Author Topic: Cancelling Dr. Seuss  (Read 6609 times)

Caracal

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Re: Cancelling Dr. Seuss
« Reply #30 on: March 13, 2021, 06:51:11 AM »
Yes, it's best to take a picture or two, or a page or two, out of such books, and replace them. The Great Soviet Encyclopedia was updated in that fashion from time to time.

I mean that's sort of how all encyclopedias work...

In general this discussion is so strange. You guys know these are books for kindergarters right? There's a bit of a different standard in terms of troubling content than if we were talking about The Great Gatsby.

If a children's book had one page that described Canadians as people who play hockey and eat poutine, I wouldn't have a case of the vapours and demand its banning, even though I don't do either of those things. Many people in Canada do one or both of those things, and I don't for one microsecond believe that a kid reading that book is going to have a psychic break if they visit Canada and fail to find anyone doing either of those things.

Kindergartner's books often contain magic, talking animals, and so on. Is that "troubling content"?

Is it really necessary for us to explain that stereotypes come in different shapes and the larger context around them matters? I'm Jewish. One stereotype of Jews is that we are all highly educated and work as doctors, lawyers and academics. If a children's book has one jewish character and he's a doctor, I might roll my eyes a bit. Couldn't the Jewish character be something else? But, well, I do know a lot of Jewish doctors, and I'm a Jewish academic, and if the character is a kindly doctor who helps people...there are worse stereotypes...

On the other hand if the Jewish doctor is only in it for the money and cheats all the other characters..can you see the difference? Playing hockey on ponds in the winter isn't generally associated with anything particularly negative. Nobody justified murders of Canadians on the basis that they played hockey on the backs of hard working Americans.

mahagonny

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Re: Cancelling Dr. Seuss
« Reply #31 on: March 13, 2021, 07:07:04 AM »
Quote
This is one of those things people say, which, if you know anything about the history, is just totally meaningless. It is basically akin to saying that the Irish saved civilization, or Jews created the polio vaccine, although it actually has less specificity than those incredibly broad and silly claims.

Who the heck is "the west." It like a club of white leaders who you imagine met in 1830 and decided to end slavery? Because thats....not what happened. Also does "the west" include people of African descent, because they were really crucial in movements to end slavery. And where are we taking about here? Haiti, where slavery was destroyed by a massive slave revolt? The British Empire? The United States where slavery ended during a Civil War where enslaved people basically revolted against the confederacy and played a crucial part in its destruction. Just a silly statement.

May I quote you?
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apl68

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Re: Cancelling Dr. Seuss
« Reply #32 on: March 13, 2021, 07:08:25 AM »
During one of my annual spring conferences attendance at Pratt Library in Baltimore City, one of the library staff mentioned To Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street since the original central library was built facing Mulberry St. When I think of this book that I read as a kid, this little tidbit comes to mind!

I've thought the same thing when I've seen an actual Mulberry Street.  I wonder how many real-life Mulberry Streets there are?  It's a fairly common name.  We don't have one in our town, but there is one in the county seat less than half an hour from here.
Don't lay up treasures for yourselves on Earth, where they can decay or be stolen.  Lay up treasures for yourselves in Heaven, where there is no decay or theft.  Where your treasure is, you heart will be also.


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apl68

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Re: Cancelling Dr. Seuss
« Reply #33 on: March 13, 2021, 07:24:09 AM »
Over the years, our public library has periodically had a display about books which were historically banned, making the point that book-banning (or burning) is, in hindsight, a really bad thing. It's sad to see those same organizations now seriously contemplating removing "inappropriate" books.


You might be surprised to learn about library collection 'weeding' practices...

Just an ordinary part of doing business.  If it's not a research or archival library then it's understood that most books that come in will sooner or later outlive their usefulness and have to be removed to make way for new ones.  I prefer the analogy of "pruning" to that of "weeding."  The books removed aren't unwanted intruders in the garden.  They're no longer useful dead wood that needs to be removed for the sake of keeping the whole healthy.

