It was in Tennessee, but it could have happened anywhere else. The McMinn County school board voted on 10 January to ban (they call it “withdraw”) from all schools Art Spiegelman‘s world-renowned graphic novel MAUS, a work about the Holocaust and remembrance that won the first and only Pulitzer Prize for comics in 1992, among other awards.
The ten members board members Mike Lowry, Bill Irvin, Quinten Howard, Jonathan Pierce Mike Cochran, Donna Casteel, Sharon Brown, Tony Allman, Denise Cunningham and Rob Shamblin voted to withdraw the book from the reading list so that students in Language Arts would not have access to the book in schools.
Continuing the recent spate of conservative book banning initiatives, the McMinn County School Board voted to ban the book on the grounds that it includes eight swear words including“God Damn” and“nude pictures” of women (drawings) of women (sic) in this case mice, it is understood
In the case of the swear words it seems that this “God Damm” is the central cause and once again the absurdity of the religious censorship of the god’s hare-brained lawyers comes to the fore.
A nice, stupid way of reducing the hundreds of pages of a great classic. Anyone who has read it knows that it does not indulge in the lurid, nor does it contain particularly “pornographic” scenes, far from it. In fact, you’d have to look hard to find anything resembling the kind of filthy stuff it’s said to contain.
In general, it’s all so grotesque that I don’t know where to start with my opinion.
There is no video available of the meeting, but there is this full transcript of the minutes.
From reading the minutes, one can see the absurd moralising and nonsenses of the participants. They set up a debate on the use of “swear words” as a central theme in which they recreate a surrealist scenario in which the questioning of “vulgarity” prevails over any other consideration
They seem to forget that a few outbursts and some nudity (I don’t know exactly where it is, and I have reread MAUS I and II) with no other intention than to show realities in a context such as that of the characters should be considered something as natural as an inseparable part of the work.
The reconstruction of history through the memories of the authors who lived through it in order to recycle and rewrite it into a sort of Disney film is one of the most ridiculous forms of the new prudish revisionism.
Besides, what do they think they are going to achieve now that half the world’s media have echoed the ban? What reaction do they expect from the students? What would happen if some of them showed up at school tomorrow with a copy of MAUS under their arms?
From TN Holler phoned the board and asked if the fact that the book is about the Holocaust had anything to do with the decision, and they were told it did not. However, TN Holler believes that the climate of conservative censorship, the passage of history whitewashing laws that threaten teachers who teach the truth with fines, and the push for statewide book bans by groups such as “Freedom for Yours,” “Freedom for Yours,” “Freedom for the Holocaust” and “Freedom for the Holocaust,” are all factors in the decision “Moms for Liberty“(freedom for their own, you know) makes it fair to question the timing.
Much of the discussion revolved around how books are selected for the curriculum, pointing the finger at state standards that have lately become a popular punching bag among conservatives. Also discussed was the possibility of “editing out” words that were deemed objectionable and/or profanity-laden, but it was decided that it would be better to ban graphic novels altogether.
TN Holler also recalls that in december last year in East Tennessee, teacher Matthew Hawn was fired after 17 years in the profession for leading a discussion on white privilege. And the Tennessee state legislature recently passed its “anti-white privilege ban,” which threatens to impose fines and fines on those who do not have the right to voteCRT“which threatens to impose massive fines on teachers or school districts that teach the truth about our history and race.
Justin Kanew also believes that, “regardless of the reason for this decision, we are in a climate in which a sustained attack is being waged against our schools, our teachers and the truth”
“The furor against Critical Race Theory, which Republican think tanks have created for political gain, has become an excuse for people on the right to try to shut down diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, and things they disagree with in general, and now the conservative book banning is going through a good time. We have to teach the truth about our history. Or it will repeat itself, Kanew concludes.
Apparently, some of those present at the meeting where the ban was decided came out in defence of the book and many teachers in the county were upset by the decision, others seemed to be in favour of removing the objectionable words:
Here’s what some of the board members had to say at that meeting.
Tony Allman, School Board member
“Why the education system promotes this kind of thing, it’s unwise and unhealthy… I’m not denying that it was horrible, brutal and cruel. It’s like when you’re watching TV and a swear word or a nude scene comes on, it would be the same movie without it. Well, this would be the same book without it… If I had a child in eighth grade, this wouldn’t happen. If I had to move him and homeschool him or put him somewhere else, this is not going to happen.”
Jonathan Pierce, School Board Member:
“My objection, and I apologize to everyone sitting here, is that my standards matter – and I’m probably the biggest sinner and the crudest person in this room, can I put that in front of a child and say read it, or is this part of your reading assignment?”
