Talking Animals a No-No in 1931

ImageBanned Books Week in the US always brings forth a number of “Top X Banned Books” lists with readers, writers and educators stepping up to defend their favourite works of literature that have been attacked by the censors at schools, libraries and even governments. While I respect parents’ rights to control the books their children read — a student told me only yesterday that he’s not allowed to read Harry Potter books — I too believe it’s important to support “the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular”.

After all, what is considered unconventional or unorthodox shifts markedly over time. Back in 1931, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland was banned in Hunan province in China “because of the way it portrayed animals talking like humans“. Now, it’s hard to think of a popular kids’ book or movie that doesn’t have animals talking like humans. I can only imagine that censor rolling over in his grave at the idea of blockbuster movies featuring talking toys, cars and household objects, like candlesticks, teapots and clocks. Oh, the horror!

As for ideas that are unpopular:

“Isn’t it strange that I who have written only unpopular books should be such a popular fellow?”  – Albert Einstein

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