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Ray Bradbury, icon of the freedom to read

Posted By FTRF Staff, Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Updated: Friday, July 27, 2012

We learned with sadness of the death of pioneering science fiction and fantasy writer Ray Bradbury. Bradbury will perhaps best be remembered for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, which, nearly 60 years after its publication, remains one of the most important works of art about censorship—and a target of would-be censors.

Some of the challenges to Bradbury’s work, as recorded by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and published in ALA’s Banned Books Resource Guide by Robert P. Doyle:

Fahrenheit 451: Expurgated at the Venado Middle School in Irvine. Students received copies of the book with scores of words—mostly "hells” and "damns”—blacked out. After receiving complaints from parents and being contacted by reporters, school officials said the censored copies would no longer be used. (CA 1992)

Challenged at the Conroe Independent School District because of the following: "discussion of being drunk, smoking cigarettes, violence, ‘dirty talk,’ references to the Bible, and using God’s name in vain.” The novel went against the complaintants’ "religious beliefs.” (TX 2006)

The Martian Chronicles: Challenged at the Haines City High School due to several instances of profanity and the use of God’s name in vain in the work. (FL 1982)

Pulled and replaced with a newer version at the Herbert Hoover Middle School in Edison because a chapter contains the words "the niggers are coming.” The new abridged edition of the book omits the inflammatory story, titled "Way Up in the Air.” (NJ 1998)

The Veldt: Retained on the Beaverton School District’s reading list. The short story was challenged by a middle-school parent who thought its language and plot were inappropriate for students. Her biggest concern is that the story offers no consequences for the children’s actions. The short story is part of Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man anthology. It is twenty pages long and was published in 1951 as the first in the collection of eighteen science fiction stories.

OIF also has received notification of multiple challenges to Bradbury’s story "The Sound of Thunder.”

Fahrenheit 451 is the second selection of the FAIFE Book Club, co-sponsored by OIF and IFLA’s Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression. This international, online initiative will feature resources and events on the book through sum­mer 2012. For more information, visit

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