Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Texas nixes the Nixon nose

Censorship can take many forms, and in Texas there can be an ever-changing array of causes. 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 with upset parents and their over-active imaginations.  
The list of books banned in Texas for the 2010-2011 school year, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, included some quite innocuous titles. Among the banned books were Disposable: A History of Skateboard Art, The Great Perhaps, The Boy Who Looked Like Lincoln, and Creepy Castles.
Each book drew complaints from parents or teachers and 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 Chron.com.

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