As I traveled through the middle of nowhere the other day, the car’s radio dial rested upon a National Public Radio Program titled, “The Takeaway.” Part of the show focused upon the procedure to ban books. The show’s host discussed the topic with three guests:
- Mike Holzknecht, a lawyer and parent who was part of the opposition to the book “The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexi.
- Sarah Pacheco, Public Information Officer for the Sierra Vista Unified School District; and
- Amy Crump, Library Director at Homewood Public Library in Illinois.
While the program was interesting, I became fixated upon the segment discussing censorship, including of the book “The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexi.” In truth, I never heard of this banned book, so a quick internet search revealed a few schools who’ve banned this publication.
According to well published sources, censorship may have begun around 2010 in Stockton, MO where a resident(s) supported banning The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian for containing material too mature for children. The New York Daily News reported middle schoolers at Public School 114 in Rockaway, Queens, wouldn’t be reading Sherman Alexie’s prized illustrated novel either. The school caved to pressure from at least one angry parent and phone calls from a tabloid (newspaper). The book was also removed from reading lists in Oregon and Washington as well. It was banned by Washington’s Richland School District—until board members actually read the book and reversed their decision.
In Stockton, MO, local media outlets indicated the author’s book may not have reflected community values. And while specific citations remain elusive, reports indicate supporters citing “… Biblical references.” Stockton residents also listed book descriptions of masturbation, sexual language and foul jokes, along with themes encompassing racism, alcoholism and violence.
Man … that must be one badass book.
Some may justifiably argue that not every child is emotionally mature to handle the content. Thus, it should be a parent’s decision of how much information is provided to their children. Fair enough. While those with such opposing views may have a point, I remember a similar badass book a lot of parents freely give their children. Here are just a few themes:
- 4 Kings 2:23-24 – Don’t make fun of bald people or two female bears may eat you
- Genesis 38:8-10 – Neologism – hidden reference to onanism, an archaic term for masturbation
- Judges 19:22-30 – Unwilling to let guests be rapped, so owner throws his daughters to the crowd
- Found in: 1 Kings 18:25-27 – David kills two hundred men to gather foreskins
- Exodus 33:23 – Exhibitionism, God exposed his back parts to Moses
- Numbers 22:28-30 – A talking donkey
- Genesis 1:28 – God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” So (1 Chronicles 1) Adam begat Seth, Seth begat Enosh, Enosh begat Kenan, Mahalaleel, Jered … etc., etc. Question, who did Cain and Able marry? Maybe … sisters?
- Genesis 19:30-36 – Lot has drunken sex with daughters (i.e., incest)
- Genesis 29:21-28 – Jacob takes a job where payment is a woman (so much for women’s rights)
- Judah 38:8-10 – Judah said to Onan, go marry your brother’s wife and get her pregnant
- Genesis 38:15-16 – The prostitute I has sex with turned out to be my daughter (i.e., another quality relationship)
- Solomon’s Song: A complete sexual love letter
- 2 Kings 6:24–7:20 – Cannibalism
- Exodus 21 – Gives advice on how to sell your daughter (so much for women’s rights)
- 2 Samuel 11 – King David’s Adultery and Murder of Uriah just to get Uriah’s wife
- Ephesians 6:5 – Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ (So your master is Christ?)
- Leviticus 19:20-22 – If a man rapes his female slave … the woman gets punished and the man’s sins are forgiven
- 1 Corinthians 11:3-9 – God over Christ, Christ is over man, and man is over woman. After all man was not created for woman, but woman was created for man
- Judges 21:12 – Basically, young virgins are considered a spoil of war and can be taken for the use of the victors
- Deuteronomy 25:10 – Ladies, a man has an obligation to produce a child for his widowed sister-in-law (ladies, I guess you just have to deal with it)
- Mark 10:29 – Man who leaves his house, wife, brothers, parents, or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will receive special rewards
In complete transparency, I admit to having never read Sherman Alexi’s book. And in truth, I’ll be damned if I could find any published articles reflecting Stockton, MO’s community values. A Google keyword search of “Stockton, MO community values” revealed little. But I didn’t spend a lot of time researching either.
Still … should one go to their local community and demand the Bible be banned from all schools and public libraries? I mean the “Good Book” does have “… hidden references to masturbation, rape, murder, sexual language, racism, alcoholism and violence.” Or should we just allow future generations to ask their parents how to properly spill their seed on the ground (“onanism?)” Bet you never hear that sermon Sunday morning. Ah … there’s nothing like having your children snuggle up with a good book on a rainy day!
Seriously, let’s stop hiding and call it what it is: censorship. And some forms of censorship can be filled with cocky snide remarks, intemperance and self-congratulatory smiles. When this occurs, it’s a play to the gallery. While some believe proper censorship protects the community, many forms of censorship are simply subjective intolerance and self-imposed righteousness.
It’s strange how liberal conservatives are in applying the First Amendment and how conservative they become in applying the Second.