Stop & Chat Saturday

Stop & Chat is a weekly discussion post here a Read. Sleep. Repeat. where we talk about what ever tickles my fancy!

So, originally today’s Stop & Chat was suppose to be about a lovely topic Chrys of Oh Chrys! suggested but after watching Epic Reads Tea Time on Wednesday I was just itching to talk to you about banned books. It was via this stream of tea time that I learned that Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell has been banned within the Anoka-Hennepin school district. That’s right folks! In the year of 2013, when Miley Cyrus can have sexual relations with a wrecking ball on TV, our President is black, and the ability to “plug” a car into an electrical socket are every day occurrences, we are somehow STILL banning books! Books! Something that is meant to be a source of knowledge, a place to escape, and an opportunity to dream outside your reality. What kind of parent would want to take those kinds of experiences away from their children? What kind of parent would teach their children that if something offends one, then it is that ones job and responsibility to make sure no one else is offended?

Now, in case you didn’t know Eleanor & Park was the first contemporary book I’ve read and fell in love with, it’s the first book to literally make me cry and even though I’m 24 it moved me in ways that I didn’t think was possible for a book. This is probably why I’m most pissed about such a beautiful book being banned. This story can do nothing but give some child (and I use that term loosely) the HOPE that the shit they are going through today, doesn’t have to be the same shit they go through tomorrow.

When I was in the 6th grade (2000-2001), I discovered a little book called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, in my school library. I took said book home and as I was lounging on the porch of our two family house my granny came out and asked why I wasn’t running around with the other kids. I simply held up my book, and she let me be. A few weeks later while in the car with my granny and mama, I was about half way through Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and I overheard my granny telling my mama about how some “Harry something, books is bein banned in the schools“. Now back when I was a kid the rule was children should rarely be seen and never heard, but I couldn’t help myself. I screamed no so loud my mama slammed on the breaks at a green light. I started going on and on about how they can’t ban Harry, about how much I loved the books. I may have even cried, but that bits a tad blurry. And do you know what my granny said to me? “When I was a kid half of us could barely read. I won’t let them take that from you!” and she bought me the first 3 books (that was all that was out at the time) in the series.

To this day, I think back  to that moment, and each time I do I love my granny just a bit more. It wasn’t till a year or so later that she really sat me down and explained that when she was growing up, in the 1950’s/60’s in the very racist state of Alabama, that reading as a “colored” wasn’t just looked down upon, but it could very well get your teeth knocked out your mouth. She told me about how hard others had worked and fought for me to have the right and freedom to read, and how I should cherish that right and treat it with respect. She told me don’t let anyone take that right away from me. And dagnabit, I cry every time I think of that conversation. So I’m sure you can understand why the thought of ANYONE having their right to read what they want, taken away from them pisses me off so much.

As a parent, I understand when things get offensive, but I also know that pushing that offense under the rug won’t make it so my child won’t see it. And even though my kid is 5 and totally “innocent” I know that when those “offenses” rear their ugly heads, the only way to deal with it is to take it and break down my view to MY kid. For TWO people in the entire flipping school district to decide that an entire district worth of children can’t experience the uplifting and amazing story of Eleanor & Park it does more than make me feel angry. It literally hurts. They quoted their anti-bully campaign but do they not see their hypocrisy? They banned David Levithan’s book Boy meets Boy because:

