Thursday, September 29, 2011

Banned Books Week 2011: Texas nixes the Nixon nose

Censorship can take many forms. The mere resemblance of Richard Nixon's famous nose to -- well, the school boards of Texas would rather not describe it -- got a children's illustrated book in trouble this year. The list of books banned in Texas for the 2010-2011 school year, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, includes some quite innocuous titles.

Among the banned books are Disposable: A History of Skateboard Art, The Great Perhaps, The Boy Who Looked Like Lincoln, and Creepy Castles.

Each book has drawn complaints from parents or teachers and has been banned for reasons including offensive language, sexual explicitness and more.

The Boy Who Looked Like Lincoln - banned for “profanity” and “sexual content” - tells the story of Abraham Lincoln look-a-like Benjy, who gets gifts of stove pipe hats on every birthday.

After relentless teasing, he is sent to a summer camp for kids who resemble things and Benjy soon realizes he is not weird, but unique, and learns to accept his appearance. Displeased readers posted in an online forum about how one child at the camp, who resembles Richard Nixon, has an elongated nose which could be interpreted as being male genitalia.

Deborah Caldwell Stone, deputy director of the ALA Office For Intellectual Freedom, said banning literature is a breach of the First Amendment.

“We think any instance of censorship is one instance too many,” she told the website

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