What the List of Most Banned Books Says About Our Society’s Fears

“A mind needs a book as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge.”
– George R. R. Martin

“Real books disgust the totalitarian mind because they generate uncontrollable mental growth – and it cannot be monitored.”[Bold Emphasis Added]
– John Taylor Gatto, A Different Kind Of Teacher, p. 82.

Source: Time.com
Sarah Begley
September 25, 2016

Censors are increasingly focusing on books that represent diverse points of view

For as long as humans have printed books, censors have argued over their content and tried to limit some books’ distribution. But the reasons for challenging literature change over time, and as Banned Book Week begins on Sept. 25, it’s clear that public discomfort with particular ideas has evolved rapidly even in the last 20 years.

When the American Library Association started keeping a database of challenged books in the early ’90s, the reasons cited were fairly straightforward, according to James LaRue, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. “‘Don’t like the language,’ or ‘There’s too much sex’—they’d tend to fall into those two categories,” he says. Some books are still challenged for those reasons—Fifty Shades of Grey is a common example. But there’s been a shift toward seeking to ban books “focused on issues of diversity—things that are by or about people of color, or LGBT, or disabilities, or religious and cultural minorities,” LaRue says. “It seems like that shift is very clear.”

The ALA’s list of the 10 most challenged books in 2015 bears this out: it includes I Am Jazz and Beyond Magenta, about young transgender people; Fun Home and Two Boys Kissing, which deal with homosexuality; Habibi and Nasreen’s Secret School, which feature Muslim characters; and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon, which was cited for “atheism.” In contrast, the top 10 most-challenged books of 2001 were more straightforwardly banned for strong language, sexual content and drugs, like The Chocolate War and Go Ask Alice.

The shift seems to be linked to demographic changes in the country—and the political fear-mongering that can accompany those changes, LaRue says. “There’s a sense that a previous majority of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants are kind of moving into a minority, and there’s this lashing out to say, ‘Can we just please make things the way that they used to be?’” LaRue says. “We don’t get many challenges by diverse people,” he adds. In recent years, book challenges have peaked while religious liberty bills were in the news, he says.

Here’s a look at how things have changed in the past 15 years:

Most-challenged books of 2001:

  1. Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling
    Reasons: anti-family, occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, violence
  2. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, unsuited to age group, violence
  3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  4. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Greene
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, sexually explicit
  6. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
    Reasons: offensive language, unsuited to age group
  7. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  8. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit
  9. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
    Reason: offensive language
  10. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
    Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

Most-challenged books of 2015:

  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
  6. The Holy Bible
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
    Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).

But the recent backlash challenges have not been limited to conservatives: the Bible is on the top 10 list for 2015, in part because of concerns about why a book that argues for the murder of homosexuals (as in Leviticus) would be in a public library. Opposition like this comes from “people that are just questioning in a larger sense what is the appropriate role of religion in our society,” LaRue says.

Over time, some books lose their opponents—the Harry Potter series, for instance, were the most-challenged books from 2000 to 2009, but have since fallen off the top 10 list. “There was a period there where Harry Potter was [considered] a Satanist and a cult, and people were doing book cuttings and book burnings,” LaRue says. “And now if you read people that are kind of on the right side of the religious spectrum, their kids love the Harry Potter books, so sometimes the things that we’re convinced are signs that the end is nigh are completely normalized in five years.”

The ALA usually learns that a book has been challenged either from librarians at schools or public or academic libraries calling in incidents, or from reports in local newspapers. In recent years there’s actually been a decline in reports—the ALA recorded 311 challenges in 2014 and only 275 in 2015. On the surface, that may seem like a good thing—but it probably indicates that fewer people are speaking up when a book is removed, meaning more banning is going on under the radar, LaRue says. “We have reason to believe that where censorship starts to succeed, there’s less reporting about it,” LaRue says. “So we can say it’s hard for us to know, we know that challenges are underreported, but we don’t know by how much.” It doesn’t help that school librarians are frequently the victims of school layoffs, meaning there are fewer professionals “trained to use this language of intellectual freedom.”

Still, one thing hasn’t changed since the dawn of censorship: having your book banned is very, very good for an author’s sales. “If what you’re trying to do is stop this book from getting into the hands of a minor,” LaRue says, “the surest way to [fail] is to declare it forbidden.”

Read More At: Time.com

Amateur Hour At #Starbucks – #HarryPotter Fans Trash Talk? Say What!? | #Creativity | #Imagination

“A prizefighter who gets knocked out or is badly outclassed suffers in a way he will never forget.”
– Floyd Patterson


Zy Marquiez
April 2, 2019

Very recently, I sat down at a Starbucks and immediately after sitting down the person next to me starts a conversation.  I go onto to ask what she is reading and so on, and she tells me Harry Potter.  She happened to be rereading Harry Potter for the umpteenth time (her quote).  I go on and state that the entire series has been sitting on my desk for years, unread…

…and this is where the battle ensues.  No warning, no flash of lightning, no puff of smoke, nothing.  She unleashes an automatic grenade launcher of Rambo-like trash talk – grenade after grenade, explosion after explosion, trash talking like you wouldn’t believe.

The conversation was like two people playing hot potatoes, except, with live grenades, and, you don’t know its hot potato.  NOT ONLY DOES SHE KEEP LOBBING GRENADES MY WAY, BUT THEY’RE LIVE AND BEFORE I CAN DITCH THE FIRST ONE, THE SECOND GRENADE’S INCOMING, AND THE THIRD, AND…..

