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