As you’ve probably heard, Rudolfo Anaya’s “Chicano coming-of-age novel” Bless Me, Ultima (which I have not read), was recently banned at a California high school because it contained “excessive vulgarity or profanity.” Plenty of parents and teachers (and maybe even the ACLU) are upset about this. Me too. That’s fucked up.
Today I learned that another book was banned, way on the other side of the country.
Yesterday judges in Miami ruled that copies of Vamos a Cuba, and the English-language version A Visit to Cuba, can be removed from school libraries because the book “contains images of smiling children wearing uniforms of Cuba’s communist youth group and celebrating the country’s 1959 revolution” and says “children work, study and play the same way children in other countries do.” The people arguing for the book’s removal are “outraged that the book made no mention of lack of civil liberties, political indoctrination of school children, food rationing or child labor” and claim it “portrays a life in Cuba that does not exist.”
Parents unsuccessfully tried to remove the book in 2006. The judge who ruled in favor of it’s removal yesterday wrote, “There is a difference between not including graphic detail about adult subjects on the one hand and falsely representing that everything is hunky dory on the other.”
“Hunky dory?” Is this judge a mom blogger? Do judges really write like that? Somewhere, William Safire is crying.
The ACLU is upset about this banning too (they’re consistent like that), saying this move is “censorship, censorship, censorship. I’m sorry, there is no way to evade that.”
I sympathize with the people who want “Vamos a Cuba” removed. I can see myself wanting a book that I felt was full of lies gone from my child’s library. (Swearing, on the other hand, I would like them to be exposed to because I want my children to grow up to be drug addicts and gangsters, and reading profanity pretty much guarantees that will happen, right Jesus?) But I understand that you can’t do that.