Mostly, parents are well-intentioned and just looking out for the best interests of their children. But sometimes, in doing that, they make themselves look like paranoid prudes who would rather their kids live in a bubble than be exposed to anything they consider less than savory.
In just such a case, a woman in Michigan has filed a formal complaint that the version of The Diary of Anne Frank being read in her local middle school is inappropriate and pornographic. Discounting the fact that it was written by someone almost exactly the age of those reading it, she’s decided she just can’t have her kids reading any naughty words.
While the insistence on censoring a book always seems like a ridiculous venture, it certainly isn’t a new one.
In yet another case of critics railing against a book and simultaneously proving the author’s point, George Orwell’s 1984 has long been one of the most banned books of our time. The 1948 novel chronicles the life of Winston Smith, a man living in a totalitarian society in the year 1984. The book is a clear warning against surveillance, loss of personal freedoms and censorship, but that somehow hasn’t stopped anyone from trying to censor it because apparently, irony is just too big a word to grasp.
4 Catcher in the Rye
J.D. Salinger’s famous novel about teenage angst has always been a favorite for book censors to pick on. The ironic thing, the book’s protagonist Holden Caulfield would have taken one look at the complaints of the book’s detractors, and immediately called them all out for being “phonies.” The 1951 book was the most banned between 1966-1975, and has been consistently banned in the decades since, with angry parents and teachers claiming that it is anti-white, explicitly pornographic and even part of a Communist plot.
3 Harry Potter
Yes, over-zealous parents have targeted even that poor bespectacled kid on the broom. In fact, the Harry Potter books were the most banned/challenged books over the course of the last ten years. While they may seem like innocent fantasy books to most (most being sane, rational people), some parents and communities lashed out at them for promoting witchcraft, Satanism and violence. To put this in perspective, it’s roughly the equivalent of banning Garfield books for glorifying obesity and promoting anti-Monday sentiments.
2 Fahrenheit 451
The fact that anyone has ever tried to ban or censor the quintessential book on the dangers of censorship, just points a glaring light on the ignorance of its critics. Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel takes place in a world where free thought is banned and books were burned to help prevent it, but in response to the coarse language and bible burning in the book, it has actually become the target of the very thing it warns us against. The whole thing’s pretty Meta, really.
1 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain’s famous tale of Huckleberry Finn has encountered detractors since the day it was published, and over a century later, it is still a point of controversy. In 2011, a new version of the book was released in which the 200+ occurrences of the N-word were removed and replaced with the word “slave.” Because somehow, taking out the dirty word that was actually used at the time, and instead referring to a character that was literally bought and sold like an animal as “Slave Jim,” is somehow less offensive.