28 votes

Tennessee school board bans Holocaust graphic novel ‘Maus’ – author Art Spiegelman condemns the move as ‘Orwellian’

9 comments

  1. [3]
    mat
    Link
    While it's going too far to say I like books being banned, it does seem that banning books often has the opposite effect to that which was intended, and is getting kids reading things they...

    While it's going too far to say I like books being banned, it does seem that banning books often has the opposite effect to that which was intended, and is getting kids reading things they otherwise might not have picked up.

    The more people read Maus, the better. It's a hard, hard read. It's harrowing and painful and depressing as hell and everyone should read it, ideally at a formative age, because books like Maus are one way we stop Nazis happening.

    16 votes
    1. kfwyre
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      EDIT: I’m about-facing on what I said here previously. I saw this and, assuming it’s true, have changed my mind on this sort of thing being “mostly symbolic”. I realize this tweet is referring to...

      EDIT: I’m about-facing on what I said here previously. I saw this and, assuming it’s true, have changed my mind on this sort of thing being “mostly symbolic”. I realize this tweet is referring to a completely different district than the one in the article, but it was a necessary reminder of how damaging this sort of thing can be, especially once its scope goes beyond one specific book.

      Also, for those unfamiliar with the books on the list, many of them are there simply because they reference LGBT people. The 57 Bus, for example, has nothing sexual in it and is in fact about an actual hate-crime that happened in Oakland where a one teenager set fire to the dress worn by an agender teenager on a city bus while they were asleep. Drama has been one of the most challenged books for years now and it’s incredibly mild. Its only “crime” is having LGBT characters.

      The same goes for anti-racist books. Stamped in particular is excellent and I’d recommend the YA version to even adults. The National Book Award-winning adult version, written by Ibram X. Kendi, is very good but very long and very dense. The YA version is a “remix” of the book by Jason Reynolds (one of the most prolific and talented YA authors we have right now) and he takes that density and makes it much more accessible, shortening it down and giving more contour and emphasis that makes the main takeaways stand out much more clearly.

      ADDITIONAL EDIT: The list in the tweet is apparently not the full list, which is here.

      To add on to this, separate from the Streisand effect is the idea that banning books in this day and age is much more of a symbolic action than a practical one. I guarantee you that any student in that district who wants to read it could find a copy online easily. Students these days are no strangers to getting what they want from the internet. Banning Maus might remove it from their libraries' shelves, but it doesn't make it inaccessible to them in the slightest. (EDIT: This is actually a bit hasty and presumptuous of me to say. I don’t know the community this happened in but if it is one without widespread internet access, then it definitely has a non-negligible effect.)

      That's not to say that the action is fruitless though. Book bannings like this are often intimidation tactics that effectively force librarians to quietly remove other books from their shelves out of a fear of challenges/pushback/repercussions.

      And I wholeheartedly agree with you on the book. I've taught Maus before. It's powerful.

      9 votes
    2. inwardpath
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      At first when hearing about all this I held the "Streisand effect" view but I've since come to realize that for every Maus that sells out, plenty of other books on the list are ignored. I've seen...

      At first when hearing about all this I held the "Streisand effect" view but I've since come to realize that for every Maus that sells out, plenty of other books on the list are ignored. I've seen a lot of posts lately on social media talking about how the ban can actually help get more readers for books, and that's an easily line of thought to glom onto- but I feel like it's wrong once you sit with it for a while.

      I've always believed the ban was bad, but now understand not to have a false perception that the ban will do good in some accidental way (silver lining, so to speak).

      Without active opposition to the bans and ways to make the ban moot, many of these books will be out of the hands and eyes of those that should have access to them. Getting the bans repealed or prevented is the big thing- but I have tried to think of other ways to combat this. One was something like this: crowdsource a billboard or ad placements in general that list a bunch of banned books- so that regardless of authority figures- it will make it in front of many eyes

      Maybe make a website dedicated to listing books and links to acquire them and advertise that? My mind always starts churning when stuff like this happens.

      3 votes
  2. [4]
    lou
    Link
    I read this book as a kid, and it was so important for me to understand the human cost of war. This is not a book that should be banned.

    I read this book as a kid, and it was so important for me to understand the human cost of war. This is not a book that should be banned.

    10 votes
    1. [3]
      cmccabe
      Link Parent
      I like mat's point that banning books may simply attract more attention to them. It looks like interest in Maus is spiking on Google Trends at least for now. I'm not sure if Amazon publishes...

      I like mat's point that banning books may simply attract more attention to them. It looks like interest in Maus is spiking on Google Trends at least for now. I'm not sure if Amazon publishes similar trend data for books, but that would be really interesting to see.

      4 votes
      1. [2]
        lou
        Link Parent
        Sure. I'm not sure if a sudden spike in interest is enough to undo the effects of a state-wide ban, though.

        Sure. I'm not sure if a sudden spike in interest is enough to undo the effects of a state-wide ban, though.

        6 votes
        1. cfabbro
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I doubt the spike in interest is focused in Tennessee either. And since most of the kids in that district will likely remain unaware of the ban, nothing positive is likely to come of this for...

          I doubt the spike in interest is focused in Tennessee either. And since most of the kids in that district will likely remain unaware of the ban, nothing positive is likely to come of this for them, even with the increased national attention.

          6 votes
  3. cmccabe
    Link
    MoveOn.org has a petition related to this, for any of you interested.

    MoveOn.org has a petition related to this, for any of you interested.

    2 votes