  • Violates District #11’s Bullying Prohibition Policy with its inclusion and repetition of negative words such as gay boyfaggotqueerbitch etc.
  • Violates District #11’s Language of Harassment policy with the use of sexual terms and phrases referring to fake boobs, tonsil hockey, and debauchery (defined as “indulgence in sensual pleasures”).  At the end of the novel after Paul and Noah are kissing and fondling each other, Noah states, “I guess the candles work.”  Paul replies, “ ‘Shh,’ I say again, my voice full of glimmer.”  Noah concludes,  “‘Debauchery’…One of my dictionary words.” (Page 179)
  • Violates District #11’s Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy that prohibits the teaching of sexual orientation in District adopted curriculum.
  • Sexualizes same-sex friendships and normalizes same-sex hand holding, kissing, touching and fondling with detailed descriptions.  (Pages 18, 26, 50, 52, 61, 63, 65, 69, 78, 88, 100, 104, 110, 118, 120, 121, 156,171, 173, 174, 178).  On page 178 Paul says, “Noah reaches over to touch my cheek.  His thumb moves over my lips and down the side of my neck.  He leans me back against the wall and kisses me.  I kiss him back hard.  We breathe each other in….we grasp at each other and explore each other and mark the time in movements and whispers.”
  • Confuses children about their sexuality by offering a range of sexual “identities” to experiment with including “bisexual…ambisexual…duosexual” (Pages 85, 90).  Page 143 even suggests that the cross-dressing Infinite Darlene football player (whose real name is Daryl) might be a lesbian.
  • Depicts the Boy Scouts as a negative organization because of their non-homosexual policy.  Because of this policy, Paul tells how they decided that the Boy Scouts had no place in their town and a new group was formed called the Joy Scouts—where boys take guitar lessons from a retired monk. (Page 66)
  • Condones cheating and deceiving teachers.  (Pages 34, 56).  On page 34, Paul and Tony, who have similar handwriting, do each other’s homework without their teachers awareness stating; “We try to do this as often as possible.”  On page 56 one student suggests sneaking in a keg at a school party.
  • Condones cheating and deceiving parents.  (Pages 36, 153). On page 36 Tony tells his parents that he is going on a church retreat and hops a train to the city instead.  Tony, who feels he is gay, pretends to leave his house with Joni so his parents won’t question him.  Page 153 tells of all the years they pretend to go to “bible study groups” and “wash the scent of a basement rave out of Tony’s clothes, or let Tony onto our computers to go places his parents wouldn’t let him go.”
  • Introduces children to a mystical meditation practice to induce altered states of consciousness called “Going Elsewhere.” (Page 113)
  • Acquaints students with R-rated movies, The Advocate, and P-FLAG (pages 73, 76, 96, 115).  Note:  The Breakfast Club is rated R for bad language.  American Pie is unrated which (according to Blockbuster) makes it worse than an R due to nudity, sexual content and language. The Advocate is a mainstream homosexual magazine that contains pornography and links to pornographic sites.  P-FLAG  is a radical gay activist organization whose recommended books for children include pornographic content and encouragements to experiment sexually.
  • Makes a mockery of prayer and the Bible.  (Pages 6, 7, 17, 48, 95, 149) Page 6 and 7 state, “You’ve run out of chapter and verse for your study group? ‘O Lord, as I walk through the valley of the shadow of doubt, at least let me wear a Walkman…The Lord is my DJ…I shall not want.”  On page 17 Paul says, “Yes, I pray to my Big Lesbian God Who Doesn’t Really Exist.”
  • Depicts parents who are opposed to homosexual behavior as religious fanatics and undermines Christian values and teachings about homosexuality

 

And yes, those are the EXACT “offenses” this book has committed that will most definitely “destroy the youth of tomorrow”! There are so many things wrong with this that I honestly want to set all of the internet on fire. And please feel free to visit their website to see what other books they have deemed “unacceptable”, at

http://www.parentsactionleague.org

I’ve thumbed through many of their post and articles and the hate I feel is actually palpable. Anti-gay campaigns?! Banned books?! I hate to damn an entire state because of a few dumbasses, but why isn’t anyone in this god-forsaken district fighting back? Why is no one standing up for these LGBT children?!

So, in my effort to fight back, I’m supporting Banned Books Week by giving away a ebook copy of Eleanor & Park by the lovely Rainbow Rowell. And I can only hope it effects someone as deeply as it effected me.

 

*NOTE* this giveaway is open INT, as long as they can receive the ebook via Amazon, Barnes & Noble OR Kobo.

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49 thoughts on “Stop & Chat ~ My personal hatred for people who ban books ~”

  1. Your personal story, even if you were nervous about it, made this post absolutely amazing. I tip my invisible hat off to your grandmother. Much respect to her and knowing how much people need to appreciate books.