Marshwiggle, there is not, to my knowledge, any movement in the library world at this time to ban certain items that are no longer welcome.  I strongly suspect that much of the ALA's leadership would dearly love to sweep away all sorts of material that they don't like.  They give the impression of being an extremely "woke" bunch of people, which is why some of us librarians out in the provinces prefer to confine our professional activity to our state organizations--we don't feel welcome at ALA.  But thus far their commitment to intellectual freedom remains firm enough and consistent enough that they don't try it.

Every librarian has had the experience of buying, cataloging, checking out, or otherwise handling items that he or she feels very strongly against.  I have books that I'd honestly rather not have in the collection cross my desk all the time on the way out to the public.  I've also often refrained from purchasing items for the collection that I'd like to have, but that I know would be unlikely to see much use by our public (The collection development budget isn't there for my personal use).  It's all a part of the job.
Don't lay up treasures for yourselves on Earth, where they can decay or be stolen.  Lay up treasures for yourselves in Heaven, where there is no decay or theft.  Where your treasure is, you heart will be also.


You can't take it with you.  You can only send it on ahead.

marshwiggle

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Re: Cancelling Dr. Seuss
« Reply #34 on: March 13, 2021, 07:44:16 AM »

Marshwiggle, there is not, to my knowledge, any movement in the library world at this time to ban certain items that are no longer welcome.  I strongly suspect that much of the ALA's leadership would dearly love to sweep away all sorts of material that they don't like.  They give the impression of being an extremely "woke" bunch of people, which is why some of us librarians out in the provinces prefer to confine our professional activity to our state organizations--we don't feel welcome at ALA.  But thus far their commitment to intellectual freedom remains firm enough and consistent enough that they don't try it.

Every librarian has had the experience of buying, cataloging, checking out, or otherwise handling items that he or she feels very strongly against.  I have books that I'd honestly rather not have in the collection cross my desk all the time on the way out to the public.  I've also often refrained from purchasing items for the collection that I'd like to have, but that I know would be unlikely to see much use by our public (The collection development budget isn't there for my personal use).  It's all a part of the job.

You have the attitude that I admire in librarians. I'm glad that you sense the comittment to intellectual freedom is still solid, since you'll obviously have a much more informed opinion than what may appear in the media. And of course, one of the reasons not to ban "offensive" material is that the ban generates more interest in it. As the legalization of cannabis has shown, making something accessible is actually a good way to make it less desirable.

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apl68

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Re: Cancelling Dr. Seuss
« Reply #35 on: March 13, 2021, 07:47:43 AM »
Basically there's just a banned Dr. Seuss books bubble, right? I can't imagine these books are actually rare. They've been in print for decades without interruption and there must be tens of thousands of copies out there. I'm sure three weeks ago you could have gotten a used copy for 5 bucks on Amazon. Obviously, some of the increased demand for used copies is real, probably mostly driven by people who want copies to make an ideological point, but I'm sure there are plenty of copies out there to meet that demand. Actually, copies don't really appear to be scarce at all, just absurdly expensive.

I can't imagine there are many people out there who are going to buy some 90s printing of a Dr. Seuss book for 200 dollars just so they can express their feelings about cancel culture. To the extent that anybody is buying these things, it is presumably in the belief that they are going to go up even more in value. The problem is that there are lots of copies sitting around in boxes in people's basements and some of those people are going to hear they might be valuable, dig them up and try to sell them and the whole thing is going to crash very quickly.

That's probably true.  If that happens, then libraries that have pulled their copies from circulation will probably feel safe letting them go back to being normal library books. 

So, no harm done in the long run?  Probably.  In the near term, though, the hysteria and speculation that today's viral media are so effective at making more extreme than ever are creating a good deal of disruption.  And needless hurt feelings and antagonism, which will linger as part of the growing mass of such junk that pervades our society now.  A lot of people are coming out of this thing looking awfully foolish, and refusing to see or admit how foolish they've made themselves look.  Given the volatility of the cultural environment, it probably would have been best if the copyright holder had just quietly ceased production, instead of trying to use it as an opportunity for virtue signalling. 

