Monday, February 28, 2005


Banning Books: Is Decency or Diversity the Real Issue

Ray Gonzalez, a professor of English at the University of Minnesota writes in the El Paso Times:
"The recent decision to ban Rudolfo Anaya's classic novel, "Bless Me, Ultima," at Norwood High School in Norwood, Colo., should be a wake-up call to every parent, teacher and writer who has devoted professional and artistic careers to educating the larger world about the cultural traditions of Mexican-Americans."
Norwood Superintendent Robert Conder says he removed the novel from the classroom -- even though he had received just a single complaint -- because of "obscene language and paganistic practices."

"That's not the kind of garbage I want to sponsor at this high school," Conder told the Norwood Post.

Naturally, Conder admits he has not read the novel.

There's a parallel between the Norwood censorship case -- which involves a book important to Mexican-American cultural traditions -- and the demand by Janet Harmon, and other Christian Fundamentalist parents to remove 14 books from the Blue Valley (Kansas) reading list. Of the 14 they want banned, five are by black authors Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Walter Dean Myers, and Richard Wright.

The real issue in both these cases is not decency, it's diversity, tolerance, and openness.


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