August 19, 2009



In that case, are the Babar books kept in solitary confinement?


Tin Tin is not the only character under lock and key...If you really want to find out about censorship in America's public libraries and schools check out the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression's new google map detailing incidents of bans and challenges all across our great nation. The map, created to promote Banned Books Week (Sept 26 - Oct 3) can be found on the official BBW website and is well worth checking out!!!!

Tess Rooney

Here in tiny Greymouth in New Zealand "Tintin in the Congo" is sitting right there in the children's section of the library. In fact, having just checked the library's online catalogue there are three copies, two of which are checked out, so it's still popular.


Tintin is clearly racist (at least in the first albums, and much more than Babar) but I don't understand why they ban it in Brooklyn when they should ban it in white areas. The teaching is wrong. People who obviously already know the racist representation of Africa is stupid and wrong won't be affected by it (though maybe a little offended).
As every book, it should be read keeping in mind the context within which it was written. Tintin gives thus an good insight on colonial times and mores.


Well, but racism (and anti-semitism) was so widely accepted in the West, seen as something that could just be assumed to be true, even among the most educated, we would have to ban just about everything published until, say, 1965. Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, J. R. R. Tolkien would all have to be put under lock and key, since they all reflect the racism of their times rather faithfully (and in the case of Wells, a rather rabid anti-semitism).


I don't keeping books under lock an key is ever a good idea--unless it is to keep vandals with food and highlighters and other bad habits from ruining a beautiful book. But even the, what are you gonna do, lock up everything?


The purpose of a library is directly undermined by its possessing a book it does not allow to circulate. Keeping a book off of the generally accessible shelves but allowing it to be taken out or to be read in the library, maybe in a special area, would be better than locking it up entirely.

But I have to say that as a long time reader and fan of the site that I take exception to your language in the original post. To suggest that because of the conditions under which this book is kept that conversations like these "probably won't be happening in Brooklyn" is deeply unfair. I don't know to what extent you've spent time in Brooklyn, but I've lived here for eighteen years and I find that these kinds of conversations happen all the time, everywhere. They're nearly unavoidable. Sometimes the degree of political awareness and thoughtfulness can be grating, but it is a constant reminder that we live in a very open city in a very open society.

I get the gist of what you wrote in your post, but I think you could have been a little less sweeping and a little more fair to Brooklyn as a place where the citizens are aware of the past and its implications in the present.

Thanks for allowing me to post this in response.


Michael, apologies. Your point is fair, what I meant was it won't be happening at the Brooklyn Library, which I shortened to Brooklyn, but I probably should have kept it specific.

Madeleine Conway

This is a complete nonsense - to keep under lock and key a book that can be bought off the internet in a matter of minutes is plain stupid. To say that it is 'not for the public' is an abuse of a library's position - it is not for a library (or its policy-making board) to decide what is and is not for the public. If the library chose not to stock the book, that would be fine, but to keep it and fail to allow the public access to it is an arrogant infringement of a library's commitment to make books accessible.

As for Hergé's "deeply troubling" racism, this simply reflects a deliberate historical blindness. As other commentators have pointed out, it was the default setting of most Europeans of his era and is not an issue that requires "grappling with", simply understanding that times and mores have changed.

Having recently visited the Hergé museum at Louvain La Neuve, it is clear that Hergé was an extremely thoughtful, decent individual. He, like millions of others, accepted unquestioningly the concept of European racial superiority until it was directly challenged by exposure to other cultures, and his books reflect that.

It is a folly to hold authors of another age to account for displaying views that were perfectly acceptable in their own time. Of course that does not mean we need accept those views or espouse them, but it does mean we need to read with sensitivity to the context in which a text was produced. This hardly requires heart-searching over Hergé.

Richard Sharpe

I would agree. Without a doubt it is the function of the library to lend books to readers, not to determine how society should deal with difficult and even dangerous ideas.

The difficulty here is that is in essence a childrens books, and I do believe that children need to be given acess to certain materials in a more structured enviroment.

I think the issue here would better dealt with removing it form a chidlren section into a more suitable situation.

maximin Lida


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Maximin Lida

here the work I did


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