Thursday, June 4, 2009

Banned,Censored, Challenged: To Kill A Mockingbird

Inspired by the infamous trial of the Scottsboro boys, To Kill A Mockingbird (1960) by Harper Lee is one of the most frequently challenged books in America.

From the ALA:

"Challenged in Eden Valley, Minn. (1977) and temporarily banned due to words "damn" and "whore lady" used in the novel. "

"Challenged in the Vernon Verona Sherill, N.Y School District (1980) as a "filthy, trashy novel:"

"Challenged at the Warren, Ind.Township schools (1981) because the book ... "represents institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature:"

"[Challenged, unsuccessfully] in the Casa Grande, Ariz. Elementary School District (1985), despite the protests by black parents and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People who charged the book was unfit for junior high use."

Give me a break.
If you've read the novel you know the context of the "bad" words. As with the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the "n" word usage is taken out of context in this challenge. Banning the word "nigger" is futile anyway, the kind of freedom of speech infringement that comes with good, but deadly,intentions. How can you ban a word when you haven't treated the thoughts behind the word?

If one decides that writing about institutionalized racism "represents institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature" (?) then how will students learn about it?

Answer: they won't.
This explains the number of brutally ignorant people walking around. It explains some of my own ignorance. Probably some of yours, too. There is so much that we were never taught because of decorum, complaisance & the emphasis on 'good (i.e conformed, unoriginal) behavior'.

If something evil came for my books in the middle of the night, this is one of the ones it would have to pry from my cold dead fingers.

I first read To Kill A Mockingbird when I was 12. It was recommended to me by my Great Grandmother and became part of my mental awakening, sparking social consciousness and opening my mind to what literature could be. It teaches the fallacy of prejudice, the false premise & flawed conclusions of prejudice.

Prejudice is wrong because with it society can devalue men like Tom Robinson & Boo Radley for the sake of animals like Bob Ewell.

I understand why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird. Maybe the NAACP can learn this, too.


Athena. said...

I love this book,
and yes, you learn so much from it,
about society in general and social conciousness.

Jam said...

They seriously tried to ban it? Amazing what people will label as bad literature.

Cecile said...

First, let me say that I am new your place... I hope you don't mind. =)
Second... I love your place!

Now... I do admire your post! This one in particular... because believe it or not... (I wish I could recall the name of the book) But my daughter and I went to the Dollar General one day... as we were shopping, they had a cute book I saw there for $1... yes, ONE dollar. So, I put it in the cart. Well, we go to check out and the cashier calls the manager over... (crowd starting to build behind me)... I get told that they book has been banned and I am not allowed to buy it. I freak. We purchased our goods and left... both of us STUNNED that we just got told that a book was banned... at the Dollar General!!!! WTH!!!!

I read To Kill A Mockingbird in my high school years and loved it!! Now, as an adult.. I was at a thirft store and found it... and you guessed it.. I am now a proud owner of it! Also, The Catcher In The Rye!

Oh, and I LOVE the chair in the previous post!!! I want one... don't have room in my small house... but I want one!!!
Hope you are having a great day!

Yvette Kelly said...

I have never read this book but I always see it on other people's fave books list so it must be good right?I am going to look into it!

Website Re Design said...

It is really nice book we can learn from this book

Rebecca :) said...

I don't know if you know this about me but I cannot stand banning books. Even more than that I can't stand that it still goes on.

In my opinion the people who challenge them are afraid of new ideas and encourage the sheltering of themselves and their children. It should be a crime to keep a book with a subject matter this important out of the hands of children because of objectionable language.

And people should know that racism like this exists in the world and still does. I am not scared that because I am white everyone that reads this book will think I am racist. How ignorant. The main characters in the book were not racist. And anyone who would come to such a conclusion is equally ignorant, in my opinion, to those who are racist in the first place.

Sorry, went off on a tangent. :)

Darce said...

I am reading this book at the moment actually. I am currently in high school and it is required reading for me. I was interested as to how many schools have actually banned this book so I decided to look it up. Upon reading, it became clear to me the complete ignorance of practically everybody around us, Do people not realize the real usage of the "n" word in this novel? I don't think it would be the same without that, nor "whore lady" etc. Lee didn't use these words to offend anybody, she used them because she knew more people could actually relate to the story and everything. If people aren't mature enough to understand this, then they shouldn't be reading it, and those that find this offensive, you aren't being forced to read it, you can always say no, but please let the rest of us enjoy an amazing novel. :)