    I don’t think people realize how good they have it until something is gone, such as a book being banned. Whenever I read about districts banning books, especially for reasons such as criticizing religion or showing multiple sexual orientations, it makes me incredibly angry. One of the best things about books is being able to see multiple perspectives on things and it generally promotes critical thinking.
    Shannon @ Novel Reflection recently posted…Bloglovin’ Followin’My Profile

  2. Thank you! That woman is one snappy lady!

    And your absolutely right! Books are suppose to show you that there are other perspectives and ideas out there, that way when you branch off into your own perspective you know that its ok!

  3. It’s just so dumb, and I really agreed with the post by Gayle Forman over her tumblr, where she talks about how people like to ban books because they want to get rid of ugliness. Which is absolute truth.

    And you’re not the only one. If it was a really bad book, like something that glorifies rape, then that deserves to be banned. But all the books showing what life’s really like doesn’t deserve to get banned.
    Shannelle (The Tracery of Ink) recently posted…My Problem with Email SubscribingMy Profile

  4. Try to rid the world of ugliness is impossible! And I’ll be happy when these idiots realize it! Ugliness comes with beauty. You can’t have one without the other, and you need both to appreciate the good.

  5. I’m INT, so every time I hear about a banned books list or that X book got banned, it baffles me. I think you’re 100% right, books shouldn’t be banned. Especially not books like HP, young adult LGBT books or books like Eleanor & Park. I have yet to read E&P, but heard many many wonderful about it. 🙂

    Great post!
    Cayce recently posted…[Book Review] Skin by Donna Jo NapoliMy Profile

  6. Eleanor & Park is a phenomenal story! I know to you INT peeps us America’s are looking like a horrible group of jackasses right now. Banning books is such an idiotic and hypocritical act! And it’s absolutely ridiculous, to think that “banning” a book is the way to mold our “leaders of tomorrow”.

  7. Dang. Why don’t they just set the book on fire? Banning books is a stupid practice and I totally agree that it is ridiculous we are banning them in 2013. Maurice Sendak always wrote the dark side for children because he believed children should be exposed to the horrors of life, and that we shouldn’t shield them away from it. If we do, they won’t know what’s out in the real world and they’ll be living a fantasy for their rest of their miserable lives. I’ve lived by that from my writing and what I read.

    The Invisible Man was recently banned in a district, too. Forget which one though, I think it’s somewhere in South Carolina.
    Tara recently posted…What’s Next?My Profile

  8. I think that’s the way it should be! Kids aren’t these porcelain dolls we make them out to be, and most of them can handle a little bit of ugly with the proper support and explanations. Everyone is entitled to raised their kids how they see fit, but to spill your thoughts, likes and dislikes onto my kid is just a no go for me.
    Octavia recently posted…Find Me by Romily Bernard Tour & Giveaway!My Profile

  9. First off…I love your granny! What she said rings so true for many people. And there are so many other things kids can be doing other than reading a book, why mess with that?? I dare someone to ever tell any of my kids what they can or can’t read but ME. After I read about the ban issue the other day I immediately decided what I was ordering for Christmas gifts for all the readers in my family. Lol that’s how I’m showing my support. Majority of them are teenagers. I haven’t read this book yet, but it is on my TBR as soon as I’m caught up in some things, I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about it until these tiny 2 people on the spectrum of the world, that I honestly can’t believe anyone is giving two craps about. That’s two tiny people, I’m still wondering who gave them the crown & named them King! I was also overly appalled that they want the librarians who suggested the book to be punished. What exactly are they being punished for? Having an opinion on a good book? They are librarians, it’s their jobs, the people up in arms, their jobs are parenting THEIR OWN KIDS!!!! But once again in the oh so sensitive world, only one opinion can be right apparently in most people’s minds.
    Crystal @ Crystal in Bookland recently posted…BLOG TOUR: Review and Interview for Shadows by Paula WestonMy Profile

  10. Your granny sounds amazing! I know we talked briefly about this on twitter but I just want to YES everything in your post.
    The PAL of that school district TERRIFIES me. It’s not JUST Eleanor & Park(though that is a big part of it), but yes, the hatred coming from their website is ASTOUNDING. And it just makes my heart hurt for all the teenagers who are missing out on these books & experiences that could potentially help them SO SO SO much just because a few parents want to dictate how to run the school.
    Stormy @ Book.Blog.Bake. recently posted…Blogging Friends{Day 3 of the Book Blogger Challenge}My Profile

