The McMinn County School Board in Tennessee, USA, has voted unanimously to remove Art Spiegelman’s award-winning graphic novel ‘Maus’ from the language arts curriculum. All under the argument that the novel contains “blasphemy and female nudity.”
Before we go on, a bit of background: ‘Maus’ is a story about the Holocaust, or rather, it’s the story about how Spiegelman’s parents survived World War II and the concentration camps, his mother’s suicide and the complicated relationship he had with his father.
Given the rawness of his story, Spiegelman turned the characters into animals: his father and the Jewish characters are mice, the Nazis are cats, the allies are dogs, and so on.
The work was the first comic to win the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Literature, among many other awards, as well as being considered one of the most important comics in history.
The graphic novel was banned by the McMinn County School Board because it used words like “God” or “damn” as an insult, as well as being deemed “graphically exciting to students”. US media say this censorship comes amid a series of battles in school systems across the country, as conservatives target curricula over teaching on the history of slavery and racism in the United States.
In an interview, Art Spiegelman, the author of ‘Maus’, called the decision “Orwellian”:
“I’m baffled by this. It just blows my mind, like, ‘What?’ I’ve met so many young people who learned things from my book. I also understand that in Tennessee they’re obviously crazy,” Spiegelman said. “Something is going very, very crazy there.”
Once the news of the censorship was released, ‘Maus’ achieved something that had never happened in its 42 years of life: becoming the twelfth best-selling novel on Amazon.