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  • 04.11.11

Americans Want to Toss Adorable Gay Penguin Tale on Banned-Book Pyre

Gay penguins and Twilight’s vampires are just some of what concerned citizens are trying to remove from America’s libraries.

And Tango Makes Three

As a taxpaying American citizen, you are entitled to write your local public or school library and formally request that they remove a book from their shelves. They don’t have to listen to you, but they often report these requests to the American Library Association, which publishes an annual list of the books that got the most people up in arms. And apparently, people don’t want their children reading about gay penguins.

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And Tango Makes Three, the heartwarming true tale of two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo that adopt an abandoned egg and then raise the baby penguin, is the book that is most often challenged by parents for its positive depictions of gay (avian) lifestyles. And school districts around the country have removed it from their shelves in response to many of those challenges.

The Twilight books, which glorify the occult, also come up for targeting, as does the major hit The Hunger Games, which is both violent and sexual, and therefore, is also incredibly popular. Barbara Ehrenreich’s seminal Nickeled and Dimed also makes the list, though “forcing Americans to confront incredible inequality inherent in the system” is not why. Instead it’s drug use and bad language.

The irony is thickest at the number three selection on the list, Brave New World, which was cited for “Insensitivity, Offensive Language, Racism, Sexually Explicit.” If you recall your Huxley, you’ll remember that the word “Shakespeare” is banned in the World State. Do the people know that they’re asking to ban a book about the danger of a society that bans books?

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About the author

Morgan is a senior editor at Fast Company. He edits the Ideas section, formerly FastCoExist.com.

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