Banned! Why was the book Fahrenheit 451 banned?

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Since its publication in 1953, Ray Bradbury's classic novel Fahrenheit 451 has been censored and banned in several schools in the United States. Over the years, certain schools have banned the novel for its "vulgarity" and using the Lord's name in vain. In 1992, a middle school in California...

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Since its publication in 1953, Ray Bradbury's classic novel Fahrenheit 451 has been censored and banned in several schools in the United States. Over the years, certain schools have banned the novel for its "vulgarity" and using the Lord's name in vain. In 1992, a middle school in California banned the story for its use of the words "hell" and "damn" while an independent school in Texas banned the story for its scenes of intoxication, cigarette smoking, and violence, as well as the character's "dirty talk." In some conservative private schools, Farehnheit 451's violence and language have prohibited the book from being included in the curriculum.

Ironically, censorship and banning books is a prominent theme throughout Bradbury's celebrated novel. In Bradbury's dystopian society, books are censored, and firemen burn novels. Montag, the story's protagonist, is a fireman who experiences a dramatic transformation and develops into an intellectual. Despite the controversy surrounding Bradbury's novel, Fahrenheit 451 remains a popular book in many curriculums throughout the United States.

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It's banned because of the language and in some cases also the subversive ideas. This is just as ironic as banning Mark Twain's Huck Finn for being a racist book. The truth is that both are mature books, intended for and best understood by mature readers.
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Well, maybe because they have a great sense of irony?  I've found, over my years of teaching, that it doesn't take much to challenge a book.  On more than one occasion we've been told we cannot teach a particular novel, even when the School Board has not read the book themselves, and is merely taking the recommendations of a small committee with a private agenda.  Book banning, I think, is most often the result of the lack of critical thinking Bradbury warns about in this story.

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The American Library Association has a great list of the 100 most common banned books and statistics about the reasons books are often challenged:

http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/bannedbooksweek/bbwlinks/challengesinitiator.cfm

The most recent documented challenge to this book was in Texas in 2006. Parents of a high school girl complained not only because the book contained curse words, but also because it discussed drunkenness, "dirty talk", and referenced the Bible disrespectfully.

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First, let's talk about what it means to "Ban" a book. It doesn't  mean the book was actually illegal to read. Books are usually "banned" from certain school districts, so the kids can't read them in school. Sometimes a few libraries will refuse to carry a certain book if they believe it is too offensive.  Fahrenheit 451 was banned from a school district because it used the phrase "God damn!" The school board felt that this language was inappropriate for students to read.

The reason that we hear so much about Fahrenheit 451 when talking about banned books is because that is what the book itself is about.  It takes place in a futuristic setting in which the government bans anything that might offend anyone. Books are illegal because someone might not like something that is in them. Television presents mindless dribble intended to keep everyone happy and entertained. People are kept from thinking for themselves or worrying about anything.

To summarize, a school district found some language offensive and so banned a book that was about the banning of books because people find them offensive. It's nearly poetic, don't you think?

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