Incidentally, we've pulled (for now) our copy of If I Ran the Circus, on the concern that it could easily be confused with the discontinued If I Ran the Zoo.
Don't lay up treasures for yourselves on Earth, where they can decay or be stolen.  Lay up treasures for yourselves in Heaven, where there is no decay or theft.  Where your treasure is, you heart will be also.


You can't take it with you.  You can only send it on ahead.

fishbrains

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Re: Cancelling Dr. Seuss
« Reply #36 on: March 13, 2021, 11:47:32 AM »

Kindergartner's books often contain magic, talking animals, and so on. Is that "troubling content"?

Hmmm . . . I'm pretty sure I can trace a direct line from my childrens' depravity now as adults back to their watching the Muppets. Frogs kissing pigs, Gonzo f*cking chickens, that pervert Elmo wanting to be "tickled" all the time. How else did I expect them to turn out?
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dismalist

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Re: Cancelling Dr. Seuss
« Reply #37 on: March 13, 2021, 04:37:24 PM »

Kindergartner's books often contain magic, talking animals, and so on. Is that "troubling content"?

Hmmm . . . I'm pretty sure I can trace a direct line from my childrens' depravity now as adults back to their watching the Muppets. Frogs kissing pigs, Gonzo f*cking chickens, that pervert Elmo wanting to be "tickled" all the time. How else did I expect them to turn out?

Muppets, schmuppets.  I am sure I can trace my now grown child's intelligence and sanity to my prompt railing against Captain Planet, who was and remains a fool. :-)
We have met the enemy, and they is us.
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Wahoo Redux

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Re: Cancelling Dr. Seuss
« Reply #38 on: March 13, 2021, 05:26:40 PM »

Kindergartner's books often contain magic, talking animals, and so on. Is that "troubling content"?

Hmmm . . . I'm pretty sure I can trace a direct line from my childrens' depravity now as adults back to their watching the Muppets. Frogs kissing pigs, Gonzo f*cking chickens, that pervert Elmo wanting to be "tickled" all the time. How else did I expect them to turn out?

Muppets, schmuppets.  I am sure I can trace my now grown child's intelligence and sanity to my prompt railing against Captain Planet, who was and remains a fool. :-)

I was ruined by the Bugaloos. 

larryc

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Re: Cancelling Dr. Seuss
« Reply #39 on: March 13, 2021, 07:19:55 PM »
No one has been canceled--or at least not Dr. Seuss or Rowling.

Be smarter.

mahagonny

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Re: Cancelling Dr. Seuss
« Reply #40 on: March 14, 2021, 07:13:18 AM »
I was gonna say, wisecracking, keep him around. If the left cancels everybody who might offend members of disenfranchised groups, they might run out of moves. They're not gonna win elections because people love teacher's unions. But TBT, the left knows the same thing as everyone else. Geisel was a treasure, whether with rhymes, themes or cartoons. If you have  minute, take a look at this link. These people might be wonderful, but we'd be amazed if any of the ten is another Geisel.
His gift, in my opinion, was he was never maudlin or preachy and he didn't talk down to you. He conveyed right-thinking stuff while making you laugh and drawing you into the characters. the moral lesson was there but it wasn't the whole show.
https://books.childrensbookassociation.com/top-10-psychologist-recommended-menu-03-10-21-cs?utm_source=CS&utm_campaign=%5BON%5D%2003.03.21%20-%20CS%20-%20Top%2010%20-%20Mental%20Health%20Interests&utm_medium=facebook&s1=CS&s3=%5BON%5D%2003.03.21%20-%20CS%20-%20Top%2010%20-%20Mental%20Health%20Interests&s4=facebook&cep=mxiAg_B_ix5pMYKs0iMMK3qmzJLRKF5AbhKwJRkBp-QtbFcsOR0G5vQuziOCVckcPlpNEonPoaT75tRh7Vmv5r0nXu_MF_91mb-_YKL8FA96dbXGndaiE439y2tDVXRAYBmONHaEN-btDL6bGgnGetq72-tYpC0p7f04azd-DLge7kYF8KyGMgR-Zvc7gBuRPGFoa0Ex0a9SKC-hBYb3FSXghS90MG2pr5Uz4MkxWSqgcZsIisqmR0FSlejDopznPw60WgCqzBhtJeLWne7JDFyj0yyhDDWXAg1gJ-om4AD0wH_X7N0adReLt9Wqm3-Cst8RPhSK3kXAqUYH2xuj1XjFE4XUkuEDDcI0bspZ-lmUqJ6Qq4UNuTUBc3Bz8XJU3m6YKCpgUv6ZmedDYvtZpX3OqYxDK_4CW7lbVID-6rlYfsUTkfZqDEKqYQXaSrTKfHAVslcG7Rw_sKboCl8Fx57nDzVf5hAZ8u9XtV9aYz_-IDl46pKqud3DUA8PuTXS&lptoken=163d1506733d26a40043&fbclid=IwAR0X_IOKhIZ3xezVOBpa7kmwHO3tPx1GqODipo4ih6x0I29dAFJgoOMP9Xc

