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Censorship And The Catcher In The Rye Essay, Research Paper

Katie Johnson sent me the exact info about the censorship of “The Catcher in the Rye”. She found it in “Banned Books: Suppressed on Social Grounds” by Dawn B. Sova. vol.2. New York: Facts on File, c.1998.

‘The novel has long ignited disapproval, and it was the most frequently banned book in schools between 1966 and 1975. Even before that time, however, the work was a favorite target of sensors. In 1957, Australian Customs seized a shipment of the novels that had been presented as a gift to the government by the U.S. ambassador. The books were later released, but Customs had made its point that the book contained obscene language and actions that were not appropriate behavior for an adolescent. In 1960, a teacher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was fired for assigning the book to an eleventh-grade English class. The teacher was appealed and was reinstated by the school board, but the book was removed from use in the school.’

‘The following year in Oklahoma City, the novel became the focus of a legislative hearing in which a locally organized censorship group sought to stop the Mid-Continent News Company, a book wholesaler, from carrying the novel. Members of the group parked a “Smutmobile” outside the capital building during the hearing and displayed the novel with others. As a result of public pressure, the wholesaler dropped the critcized books from its inventory. In 1963 a delegation of parents of high school students in Columbus, Ohio, asked the school board to ban Catcher in the Rye, BRAVE NEW WORLD and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD for being “anti-white” and “obscene.”‘

‘After a decade of quiet, objections arose again in 1975 in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, and the novel was removed from the suggested reading list for an elective course entitled ” Searching for Values and Identity Through Literature.” Based on parents’ objections to the language and content of the book, the school board voted 5-4 to ban the book. The book was later reinstated in the curriculum when the board learned that the vote was illegal because they needed a two-thirds vote for removal of the text.’

‘In 1977 parents in Pittsgrove Township, New Jersey, challenged the assignment of the novel in an American literature class. They charged that the book included considerable profanity and “filthy and profane” language that premoted premarital sex, homosexuality, and perversion, as well as claiming that it was “explicitly pornographic” and “immoral.” After months of controversy, the board ruled that the novel could be read in the advanced placement class for its universal message, not for its profanity, but they gave parents the right to decide whether or not their children would read it.’

‘In 1978 parents in Issaquah, Washington, became upset with the rebellious views expressed in the novel by Holden Caulfield and with the profanity he uses. The woman who led the parents’ group asserted that she had counted 785 uses of profanity, and she alleged that the philosophy of the book marked it as part of a Communist plot that was gaining a foothold in the schools, “in which a lot of people are used and may not even be aware of it.” The school board voted to ban the book, but the decision was later reversed when the three members who had voted against the book were recalled due to illegal deal-making. In 1979, the Middleville, Michigan, school district removed the novel from the required reading list after parents objected to the content.’

‘Objections in the novel have been numerous throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s. In 1980, the Jacksonville-Milton School libraries in North Jackson, Ohio, removed the book, as did two high school libraries in Anniston, Alabama. In 1982, school officials removed the book from all school libraries because it contained “excess vulgar language, sexual scenes, and things concerning moral issues.” In 1983, parents in Libby, Montana, challenged the assignment of the book in the high school due to the “book’s contents.” Deemed “unacceptable” and “obscene,” the novel was banned from use in English classes at Freeport High School in De Funiak Springs, Florida, in 1985, and it was removed from the required reading list in 1986 in Medicine Bow, Wyoming, Senior High School because of sexual references and profanity. In 1987, parents and the local Knights of Columbus chapter in Napoleon, North Dakota, complained about profanity and sexual references in the book, which was banned from a required sophomore English reading list. Parents of students attending Linton-Stockton (Indiana) High School challenged the book in 1988 because it “undermines morality,” and profanity was the reason for which the book was banned from classrooms in the Boron, California, high school in 1989.’

‘The challenges to the novel have continued well into the 1990s. In 1991, the novel was challenged at Grayslake (Illinois) Community High School for profanity, and students in Jamaica High School in Sidell, Illinois, cited profanities and the depiction of premarital sex, alcohol abuse and prostitution as the basis for their 1992 challenge. Three other major challenges to the novel occurred in 1992. The novel was challenged and removed from the Waterloo, Iowa, public schools and the Duval County, Florida, public school libraries because of the “lurid passages about sex” and profanity, while a parent in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, objected to the book because it was “immoral” and contained profanity. In 1993, parents in the Corona-Norco (California) School District protested the use of the novel as a required reading, because it was “centered around negative activity.” The school board voted to retain the novel but instructed teachers to select alternative readings if students objected to it. The novel was challenged but retained for use in select English classes at New Richmond (Wisconsin) High School in 1994, but it was removed as mandatory reading from the Goffstown, New Hampshire, schools the same year because parents charged that it contained “vulgar words” and presented the main character’s “sexual exploits.”‘


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