  11. ELEANOR & PARK has my heart. I’m so glad it was the first contemporary you loved. That’s what I write and it’s my hope that one day I can write something that’s even fractionally as good. Secretly, it’s my hope to also write a book that someone wants to ban. In my opinion, that means you’re doing something right as an author. But I also share your intense displeasure for anyone who wants to restrict the right to read. It’s too precious of a thing to play with.
    Adrianne recently posted…From the Revision CaveMy Profile

  12. Banning Eleanor & Park is probably the stupidest thing I’ve seen/heard this year. Seriously? For a few curse words? A few sexual situations? Yeah, because these NEVER happen in real life! The other day I looked through that site, too, and it made me SO ANGRY. I’ve never been told that I couldn’t read a book because of curse words or sex scenes. Hell, my mother gave me my first pirate book (not exactly a good one, but still :D). I’m pretty sure that kids can skip through the scenes they don’t think they should read; they’re not stupid. And if parents think their kids don’t swear in school – PLEASE, WAKE UP.

    What really pissed me off is the article about Two Boys Kissing. It’s just freaking ridiculous. What the hell is their problem?! I can’t understand how people can treat homosexual people as if they have a disease or an illness that can be cured. What, because two boys/girls having a relationship is just too fucking weird for their tiny brains? They treat them as if they’re sick. They’re normal people. Just because they like the same sex doesn’t make them freaks. People with that kind of thinking honestly disgust me.

    Anyway… I agree with everything you said. Banning books just seems stupid and useless considering that any kid can find their father’s stash of porn (if they have one) or flip to a 18+ channel when they’re alone. *sigh* I hope someday people will stop being so judgemental and cruel to things they obviously can’t understand.
    Eve recently posted…Review: FangirlMy Profile

  13. So, I’m from Minnesota and the big thing to know about the state is that it’s way more divided than it seems. It always goes blue in elections, but there is a significant majority of very conservative people since most of the state is rural except for a couple of urban centers. They tried to ban gay marriage right after I moved for school and I’m so relieved they failed. Stereotypically Minnesotans are also bad at confrontation ;-). Hopefully there will be more positive change soon though.
    Anya recently posted…Quantum Entanglement Blog Tour: Liesel K.Hill’s Publishing JourneyMy Profile

  14. They are banning Eleanor & Park? WHAT!? Just… I can’t even.

    I understand that some parents may want to keep their kid away from certain books. But I just don’t get their need to challenge and ban a book. Books can help people, heal people, and tell them something meaningful, and when you ban a book because you don’t like it, you’re keeping kids from experiencing a story that may have a big effect on them.

    I remember reading that the Junie B. Jones series was challenged (and maybe banned, I don’t know for sure) because of the main character was mouthy and used bad grammar. I was really outraged about this, because they were banning the Junie B. Jones series, a series that was practically my childhood, because *Junie B. was a bad role model.* -__-

    And you’re right, if a kid wants to read a book that has things the parent finds offensive, they should just explain it. That’s what my mom did and I think I’m turning out fine.

    (Can I maybe post about this? I wanted to ask you first… Oh, and I completely understand if you don’t want me to 🙂 )
    Lesley Marie recently posted…Review//The 5th Wave by Rick YanceyMy Profile

  15. It’s ridiculous right?! As much mischief as kids get into on a daily basis they want to take away the one thing that is not only educational but character building too?! I just dont’ understand!

    *also sent you a email to your aol, about your question 🙂 *

  16. Very ridiculous. I actually learned a lot from Junie B.

    And thank you for taking the time to send me an email! Unfortunately, AOL is, uh, not cooperating (my password has been changed and when I contacted AOL about, they couldn’t do anything). So would it be possible for you to just send it to my new email (lesley.marie2@aol.com). I’m really sorry about this >_<
    Lesley Marie recently posted…Mini Reviews//Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock And That Time I Joined The CircusMy Profile

  17. I have been raging ever since I heard the news. For the first time in my life, I feel lucky that my parents moved me out of Minnesota before after Kindergarten, or I would have gotten my education in that close-minded, oppressive school district and I can’t imagine how horrible that would have been.

