The noble moral crusaders of Tennessee’s McMinn County School Board have voted unanimously to remove Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel “Maus” from its English language curriculum, purportedly over concerns that the earnest and agonizing depiction of Polish Jews (cartoon mice) surviving the Nazis (cartoon cats) contains profanity and brief nudity.
Of drawn animals. (Though these are some of the same people who mock liberals for barring “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” because it contains the N-word, they and the censoring progressives are clearly kissing cousins.)
School board members would apparently prefer their wrenching narratives of persecution, loss, perseverance and the callousness and sadism of which mankind is capable to avoid any icky use of bad words. We understand, and in that vein would like to suggest some additional texts for consideration in the pantheon of shame.
Herman Melville’s classic depiction of a man’s lifelong vendetta against a white whale sends a bad message to kids about coexistence. Shakespeare can get quite raunchy (”Did you think I meant country matters?” quoth Hamlet); and there’s an awful lot of blood and death and witches — positively frightening stuff, and indulgent of the occult. The kids in “Lord of the Flies” set a pretty terrible example; and “To Kill a Mockingbird” depicts a sex crime and some themes that can be disturbing to Alabamians.
And don’t get us started on “Brave New World,” the story of a censorious society where reading material is tightly controlled by fanatical bureaucrats who want to eliminate even the possibility that citizens might experience any discomfort or question their social environment. (Can you even imagine living in a world like that?)
All in all, it’s clear that we’ve been much too permissive in the books that we allow our teachers to teach and students to use. Children must be protected from these destructive texts. Perhaps students should be steered to the most wholesome book imaginable — one with no violence or nudity or vengeance in it, one all true conservatives embrace. Have you heard of the Bible?