The Concept of Book Banning in the U.S.A

Introduction

Books are a wide source of knowledge. But due to several issues like sexual, racial identity etc. arrive with tactics and politicization. This lead to several books being banned. Let us look at few of the examples in this article.

Book banning in the U.S: the phenomenon

In Wyoming, a country prosecutor had considered charges against a public library for stocking books like ‘Sex is a Funny word’ and ‘This book is Gay.’

In response to that, a bill was initiated in the State Senate that prohibits the public libraries of schools to keep books that focuses on sexual activity and identity as well as gender identity.

A lot of parents, activists as well as school board officials and lawmakers all around the country of U.S.A are challenging books at a pace not seen in decades. The ALA or the American Library Association received an ‘unprecedented’ 330 reports of book challenges.

Schools: Why is it banned?

A 17 year old high school girl, Katy who is sitting in the corner of her high school library, has hidden the fact from her parents that she is a part of the queer community. Katy talks to the reporter saying that her parents have passed homophobic comments about homosexuality being a sin. She feared the repercussions of her parents finding out, if they learn what she is reading in the library.

The library which has countless rows of books about characters from all gender and racial backgrounds as she believes it is her safe haven. But the books which includes some of her favorites have been disappearing from her school district libraries these past few months.

The library which has countless rows of books about characters from all gender and racial backgrounds as she believes it is her safe haven. But the books which includes some of her favorites have been disappearing from her school district libraries these past few months.

The historic reason of banning books

Historically, other reasons for banning books include: sexual imagery, violence, and any content considered obscene. Indeed, arguments over obscenity — how its defined and how that definition relates to the First Amendment — have been at the heart of banned-book controversies throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

Many historians point to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin as the first book in the United States to experience a ban on a national scale. The Confederacy barred the book from stores not only for its pro-abolitionist agenda, but because it aroused heated debates about slavery (some historians argue that the book catalyzed the Civil War).

A decade after the war, a carping moralist government official named Anthony Comstock convinced the United States Congress to pass a law prohibiting the mailing of “pornographic” materials. His definition of the term was murky at best. Anatomy textbooks, doctors’ pamphlets about reproduction, anything by Oscar Wilde, and even The Canterbury Tales were deemed too sexy to send through the mail.

These bans, or “comstockery,” as the practice became known, continued into the new century. But by the 1920s, shifts in politics and social mores led booksellers to see themselves as advocates for people’s right to read whatever they wanted. Then, in 1933, an influential court case — The United States v. One Book Called Ulysses — helped usher in a new era of legal interpretation of the First Amendment.

In that court case, Judge John M. Woolsey overturned a federal ban of James Joyce’s Ulysses — the ban had been in effect since 1922, and court transcripts reveal that the judge who banned the book also remarked that it was “the work of a disordered mind.” Woolsey, who admitted to not liking the novel, found legal cause to challenge the previous judge’s definition of pornography — and by extension, his definition of art. He ultimately ruled that the depiction of sex, even if unpleasant, should be allowed in serious literature.

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