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Book Banners Don’t Appreciate Different Viewpoints

What do these famous people and institutions have in common: Caligula (Roman emperor), Savonarola (Florentine religious leader), the Catholic Church, the Concord Massachusetts Library, Nazis, the former Soviet Union, Serbian troops, the London City Council, and the U.S.A.?

They ALL attempted or succeeded in banning books that they considered objectionable!

  • Caligula banned Homer’s “The Odyssey” because it embraced Greek ideas of freedom.

  • Savonarola encouraged Florentine painters and authors to participate in huge bonfires of their works.

  • The Catholic Church, 1524-26, burned thousands of copies of William Tyndale’s English translation of the New Testament because they thought that the Bible should only be written in Latin. They also banned “Robinson Crusoe.”

  • In 1885, the Concord Library banned “Huckleberry Finn” because it was “coarse and inelegant.”

  • The Nazis burned thousands of books by Jewish and communist authors such as those by: Einstein, Freud, Hemingway, Hellen Keller, Jack London, Marx, Tolstoy, etc.

  • In the 1980s, the London City Council banned “The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny” from schools because they only “represented middle-class rabbits.”

  • The Serbs shelled the National Library of Sarajevo destroying 1.5 million to 3 million books and shot anyone who tried to save them.

  • Our country has tried to ban Darwin’s “Origin of Species,” Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” and J. K. Rowlings’s Harry Potter series.

What else do all of these authors and events have in common? These literary works are STILL enjoyed by readers around the world despite the efforts of people who have objected to their contents.

Today there are parents and others who are attempting to restrict access to books and teaching materials because they don’t fit their beliefs. A successful adult is one who has been educated to recognize that there are different viewpoints and can empathize with others, not just those sharing their own experiences.


By Donna Mitchell, Brighton

Published March 7, 2023, and March 12, 2023, Fowlerville News and Views

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