Mike Cochran, School Board member:
“I went to school here thirteen years. I learned maths, English, reading and history. I never had a book with a nude picture, never had a book with foul language
In third grade, one of my classmates came up to me and said: ‘What is this word? I pronounced it and it was “damn”, and I felt very proud of myself because I had pronounced it. She ran straight to the teacher and told her she was swearing. Apart from that book that I think she brought from home, I have now seen a swear word in a textbook at school. So this idea that we have to have this kind of material in the classroom to teach history, I don’t buy it. “
Julie Goodin, instructional supervisor:
“I can speak to the history, I was a history teacher and there is nothing pretty about the Holocaust and to me this was a great way to depict a horrible time in history
Mr. Spiegelman did the best he could to represent his mother’s passing and we are almost 80 years away. It’s hard for this generation, these kids don’t even know about 9/11, they weren’t even born.
To me this was his way of getting the message across. Are the words objectionable? Yes, there’s no one who thinks they’re not, but taking out the first part, it doesn’t change the meaning of what he’s trying to portray and copyright… I have an eighth grader and even if they took this book down I’d want him to read it because we have to teach our children.
are these words right? No, not at all, that is not acceptable, but the problem is that we are 80 years away from the Holocaust itself. I just think it is a serious starting point for our teachers. I am passionate about history, and I would hate to rob our children of this opportunity. Are we going to teach these words out of this book as vocabulary words? No, you know me well, Tony Allman.”
Melasawn Knights, Federal Program Supervisor:
“I think every time you teach anything from history, people hung themselves from trees, people committed suicide and people were killed, over six million people were killed. I think the author portrays that because it’s a true story about his father who lived through that
He tries to portray that as best he can with the language he chooses to relate to that time, maybe to help people who haven’t been there at the time to really relate to the horrors of it.
is the language objectionable? Sure, I think it’s the way it uses that language to portray that… We do our best to write as best we can and follow the law and that’s what we feel we’ve done the best we can to address the concerns about that language. We think it’s a valuable book and most of the supervisors here have read it.”
Steven Brady, instructional supervisor:
“Every lesson we teach gives us the opportunity to make a change for the better for our students. When we teach habits of character, we are teaching our students to be better people. There was a time when that happened every day at home, but when we think about what happens now and the lives of our students, many of them live in broken homes when one day they are in one house and the next day they are in another. The list of things they have to deal with is endless. Whether we realise it or not, school is the most stable thing in the lives of many of our students
What students see and hear where they live may not be appropriate in some settings and we have the opportunity, with each lesson, to change what our students see as right. We have the opportunity to influence their ethics, morals and education
I appreciate the stand you are all taking to assure the public that we care about our children, and we believe it is important to teach our students the difference between right and wrong and to help them become ethical people with compassion and morals with respect for others
We are not promoting the use of these words, if anything we are promoting that these words are inappropriate and it is better not to use them. It’s inappropriate for school, it’s inappropriate for our conversation here and you may hear it at home, you may see it on TV, but we’re not promoting it
There are many lessons to be learned through this book about how we treat others, how we speak, the things we say, how we act and how to persevere. I just wanted you to get a sense of why these lessons are structured the way they are and how this text is surrounded by excerpts and articles and the things we do to build that background knowledge and the opportunity we have to make a difference in the lives of our students.”
In short, conservative and ultra-Catholic flanderism at its purest.
And here is Art Spiegelman’s reaction. In short, he says that he was surprised and that he thinks the whole thing is crazy. Insane.
Once again, the Streisand effect made its appearance, for a lot of days, Maus appears on Amazon’s most viewed list. Thus, on January 31 (date of this screenshot) three editions of Maus appear in positions 1, 3 and 7.
Copy in Archive, when I saved the copy the positions had changed to 1, 3 y 9.
Comic book store gives away free copies
Nirvana Comics, a Knoxville comic book store announced Thursday that it would give away copies of MAUS for students interested in reading it who want to learn more about the Holocaust. Source. Source (see with VPN).
Store announcement on Instagram.
From the store they announced they would be giving away copies of the book because they “believe it is required reading for everyone.” They said that all students have to do is order a copy by calling them or contacting them on social media. However, they warned that they had a limited number of copies, so there might be a waiting list.
They state that they have placed a large order for MAUS, which they hope will arrive soon, as all their usual stock had been borrowed or sold.
They added that they are in talks with a much larger organization to expand the program and that anyone can support the initiative with donations. In addition, they plan to open a crowdfunding to better organize the action.
Update February 1
Richard Davis, owner of Nirvana Comics has already raised over $88,000 ( and climbing fast) donated by about 2,800 donations on Gofundme to buy copies of Maus and distribute them to students.
In 2005, the United Nations declared 27 January, the day of the liberation of Auschwitz, an annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.