The issue of literature censorship within the US and other nations creates a heated debate among opposing debaters. People opposing and supporting this censorship believe they are correct, but each piece of literature needs scrutiny to know if it should be banned.
Censorship refers to altering, suppressing, or prohibiting speech/writing considered subversive of the general well-being of a nation. Nowadays, censorship occurs when a government or an institution’s administration enforces the rule of law and censors information.
Several forms of censorship exist, and they include preventive, punitive, and taboo censorship. Preventive censorship refers to practices applied by an institution or government to prevent information from reaching the general public. It involves using tactics such as prior restraint or ban, licensing restrictions, and self-censorship.
Punitive censorship refers to restrictions that arise after the general public raises concern and expresses the need to censor certain information. Taboo censorship refers to information suppression that occurs due to traditional prohibitions such as taboos. Such censorship is widespread in societies that closely abide by tribal and cultural laws.
The US has a history of banning publications, especially books intended for a young audience. Some of the most controversial books censored by the US administration include the tales from the crypt comic and the cat in the hat books.
This article will look at how these two books faced censorship.
The Cat in the Hat Controversy
“The Cat in the Hat” is among the most famous children’s books authored by Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss was a prolific children’s books author who also faces a lot of controversies. The government banned several of his publications, and the Dr. Seuss publication firm said that they would cease production of six books.
One such book is “If I Ran the Zoo,” which has insensitive and racist imageries and the publishing firms stated it would stop releasing the book to preserve Dr. Seuss’s legacy.
Although “The Cat in the Hat” book is still on sale across the US, some people widely criticize it. This book is less explicitly racist and is about a black and white cat that brings liveliness to two kids whenever they feel low.
However, critics condemn this book for the portrayal of white supremacy and lack of gender diversification. On the other side, most people tend to see past the book’s drawbacks and praise its rhyming text that makes reading fun and easier for young kids.
�The Cat in the Hat” provides an exciting read and also has lively and eye-catching illustrations. This book widely used one-syllable words that help reading beginners to quickly and effortlessly comprehend text.
According to statistics collected in 2007, “The Cat in the Hat” ranked highly in the Teachers’ Top 100 books for kids survey. The book ranked at number 36, and five other Dr. Seuss’s books also featured in this top 100 list.
Children also love this book because the protagonist (the cat) aims to create fun and joy for the kids in the book. This kind of fun is more enjoyable than the conventional serious fun provided by parents.
Although the protagonist always seems to lead the children towards revolting against authority, in the end, he makes amends by cleaning up before the book ends.
“The Cat in the Hat” is an exceptional children’s book that helps promote literacy in young learners. Since numerous prominent people of color, including Michelle Obama, have advocated for this book and its associated culture, such as the red and white hat, censoring it doesn’t make any logical sense.
Tales from the Crypt Comic Controversy
“Tales from the Crypt” Comic initially began as international comics in 1950 and was a publication of Entertainment Comics (EC). Later on, the publishing firm rebranded the book’s title four times to save on postage license fees.
The comic book changed its design when it reached issue number 15, and it introduced the Crypt keeper. This character was a creepy, mysterious figure who introduced the audience to blood-curdling tales of terror.
By the 20th issue of this comic, the publication permanently obtained its iconic “Tales from the Crypt” name. This comic book received major success and produced 27 other publications before receiving widespread censorship.
In the 1950s, “Tales from the Crypt” stated receiving backlash from parents, children, psychiatrists, clergymen, and teachers. These individuals believed that these horror comic books promoted juvenile delinquency and illiterateness among kids.
In 1954, a congressional subcommittee hearing drafted and imposed a regulatory Comics code that eventually led to the cancellation of “Tales from the Crypt” and two other horror books from EC.
Although the congress subcommittee found that graphic novels weren’t responsible for crime and delinquency, it suppressed the comic industry’s ability to produce graphic books.
In the face of potential censorship, Comic companies banded together and formed the Comic Code Authority (CCA) that forced EC to self-censor its graphic cartoon novels. This authority body was in charge of approving which comic books were safe for sale, and since it didn’t support “Tales from the Crypt,” its publication ceased.
The controversy increased as many people said that the books promoted robbery and desensitized children towards violence. Also, sellers stopped procuring comics that the CCA hadn’t accredited.
Although the publishing firm shut down its terror comic series, it recently rebooted the “Tales from the Crypt” and produced several publications. The suppression of this comic is nowadays viewed as one of the terrifying tales of censorship.
Fredric Wertham, a psychologist who featured prominently during the fight against comic strips with horrific images, admitted later that comic books weren’t the most significant issue affecting children.
Additionally, further analysis of his studies on the effects of comic books found that he manipulated, fabricated, and compromised evidence for rhetorical gain. This recent finding shows that “Tales from the Crypt” underwent unfair censorship due to individuals who wanted to promote their agendas without directly addressing issues such as delinquency.
Censorship in literature intended for a young audience is rampant across the US, and it began long ago. In the two children’s books discussed above, critics widely criticized the negative aspects of the publications without necessarily looking at the benefits and the causes and possible remedies for such issues.