    And yes, Minnesota is a very conservative state and I hate that someone isn’t fighting back. I almost wish my cousin lived in that district because she sure as hell would be all over this, but her kids go to school in a different district.

    I mean, my dad did once try to ground me from reading because “it made me out of touch with reality” but hey, it could have been worse I guess.

    I actually just read Eleanor & Park, and I’m still having feels over it and I can’t understand why anyone would want to ban it.

    And I absolutely love that you had such a strong reaction to Harry Potter being banned. My best friends husband wasn’t allowed to read the books growing up because they contained magic, and once he met my best friend one of the first things she did was get him to read them and not only did he fall in love with them, but he fell in love with reading-and this was at the age of 21. HARRY POTTER CHANGES LIVES. Also I kinda love your granny now too.

    This whole post made me cry a bit. I would never have survived my very chaotic and abusive childhood if I hadn’t had books to escape into, and it breaks my heart every time I think about a group of judgmental, hypocritical and frankly ridiculous idiots taking the right away from anyone, but especially children and teens.
    Angie recently posted…Help me buy some books!My Profile

  18. Like I said on Twitter, I think your granny’s really awesome. I admire her for standing up for reading. Reading is so important. Most banned books seem to some of the best. They are truly worth reading because they can actually teach us something. I really don’t like it when someone tries to take away the opportunity to learn something valuable from a book.

    I find the Eleanor & Park thing kind of funny because apparently I bought it for Kindle today (I can remember looking at the book, but I seriously can’t remember pressing that purchase button) before I found out about what that Parents Action League was trying to do. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about that book, and now I just want to read it and find out what all of the fuss is about and why those parents are wanting it to be banned. I believe I’ve found my way of celebrating Banned Books Week.

    Fantastic post, by the way.
    Kaitlin recently posted…Stacking the Shelves (5) ~ Two Week’s WorthMy Profile

  19. I think I love your granny, too. She sounds like an amazing woman, and I’m so sorry for how she suffered when she was younger.

    I don’t understand what motivates these people. Why are they so afraid? There are plenty of books out there with viewpoints with which I don’t agree, but I would never want to censor them. I simply choose not to read them and go on my merry way.

    And the nonsense with Levithan’s book – PLEASE SOMEONE PROVIDE ME ONE EXAMPLE OF A BOOK THAT “TURNED” SOMEONE GAY. Sorry for the caps, but that does make me want to scream. Sexuality and gender identity isn’t a hobby that you can switch at will.

    My dear O, we are so on the same page here. So much so that I just posted my own diatribe about Eleanor & Park. (My diatribe ishere)

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts – and especially about your granny. That should be unbelievable, but we know better, and stuff like this is proof that we need reminders occasionally.

    Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia
    Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia recently posted…Banned Books Week: An Open Letter to ParentsMy Profile

  20. Thank you! I tell you that is one tough old bird, my granny. 😉

    I think people fear what they can’t understand. It’s easy for these idiots to just say “well you choose to be gay!” instead of seeing that homosexuality/sexuality isn’t a choice, it just is. Funny how they can believe every single word in a book that is 1k+ years old and has been rewritten more times that any other story in the world, but when it comes to someone saying, “I’m gay because I’m gay” they need physical & scientific evidence.
    Octavia recently posted…Find Me by Romily Bernard Tour & Giveaway!My Profile

  21. Your granny sounds like she is/ was awesome. I love how she supported your reading :).

    That said, I am Swedish and very grateful for the fact that Banned Books Week doesn’t exist here. Libraries might opt to not buy a book, but then you can always order it from another library. In fact, if someone wanted to ban Harry Potter, I suspect that they would get a ” Are you kidding me?” look from the librarian :).
    Mikaela recently posted…Cover Spotlight: Night Broken by Patricia BriggsMy Profile

  22. Your story about reading Harry Potter and your grandma’s reaction to hearing it would be banned made me cry Octavia! I completely agree that book banning is ridiculous and more often than not,it is books that actually could be a lifeline for a child. Wonderful post!
    Rachelia (Bookish Comforts) recently posted…{Bloggiesta} To Do List!My Profile

  23. Your granny is awesome 🙂

    Reading the FAQ section of that site is actually making me ill. Homosexuality is a mental illness? Child molestation causes homosexuality? Homosexuals can “recover”? Fathers can “teach” their sons to be gay or straight? This is unbelievable!!

