Protecting Our Children from Lesbians and Sherlock Holmes: Two U.S. School Districts Get a Jump on Banned Books Week

Two posts on recent cases of censorship in school districts:

Haruki Murakami Yanked from School District Reading List

Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood was removed from a New Jersey school district required reading lists, days before classes were scheduled to begin for the year. Apparently, this book and Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines “were both pulled from the list after parents complained about their gay sex scenes.”

Now I can’t speak for Tweak, but Norewegian Wood is on my bookshelf at home, although I haven’t read this particular Murakami title yet. However, based on other books of his that I’ve read, I have to assume that this is a rather knee-jerky bunch of censors. I’m guessing that most of the book is about a lonely man (perhaps a woman) with a love of at least one, if not more, of the following things: jazz, Anglo pop culture, and/or whiskey. Occasionally, I might also guess, s/he pines after someone younger than him, while other times, s/he talks to a particularly receptive cat. Devastating for young minds, I’m sure. Has anyone read this (or Tweak) who might care to comment?

Elsewhere, (via GalleyCat, which was itself via New York Magazine) a Virginia school district has removed “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, the author’s first Sherlock Holmes novel, from sixth-grade reading lists after a parent complained that it was anti-Mormon.” Apparently, the book will still be available for older students. GalleyCat has helpfully linked to a free copy of the book on the Project Gutenberg website. Because as we all know, nothing makes a book more popular than trying to ban it.

And apropos of book banning leading to popularity, check out this recent Unshelved comic strip: http://www.unshelved.com/2011-8-24

Banned Books Week runs from September 24 – October 1 this year.

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