…it doesn’t stop there.  It was so relentless I felt like a fledgling, a rank amateur of the first order.

In fact, I felt like a submarine, unarmed without any torpedoes (and all I needed was ONE to sink that cruiser!) going at 1 knot, while she kept lobbing depth charges by the dozens from her cozy Battle Cruiser from above.  Yeah, the fish in a barrel thought never had a more accurate representation, truly.

She talked the most serious trash – and was quite good at it, and she knew it – that I have ever seen any Harry Potter fan talk.  In fact, of anybody, ever.  Believe me, believe me, I’ve heard good trash talking, great in rare circumstances.  But the tornado she unleashed on me left me seriously outclassed in every single way.  I only hung by a thread and that’s because I kept throwing analogies at her from myriad directions and thankfully enough stuck that the conversation became hilarious and fun.  By orders of magnitude she blew out of the water every single Harry Potter’s fans trash talking.  She, like Yoda, was in a realm of her own.

Where some of the better trash talking Harry Potter fans would bring a fleet – an ARMADA – of Tai Fighters to a fight, she’d just park a fleet of Death Stars in Orbit around you, NOT LOCKING ONTO YOU, THE PLANETARY TARGET, ON PURPOSE (that would be too easy, way too easy).  She would simply fire shot after shot across your bow, not to destroy you, no.  Just to make a pointIt hurt, it really did.  Someone forgot to tell my ego not to jump in a pool of gasoline and try and juggle fire thereafter.

While the average Harry Potter fan – that I’ve met anyways – can be a bit reserved, though a joy to talk too, she was the perfect mix of fairy dust, and Deadshot.  Capable of sprinkling imagination via trash talking like it was rain, but, with trash talking skills that would make any professional marksmen proud.

You want another analogy?  Why not, we’re on a roll here.  I felt like a child walking into Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen serving an overcooked burger.  That’s a fantastic bundle of 20 mistakes all wrapped into one enormous one.  Choosing to impress Gordon Ramsey with a burger?  Mistake #1.  Overcooking it?  OVERCOOKING A BURGER?  (Mistakes 2 through 20).

Verbal Jui-Jitsu was never practiced at Strabucks with more efficiency.

Why is all this relevant?  BECAUSE THE WHOLE CONVERSATION WAS BASED AROUND IMAGINATION.  (Sorry about the autopilot capslock – I still feel like I’m yelling at her.  Just kidding.  We didn’t yell at each other, not even a little bit.)  Many wouldn’t consider trash talking an exercise in imagination, but you’ll never know what you will imagine until your pinned against the wall, and pressure lets you know exactly what you’re made of, whether its trash talking, or any other circumstance in life.

And the pressure of letting a HARRY POTTER FAN SMASH YOU TO PIECES INTO THE GROUND, kicking you over and over and over, OH, THE TERROR.  But seriously, hanging from a thread never felt more glorious in my lifeA THREAD I TELL YOU!  I couldn’t wait for anybody, ANYBODY, to save me from drowning.  But the verbal sparing match began, and I wasn’t about to back away – no matter how bad I was getting run over.  (You learn something new every day in life.  Today?  I learned what road kill feels like.)

Speaking of hanging by a thread, you think she would let me balance on that thread?  NOPE!  Walking the tightrope was never an option, not an option whatsoever.  She made me hang by a thread and she was enjoying it.  Thankfully I didn’t fall into an untimely death – but at least I have a newfound respect for Harry Potter fans.  (REJOICE!)

Back to imagination: have you ever been under pressure, regardless of the circumstance, and had imagination bail you out in ways you didn’t think possible?  I’m sure you have, but perhaps never thought of it as imagination and were merely going on instinct.  Instinct or not, it’s irrelevant, for if you can’t imagine something, you can’t make it true. 

This is why imagination is crucial, for it offers many solutions an individual might have never considered.

And while the above was merely an exercise in trash talking (or pretending on my part), the point remains: if you ever end up facing an obstacle – whether it is foreseen or not – having the latitude to employ imagination and intellectual faculties in myriad ways can save your neck.

You want to know how the story ends?  NO WAY I TELL YOU.  You sadistic, masochistic person you!  WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU.  Who likes seeing a person drown!  SHAME ON YOU.

Ya’ll need to go back to work – or whatever it is ya’ll are doing – and go imagine yourself walking your happy selves off of a….

Okay okay, I need to relaxWoozaMy mind screams: mindfulness mindfulness mindfulness!  She is gone, after all (Or is she?).  But the remnants of the devastation she unleashed and has left in her wake?  Oh, no.  Never.  Those will echo into eternity…

…just like imagination.

Who would have thought a Harry Potter fan could toy with someone’s soul like Shang Sung, from Mortal Kombat?  Never in a million years! 



Suggested Reading:

What Do You Find Inspiring?
Consciously Creating The Road Of Change, The World Of Tomorrow
Wings Are Made To Fly, Seeds Are Made To Grow
Have You Ever Walked On The Moon?
The Opening Salvo, The First Minute
The Seeds Of Today, The World Of Tomorrow
Piercing Perspectives #1: Taking Things For Granted | Health & Mindset

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About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, inquirer, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, and freelance writer who aims at empowering individuals while also studying and regularly mirroring subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.