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Saturday, March 16, 2013 

Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis censored in Chicago schools

DNA Info Chicago's reported that Iranian exile Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel Persepolis was considered for being banned from being used for teaching assignments in public Chicago schools:
"Persepolis," described by Time magazine as a memoir of girl growing up in Iran who has "an obsession with becoming God's new prophet," has been banned in Iran, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates because some Muslims consider it blasphemous.

In a letter to principals, the schools CEO said that the move to remove the book from its seventh-grade curriculum came after "It was brought to our attention that it contains graphic language and images that are not appropriate for general use" for that age group.

While saying "We are not banning this book from our schools," Byrd-Bennett instructed principals: "If your seventh-grade teachers have not yet taught this book, please ask them not to do so and to remove any copies of the book from their classrooms."

While "Persepolis" "may be appropriate" for junior and senior students, Byrd-Bennett said that CPS is reconsidering whether the book, because of "powerful images of torture," should be used in the curriculum of eighth through 10th grades. [...]

The controversy was sparked by reports of an email sent Thursday in which the Lane Tech principal told school staff members that he was informed by one of the CPS' Network Instructional Support Leaders group that all ISLs were given a deadline of Friday to make sure the book was not in the library, that it had not been checked out by a student or teacher, that it was not used in "any classrooms" and "to collect the autobiographic graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi from all classrooms and the Library."

"I was not provided a reason for the collection of 'Persepolis,'" Dignam's message concluded. [...]

A film version of "Persepolis," released in 2007, was banned in Iran, a move that the author told an interviewer in 2010 was probably because "it is too Western, and it is un-Islamic and maybe anti-revolutionary.”

In her statement Friday, the author said she visited a Chicago school in 2004 "and loved seeing the kids there, so full of passion and questions. I felt close to them and they felt close to me."

"But when I hear that they want to ban my book — in America — I just don't understand. I cannot accept it. Why? America is the largest democracy in the world!...Shame on them," said Satrapi.
It's a facinating question if the board wanted to take it out for the same reasons the UAE and Satrapi's own Iran did - because it's against their oppressive Islamofacist regimes. Chicago's already notorious for the political correctness that plagues almost every neighborhood, and this is another bad step they're making. The real world is unfortunately full of harsh realities, and while I could understand if a fictional movie full of violence isn't something responsible parents and teachers would want to show younger children, a book/graphic novel about real life is something entirely different, and they have every right to know about the horrors Satrapi's native country is being devoured by. It makes no difference even if they're trying to just keep it out of 7th grade classes; that's still censorship, and suppression of vital info.

The Chicago Tribune has more, and quotes Satrapi saying:
“These are not photos of torture. It’s a drawing and it’s one frame. I don’t think American kids of seventh grade have not seen any signs of violence. Seventh graders have brains and they see all kinds of things on cinema and the Internet. It’s a black and white drawing and I’m not showing something extremely horrible. That’s a false argument. They have to give a better explanation.”
What they really have to explain is if they're succumbing to dhimmitude, which I assume is the real reason. Again, it makes little difference if it's just the 7th grade they're trying to remove the book from, it's still an attempt to suppress the student's right to knowledge about a foreign country consumed by a bleak religious mindset.

Update: the good news is that a student group was one of the sources that recognized the blatant censorship in motion by the school boards, and organized a protest against the ban. Which says that the younger generation can understand when an injustice is being performed.

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Has anyone read this? I did some Googling and one review site says it's clearly an adult graphic novel. If accurate, I see little hassle in, if not removing it from a public school library, at least reserving it only for seniors who've reached age 18.

I read another article which said the book was used in a 7th grade curriculum. I find this fascinating. Without parental approval? Hell, I have to send home a permission slip to show a certain pertinent R-rated film in my class for 8th graders!

I think the lack of a dialog with parents is the real telling point here. Taking a book out of a school library is the school's choice, but it should always be discussed with parents.

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