  24. I just found your blog because of this post and WOW, am I so glad I did! Your story and examination of the Boy Meets Boy “list of reasons” is both touching and eloquent. As an English teacher-in-training (and as a READER, of course!), I find the banning and challenging of books insulting. This makes me so angry that I can’t really come up with words to express myself. However, I’m so glad you posted this and, though I’m not entering the giveaway since I already own a copy of this AWESOME book, I’m happy that you’re giving away a copy so that someone else can enjoy it’s awesomeness and see how “misguided” (to put it politely) this parent group, supposedly so concerned about kids, really is. Kudos!
    Randi M recently posted…Super Six Sunday: Books Set in SchoolsMy Profile

  25. I don’t like seeing books banned for content reasons. That sort of thing just leads us down the road to intolerance and discrimination. It also doesn’t have the desired effect; once you ban a book, you have more people wanting to know what all the fuss was about… and possibly picking up the offending novel to have a look!

    On the other hand, there are a few books that I’d like to see banned simply because the writing is so bad. There are enough people out there who can’t write a grammatically correct sentence; I hate seeing books that reinforce those errors!
    La Coccinelle recently posted…Review – SkelligMy Profile

  26. First of all, I want to give you and your grandma a gigantic hug! Your grandma must have been such a strong woman and she really did have her priorities right!

    Now, onto the banning of books… Goodness it just feels so wrong to me, wrong in a way that I cannot explain, it just reminds of the time when some could decide to burn books, to not let black people read (or go to the same schools) to times when a woman couldn’t vote, couldn’t own property, or couldn’t put her own name on a book that was not about proper subjects for a one of the “fair sex”… It just feels wrong in my bones, and elicit a very very strong and angry response.

    And to hear that Eleanor and Park was banned? I still haven’t read the book, and I plan to read it and review it in my blog with a special post for Banned Books Week.

    Book banning is just simply complaining about a personal preference and trying to turn it into a law. You, as a parent, can decide what books your kid may or may not read and if you do an awful job about it and instead of talking with your kid about any kinda issues prefer to simply pretend they don’t exit… oh well, it’s your kid anyways and you’ll have to deal with whatever backlash might happen. But impossing your opinions and your parenting on other people’s kids? Hell no, that’s NOT right at all!

    Great post, Octavia!
    Pili recently posted…Showcase Sunday #11!My Profile

  27. Yes! Do people in Minnesota not see how slippery of a slope this could possibly be? Do they not remember the time when women truly were nothing more than a man’s property? Or are their heads really shoved that far up their asses?!

    When your Eleanor & Park review goes live let me know! I’d love to read it. 🙂
    Octavia recently posted…Find Me by Romily Bernard Tour & Giveaway!My Profile

  28. I haven’t read Eleanor and Park yet, but I’ve heard great things about it! I can’t believe it’s on the banned list. And I have to say I got a bit misty reading the story about your granny. Rock on, granny!!!

    I personally wouldn’t read Boy Meets Boy because that’s not my cup of tea, but I highly disagree with banning it because of all those ridiculous reasons. I support the LGBT community because I think anyone and everyone should have the right to love whoever the fuck they want to love. Who are they to decide what’s right or wrong?! The kids are going to learn somehow, and banning books is taking away useful sources of knowledge. If they don’t learn through books, they’re just going to learn some other way. Idiots.

    How about The Catcher in the Rye, which probably has a profanity on every page? And the main character drinks too much and drops out of college? How is THAT teaching good values?! That was required reading when I was in high school!
    Jessi @ Auntie Spinelli Reads recently posted…Audiobook Review: Rebel Heart by Moira YoungMy Profile

  29. I’ll make sure to pass that along to my granny. 😉

    I totally agree and know what you mean. Books open a door for kids to become comfortable asking questions and discussion things with the adults their around, and believe love them no matter what. Banning this book, doesn’t help anyone! If anything it’s just showing a generation that being who you are is unacceptable even to those who are meant to love you unconditionally.
    Octavia recently posted…Find Me by Romily Bernard Tour & Giveaway!My Profile

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