any of the other topics (such as MEAN KATHERINES) are anything to make light of, or to be read by a too-young or unprepared audience. However, this is life, book-suspending parents. Life has incest, racism, abortion, curse words, and a variety of both mean and nice Katherines. Banning books that talk about it doesn’t ban the topic from life. (Though that would be really cool. Can we ban books about bacne and the wage gap? Thanks.)

Students should be able to read about this stuff, learn what it means, and how to discuss it. Learning about these things is the only way to get closer to banning them IRL.

Have you read any of the banned books? Has your school tried any of this nonsense?

[h/t Dallas News]