Update: A Tennessee school board's decision to keep Art Spiegelman's Maus out of the hands of 8th-graders has fueled a buying spree. Mediaite reports that as of Sunday, the hardcover format of The Complete Maus is the No. 1 best seller on Amazon in the books category. Other editions sit atop other Amazon lists, including the History, Graphic Novels, and Biographies categories. Meanwhile, Knoxville's Nirvana Comics bookstore launched a GoFundMe that originally planned to buy copies that could be loaned to local students. With contributed funds now nearing $80,000, the goal has shifted to buying copies that will be given to students who are both local and live across the US. Our original story from Thursday follows:
Art Spiegelman's Maus, which tells the story of his Jewish parents' experiences during the Holocaust, is the only graphic novel ever to have won a Pulitzer Prize—but a Tennessee school board has decided it doesn't belong in the curriculum. At a Jan. 10 meeting, the McMinn County Board of Education voted 10-0 to pull the book, which depicts Jews as mice and Nazis as cats, from the eighth-grade curriculum. Members cited concerns including a depiction of a nude female and "rough, objectionable language" like the words "God damn," CNN reports. Board member Tony Allman also complained about violence. "It shows people hanging, it shows them killing kids, why does the educational system promote this kind of stuff?" he said. "It is not wise or healthy."
Allman said that if he had a child in eighth grade, he would "homeschool him or put him somewhere else" instead of exposing him to the "vulgar and inappropriate" content, per the Guardian. Mike Cochran, another board member, said it might be necessary to "relook at the entire curriculum” out of concerns it might have been developed to "normalize nudity and normalize vulgar language." Programs supervisor Melasawn Knight defended the book. "People did hang from trees, people did commit suicide, and people were killed, over 6 million were murdered," she told the meeting. "I think the author is portraying that because it is a true story about his father that lived through that."
The board discussed redacting some content but decided to just ban the book instead of creating possible copyright issues. In a tweet, the US Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, said Maus has "played a vital role in educating about the Holocaust through sharing detailed and personal experiences of victims and survivors." Spiegelman found out about the ban after a tweet on it circulated Wednesday—the day before Holocaust Remembrance Day—and he tells CNBC the decision to ban the book is "Orwellian." "There's something going on very, very haywire there," he said. Author Neil Gaiman also slammed the move. "There's only one kind of people who would vote to ban Maus, whatever they are calling themselves these days," he tweeted. (Read more Holocaust stories.)