National Banned Books Week is coming up on Sept. 22-28. Like me, you probably recall certain books that influenced you while you were growing up, many of which just happen to appear annually on the most-frequently banned books list.
While in junior high I read George Orwell’s dystopian classic 1984 and, even though at that age I did not clearly conceive much of its satire, the story terrified me. As a result, I’ve been on the alert for signs of “Big Brother” ever since.
Later came “The Catcher in the Rye” with its classic rebellious youth Holden Caulfield. J.D. Salinger’s novel has been a “favorite of censors since its publication,” according to the American Library Association.
Over the years, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “Lord of the Flies,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Of Mice and Men,” all of which have been banned at one time or another, were all books that I read and eventually recommended or assigned to my high school/college students.
My wife and I read children’s books to our three sons practically from the day they were born, and I always assumed that was the right thing to do. But now I wonder, is it possible that I somehow overlooked the fact that those publications could have corrupted their young minds? Just as some parents of teenagers have pushed to ban the above-mentioned novels and more, should some of those innocent looking children’s books also be banned?
For example, looking back, I now have serious concerns about all the Porky Pig books that I read to the boys. Porky Pig is a character who is quite human-like in every way except one — he does not wear any pants! Recently, it shockingly dawned on me that I was exposing my children as infants to pig porn!
And did it negatively affect them? You better believe it. Thinking back on that period in our lives, I now understand why my wife and I had such a hard time convincing the boys that they had to wear pants the first day they attended kindergarten!
Even more disturbing is that, to this day, with all three sons now in their thirties, they occasionally reveal to us that they sometimes get an almost uncontrollable urge to leave the house for work only wearing a shirt and tie! It’s impossible for me to describe to you how guilty that makes me feel.
Along with Porky the perverted pig, I read books to our children featuring that ‘wascally wabbit’ Bugs Bunny. Bugs’ mischievous behavior simply seemed like innocent fun at the time.But I now realize I was introducing the boys to the same harmful traits frequently displayed by juvenile delinquents.
Night after night, while reading the boys their bedtime stories, little did I realize the potential repercussions of exposing them to sinister behavior such as Bugs stealing poor Elmer Fudd’s carrots, Bugs handing Yosemite Sam an anvil as he steps into a mineshaft, and Bugs endangering Daffy by posting “Duck Hunting Season” signs out of season! How our three sons have managed to stay out of prison is a mystery to me.
One would think that a book such as “Goofy’s Big Race” could only teach children a positive lesson. What possible harm could there be in reading the boys a story about Donald Duck challenging Goofy to a race? Donald, cocky, overconfident, and a total jerk, stops to play, eat, and take a nap during the race, so Goofy wins.
Don’t kid yourself. In hindsight, I clearly see the impairment such a story could have on one’s future, since Goofy’s mantra throughout the story is “Slow and steady, steady and slow, that’s the way to go.”
It’s no wonder none of our boys were sprinters on their school’s track team! Even worse, no matter what career a young man pursues in life he could never excel with that attitude. Despite what the book says, to be successful in America, it’s no doubt better to be like Donald ... uh, Duck.
Probably the book that I read to the kids which was the most serious hindrance to their development into manhood is Donald Cries “Wolf!” which is a take on the classic “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”
In the book, Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse go camping. That night Donald, who is rather cowardly, cannot sleep while Mickey snores away in the tent. Donald is terrified of wolves so keeps waking up Mickey on the pretense he has spotted a wolf. Once wise to his ruse, Mickey vows not to respond to Donald’s cries for help anymore.
Later, when a wolf actually shows up, Donald screams and yells for help to no avail. After spending the rest of the night up in a tree, Donald appears to have learned his lesson. But has he really?
After all, Donald went camping totally unprepared for just such an emergency! Where’s Donald’s bear spray? Better yet, where’s his rifle? Why, at that range a Winchester .30-30 would have done the trick. What bad habits is that book teaching kids?
It’s no wonder that one of my boys, to this day, wants nothing to do with camping. And I blame it all on this book. I cannot believe that the NRA has not pushed to ban Donald Cries “Wolf!” due to its irresponsible subliminal anti-gun message.
So, young parents, stay vigilant. The books you have banned today could save your child tomorrow — and he’ll always remember to wear his pants.
Mike Murphy of Pocatello is an award-winning columnist whose articles are syndicated by Senior Wire. He recently published a book titled “Tortoise Crossing – Expect Long Delays,” which is a collection of 100 of his favorite columns. It is available on Amazon.com.