Thursday, May 28, 2015

Too Racy to Read: Censorship on the Grounds of "Adult Content"

Book banning is probably one of the most ludicrous things anyone could ever do. A lot of school officials, parents, and community leaders site "political incorrectness" and "adult content" as reasons for prohibiting students from accessing certain books, like this school in Texas.

Below is a chart citing some of the various reasons books have been challenged in the United States.

Let's take a look at some of those books that were too racy to read because of their "adult content."

1. Beloved by Toni Morrison

A frequent go-to for literature teachers at both the high school and college level, Beloved has been banned from many libraries because of the violence, sexual content, and discussions of bestiality in the book. Two of the most notable scenes containing sexual violence would have to be the "breakfast" scene with Paul D and the "milk" scene with Sethe.

2. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

Also a classic, many schools banned The Grapes of Wrath because of profanity and sexual content. Rife with "goddamn's," many people find the book to be particularly offensive because of the final scene with Rosasharn, in which Rosasharn feeds a dying man from her milk-full breasts.

3. Howl by Allen Ginsberg

Ginsberg took a page from Whitman's Leaves of Grass when writing Howl: many people have banned this book of poetry because of Ginsberg's vivid description of homosexual acts.

4. Native Son by Richard Wright

Native Son follows the story of a Black Chicago-native chauffeur who accidentally murders his white boss. This book has been removed or banned in over eight states in the US because of "violent and sexually graphic content." 

5. Looking for Alaska by John Green

Many schools have fought to ban this book by contemporary author John Green, primarily because of its pseudo-masturbation scene. Many would-be-banners have even gone so far as to call Green a "pornographer" because the book is about teens and marketed to teens.

Watch John Green defend the content of his book

"I Am Not A Pornographer" feat. author John Green.

Read more about banned books that shaped America.

What are your thoughts on banning books based on "adult content?" Should certain books be withheld from students/young people because of their assumed maturity levels?

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