American school bans teaching of Pulitzer prize-winning Holocaust book

Maus author Art Spiegelman called the decision 'demented'


US comic book artist Art Spiegelman poses on March 20, 2012 in Paris, prior to the private viewing of his exhibition 'Co-Mix', which will run from March 21 to May 21, 2012 at the Pompidou centre. The Swedish-born New Yorker Spiegelman, 62, is known as the creator of "Maus", an animal fable of his Jewish father's experience in the Holocaust -- the only comic book to have won a Pulitzer Prize, the top US book award. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS (Photo by BERTRAND LANGLOIS / AFP) (Photo by BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP via Getty Images)

A school in Tennessee has banned an award-winning book on the Holocaust from its schools, citing the use of profanity including the phrase “God Damn” and illustrations of naked women.

According to local news site, TNHoller, the vote passed unanimously as school board members lined up to criticise the book for its supposedly graphic content.

Tony Allman, a board member in McMinn county said: “Why does the educational system promote this kind of stuff, it is not wise or healthy… I am not denying it was horrible, brutal, and cruel. It’s like when you’re watching tv and a cuss word or nude scene comes on it would be the same movie without it. Well, this would be the same book without it…"

The discussion of the book largely focused on the inclusion of minor swear words and not on the subject matter of the Holocaust. Some teachers spoke in defense of the critically acclaimed graphic novel, with one saying: "I was a history teacher and there is nothing pretty about the Holocaust and for me this was a great way to depict a horrific time in history.

"Mr. Spiegelman did his very best to depict his mother passing away and we are almost 80 years away. It’s hard for this generation, these kids don’t even know 9/11, they were not even born. For me this was his way to convey the message."

Maus, a graphic novel serialized from 1980 to 1991, depicts author Art Spiegelman interviewing his father about his experiences as a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor.

In 1992, it became the first graphic novel to win the esteemed Pulitzer prize for fiction, and remains the only cartoon to have won the award 30 years later.

In an interview with CNBC, Spiegelman branded the decision "orwellian" saying: “It’s leaving me with my jaw open, like, ‘What?’

“I’ve met so many young people who have learned things from my book...I also understand that Tennessee is obviously demented. There’s something going on very, very haywire there.”

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