12 Books That Have (Ironically) Been Banned in the U.S.

September 24th through October 1st is Banned Books Week. In honor of the occasion, here is a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website.

Talk about an easy subject to research! It might have been easier to write up a "books that have never been banned anywhere" list. The banning of books seems so ridiculous, simplistic, and stupid to most of us. But man, in all his Jeckyll and Hyde glory, will all-too-often, when trying to solve a problem, come up with a solution much worse. This is "the 29th annual Banned Books Week." The week is used to condemn censorship and "thought police."

O.K., let's take a look at a brief (in the scheme of these things) list of books that have been (ironically) banned here in the U.S....

1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451 has to head this list of "ironic books banned." Why? Fahrenheit 451 is an entire novel about the future and the banning (and burning) of books. It was banned, ironically, because one of the books that eventually gets banned and burned is the Bible. Drawn your own conclusions, my (hopefully) intelligent readers.

2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain Mark Twain was a racist? A product of the times? Twain uses the bombshell "N" word so as to illustrate the awfulness of the word (and all its connotations). This vicious word is still, far and away, the most highly-charged and controversial word in the English language. So, the knee-jerk reaction is to ban the book. Or better still, as in more recent examples, issue the book with the "N" word cleverly edited out.

3. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger There isn't enough time to edit out all the examples of the expression "f*** you" being used in this one. Also banned because it promotes youthful rebellion and disrespect of authority. Catcher in the Rye was the book that guy was reading when he shot and killed John Lennon. So maybe if it were still banned...  hmmm, slippery slope, isn't it?

4. Where's Waldo? by Martin Handford Misprint, right? Uh, no. The very first Where's Waldo? book was, indeed, banned, because in one of the Where's Waldo? drawings a beach is shown featuring a woman lying on the sand with part of her breast showing. It was actually just a side view of her breast, with a penciled-in microscopic nipple shown. Do you realize the meticulous research and hours of time it must have taken whoever discovered this "offensive" character amidst all the thousands and thousands of characters featured in a Waldo book?

5. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank This is the incredible story of an ever-hopeful and ever-wistful young girl who is eventually killed in the Holocaust. In some ways, it is the ultimate example of the ever-classic theme of "Good vs. Evil." Or one very good person in the face of perhaps the greatest evil of the past several centuries. Yet despite her incredibly horrible enemies and fate, this remarkable teenage girl still believes in "the basic goodness of mankind." Banned by the Alabama State Textbook Committee in 1983 for being "a real downer."

6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Like our pal Huck Finn, this book has been banned because of the free-flowing use of the "N" word. And like Twain's book, it is used to paint an accurate picture of the period (and all its ignorance). It has been banned across America for "racial slurs" and for "promoting white supremacy." Also because a parent thought the way "blacks are treated by members of [the] white community in a way that would upset black children." Only ironic because never, but never, in the entire history of literature, has good and evil been so clearly portrayed and delineated. Real (not ersatz) racism is shown under a clear magnifying glass, in all its vicious cruelty. (As a sidebar, to those of you who do not like reading -definitely see the movie. To Kill a Mockingbird is without question one of the greatest movies ever made. One of those rare times "the movie is equally as great as the book it is based upon.")

7. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling The Harry Potter books are far and away the most banned books of the past decade. Extremely ironic in that the Harry Potter series has probably inspired more young people to read than all the Hooked on Phonics and Pizza Hut books in the world. Also one other point for all those people who have worked so tirelessly to ban these highly-popular books: strip away the magic and the Dr. Seuss creatures and the wizards and sorcerers, and ultimately the series boils down to the message that love, understanding, and tolerance are the most important things in the world.

8. Little Red Riding Hood (You can't make this stuff up, folks!) Little Red Riding Hood has been banned for the use of alcohol (one of the items in Red Riding Hood's basket is a bottle of wine).

9. Sleeping Beauty The fairy tale was banned for promoting witchcraft and magic.

10. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck This classic was banned for "vulgar language."

11. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh Why do I feel like I am writing a Monty Python sketch? Could there possibly be a more harmless, innocuous book than Harriet the Spy? O.K. this one was banned because it "teaches children to lie, spy, back-talk, and curse."

12. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe This book was banned in the South during the Civil War because of its anti-slavery content. Well, heck, that was over 150 years ago. Fortunately, as we all know, man has come a long way since those days of ignorance.

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LOL I just KNEW I'd find comments here about how awful the USA is just because a few books get banned at some time or another in some place or another at some point in time or another.

For pete's sake. What is so outrageous about wanting to be sure that schoolkids don't have access to just anything at their school libraries? If they really want to read a book that has been banned, they can get it at the local library, or, hey, what a crazy idea, ask their parents to buy it for them. Nothing that gets banned ever goes unread.

In fact, I don't think a few parents wanting to protect their children is such a bad thing. Why not take this as an opportunity to say that American parents look out for their children?

No, of course, commenters here are, for the most part, going to use this type of post to bash America.

Haters gonna hate.

As for linking book-burning to simple book-banning, wow, you are really going a little far. Americans aren't known for burning books much. When was the last time you saw a community burn books? Duh.

There is nothing inherently wrong with Christian parents worrying about their children reading books that bash Xtianity.

Again, just another excuse by commenters here to bash Xtians.

I'm sure atheist parents adore seeing their children read books that are pro-religion.

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For what it's worth, I immediately assumed the blog title meant what it actually meant - books that have, at one time or another, been banned in the US. :)

To those saying Iran and China are worse - yes, but we *expect* dictatorial censorship from dictators. We don't expect it from a country that celebrates its freedom of speech.

@Kevin George: I don't think the original meaning of the N word is offensive; it's offensive because of the way it's been used as a derogatory word, and now the word itself is a slur, regardless of original meaning.

I love how the people who ban these books are utterly missing the point of most of the books. An anti-racism book - let's ban it because it uses racist terms, albeit to show racism in a negative light!

Thanks for the article - an interesting read. :)
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I note some posts here saying only certain small authorities (schools, libraries, etc.) have banned these books and as such this does reflect upon the US authorities as a whole. Sorry, but I'm afraid it does. A nation that allows the banning of books by tin pot local dictatorships is just as bad as one where the central authority bans books.
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alxndr, this blog is not a government entity of any kind, it is a privately-owned website. The owner sets the rules for guests, and that means guests are warned not to attack other guests. It's like the rules you set in your home, which has nothing to do with censorship by a government entity like a public school or legislature. The free exchange of ideas is encouraged here. There is no need for name calling, which does not advance understanding or enlightenment. That's the way it is.

If someone comes into your home, even if you left the door open, and poops on your floor, you are not obliged to let it sit there in the name of free expression.
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