Bill Maher:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DH4v6FnbvM
« Last Edit: March 14, 2021, 08:10:30 AM by mahagonny »
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Sun_Worshiper

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Re: Cancelling Dr. Seuss
« Reply #41 on: March 14, 2021, 09:37:58 AM »
In this case there has not been any "cancelling" by the left, but rather a business decision by the estate to discontinue production of the books. This will probably be great for their brand in the long run: Conservatives are buying Dr. Seuss books in protest (apparently not understanding that this will enrich the publisher that cancelled their beloved racist children's books) and the publisher gets woke points for being so forward thinking. And in two weeks we'll be on to some other phony controversy and nobody will care about this.

mahagonny

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Re: Cancelling Dr. Seuss
« Reply #42 on: March 14, 2021, 12:01:28 PM »
The left wants the controversy, but when it's not going over and instead backfiring they try to reel it in, i.e. 'you guys are making a big deal over nothing.'

This is mainstream higher education humanities professor, San Francisco, CNN, Cambridge thinking (with thanks to Wahoo redux):

'I just had this brief debate on another forum with a person who refused to believe that Seuss was racist.  Before that I argued with someone on this same forum who argued that because slavery was a historical reality, Gone With the Wind was not a racist movie.

The thing is, the Western World in general was very racist, and our pop-culture reflects this.  We will always find racism and sexism and Orientalism of all kinds if we look back.  We will find racism over and over and over.  People, including writers and artists and filmmakers, simply embraced racism in their works.

The question is whether we can conquer our own time's racism by pointing out what we already know over and over again.

Anybody remember the "‘Mary Poppins,’ and a Nanny’s Shameful Flirting With Blackface"?'



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dismalist

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Re: Cancelling Dr. Seuss
« Reply #43 on: March 14, 2021, 12:46:25 PM »
Quote
In this case there has not been any "cancelling" by the left, but rather a business decision by the estate to discontinue production of the books.

And this business decision was wise because?
We have met the enemy, and they is us.
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ciao_yall

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Re: Cancelling Dr. Seuss
« Reply #44 on: March 14, 2021, 01:09:05 PM »
When I saw the images I thought they probably weren't meant to be offensive at the time. At the time, similar images were seen in National Geographic, neighborhoods filled with new immigrants, photos from people who had travelled in cultures that had not been as globalized/Westernized as they have been today.

Mr. Geisel and his publishers, likely all educated white people, probably saw the world through this lens. Do these images reduce people to "other" characteristics? Yes, they do. At best, these images seem dated and condescending by people who assumed their culture was the best, the ideal, that others were striving to achieve.

Had someone Black, Asian or otherwise pointed out at the time that these images somehow stereotyping or objectifying, one can imagine the puzzled look on the faces of Geisel and his league. "But that's what they look like, isn't it?"