Fox in socks. And other devil literature.
First off, I think the only Dr. Seuss book that should be banned (and maybe burned on a pyre surrounded by men in jackboots wielding Tiki-torches) is Fox in Socks!
What a hateful piece of literature.
My four year old brought this home from her kindergarten library the other week and then wanted me to read it before bedtime. I tried to explain that she was asking me to do an impossible thing. And that this book was actually evil and that Dr. Seuss was a vicious racist who hurt people. (actually, I didn’t know that last part yet). BUT now that I know, its totally my go-to get out of jail free card when having to read this Mein Kampf-iest propaganda!
Can’t we read Julia Donaldson instead? She’s not a racist. At least I don’t think she is *Joey spends some time pondering* Damn, I can’t think of a single book of hers that I can somehow misconstrue. Okay, to be fair I’m not very good at finding hidden racism in children’s books. Very much in the way that I am not very good at finding errant fish bones in my maritime meals until I’ve swallowed them. Helpful hint, you can dislodge a fish bone stuck in your esophagus by swallowing marshmallows. Trust me I’ve done this numerous times now… and lived.
I always get a bit sad when people I like get outed as racists. Or in the very least get caught leaning that way (even if just for the briefest of moments) Ronald Reagan for example. Who despite his flaws (some might say seriously serious flaws) I still think was a good person. And yes, I know I that have (often) waxed on lyrically about Ronald Wilson Reagan (aka the Devil) AND also been generally supportive of the Black Panther movement… and that those two concepts should be forever opposing each other…
This makes me think of Huey Freeman, and how he would be having an aneurism right now if he were reading this.
… but you know, I get to be enigmatic about my political positions. And really, they only have to make sense to me.
Do I really think that Dr. Seuss books should be banned? Well… *considers his next words carefully* I don’t really know if they have been banned, *sigh* insofar as, you know, actual banning-ness… where agents of the state will kick in your door and rifle through your bookshelves in search of ‘and to think I saw that on mulberry street’ and then drag you out into the street and introduce you very viscerally to a Luger at close range. (I mean you might be able to make a case for mild-censoring)
Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the organization that owns the rights to his books have decided they won’t publish, five… or was it six… whatever, in all honesty I don’t know any of the books that have been mentioned…. in any event, because these books ‘portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong’, they won’t print them anymore.
Fair enough. To be honest I kinda feel like they can do what they want… since I’m a big proponent of property rights. And if that’s the way they feel, then yeah, go for it.
Of course the conservative position is that this is the end of the world and that next thing they’ll be banning the Bible, Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave new world’ and Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Satanic verses’.
Actually, there were probably conservatives on committees that considered Huxley and Rushdie. So I don’t know if you guys are the best judge of what should be banned and what shouldn’t.
Of course the peeps on the left who are just as foamy and apoplectic about these sorts of things shouldn’t get to decide these things either. I’ve bought and read books that were on banned lists that have perverted the youth and given credence to dangerous ideas and notions…
… which have turned out to be (truth be told) for the most part, an enormous waste of time and money. I found Mein Kampf, for example, to be… interesting… but not in a way that is ‘really’ interesting. I don’t really understand how reading this book could turn anyone into a white supremist. I can only surmise that if you’re extolling the virtues of Mein Kampf as this paragon of literature you’ve only ever read the ‘cliff notes’, or imagined reading it.
In that sense I feel like maybe we should keep all Dr. Seuss books in print. That way we can say, ‘see this is how far we’ve come since then and this the sorts of things (in this case, white) people use to do, depict other people as these sorts of stereotypes’. Aren’t we just sanitizing our history? Covering up our scars?
Personally I’m a big fan of scars.
I think the real reason is that none of these Dr. Seuss books were selling anyway, and really it made economic sense not to print them anymore. And since all other Dr. Seuss books have been flying off the shelves this week (because of some weird sense of… patriotism?), maybe this was just serious marketing brilliance.
On the other hand I’m sure Tintin’s days are numbered. And Winnie the Pooh. And those Berenstain bears with their gender role stereotypes… yeah, they’re screwed.
So on the one hand I’m against collectivism and telling people want they can and cannot read and gain access to. And on the other hand I think property rights are one of the solid pillars of an ordered society that need to be defended at all costs. Tough spot to be in.
I guess it depends on if you imagine a creators work as swimming pool. For all practical purposes the pool is awesome and you could have a great time swimming here. Only as some point the creator stood on the edge and pissed into the deep end. Is the pool now ruined? Do you never swim in it again? What is your tolerance for the percentage of urine in your pool water? Sometimes, I suppose, its better just not to know about all the pee… because now it will always be at the back of your mind.