Friday, January 29, 2010

Culpepper County, Virginia Bans Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl

Photo: AP

Remember Anne Frank? The little girl who spent two years of her life hidden in an attic with her family and others, and then spent seven months in the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp before dying of typhus? We know about Anne and the hopes and dreams of a young girl because of the diary she wrote that she received on her 13th birthday. This diary became the only outlet for her deepest thoughts and feelings and as such, is very personal. It gives us a view of the Holocaust that is unlike any other we have been given. The Culpepper County, Virginia, public schools have banned the book, The Definitive Edition, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, because of the objections of one parent over one passage:

When the book was originally published, Anne's father Otto redacted about 30% of the diary because of comments Anne made about her mother and other's in hiding with the family, and because of some of her sexual thoughts. The 50th Anniversary Edition publication contains the entire diary and is the edition used by the Culpepper County Schools. The passage objected to?

"There are little folds of skin all over the place, you can hardly find it. The little hole underneath is so terribly small that I simply can’t imagine how a man can get in there, let alone how a whole baby can get out!"
 Seriously. Have these people actually read their Old Testament? Or when they say The Bible, do they mean the modern versions of the New Testament with Jesus's words printed in red? One of the most sexually explicit books around is The Bible if anyone took the time to read it.

Another example of parents believing that they can direct the thoughts of their children by limiting their exposure to ideas. Do they think their children have never heard the word vagina? Do not know where babies come from or how by the time they are in 8th grade (the grade this book was assigned)?

A partial list of other books that have been banned in this country include:

To protect the children:
  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman because it talks about the necessity of not following religion blindly which some have seen as anti-religion. Umm, okay. Freedom of speech anyone?
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding because it contains violence, language, and struggle for good and evil and forces us to examine human nature and its faults. Again. 1st Amendment, and why exactly is self-reflection a bad thing?
  • Lady Chatterly's Lover by DH Lawrence because of adultery
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald because of sex and language
Religion and Politics:
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck actually because it made the growers look bad
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin because it was anti-slavery
  • Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift because among other things, it was ultimately anti-colonization
Race and Gender:
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee because of racism, language, and the rape scene although it is really because of Lee's highlighting the racism of her time in order to change it (I read this for the first time at age 7 and had no trouble understanding all the 'complex' issues
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott because some see the one character with a feminist perspective punished by marriage to an older man
  • Fahrenheit 451 is about censorship but is censored because of language, they say.

In a country where the radical right trumpets the Constitution, it's interesting how easily they are able to ignore it.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.


  1. Kyra,
    I stumbled onto your blog due to this Anne Frank ban craziness ...
    I did not take your article seriously, because although you did use a quote from the Anne Frank diary to make your point, you did not quote the Bible to back up your claim that it is "One of the most sexually explicit books around" ...
    Further, your avatar here seems to me to be too lighthearted for representation of a woman trying to express relevant, topical material in a responsible manner.

  2. Maybe those good ol virginny boys got some other reason to want it banned.

  3. But besides that Kyra, he does have a point on the avatar. When I first saw it I immediately thought that you were attempting to portray yourself as thin and attractive. I though that the only reason you would do that is if you weren't either. Now I'm thiinking I 'could' have been wrong.

    I certainly didn't think it was unsuitable for your serious blog.