Book Banning: "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain
"The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" is a classic 19th century novel by American author Mark Twain. It is the story of the eponymous character Tom Sawyer and some of the trouble this young lad gets into in his fictional hometown of St. Petersburg, Missouri. In the novel, Tom Sawyer gets in trouble with his guardian, falls in love, falls in with the wayward Huckleberry Finn, they land themselves in trouble with Injun Joe and then become something like local heroes. "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" is an innocent enough novel but, like so many before it, it has come under scrutiny and been banned in its time.
In 1905, Mark Twain, whose real name was Samuel Clemens, commented himself on the matter of his two most popular characters, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, being banned from children's areas in libraries. Tom and Huck, while considered rather tame today, were the epitome of naughty boys in Twain's day, so some adults, a woman in this case, took it upon themselves to complain. Mark Twain's response was that his books on the two young men were never meant for children and that he was "troubled" that children had access to them to begin with.
Well, Mark Twain would probably be shocked to learn that "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" is pretty much standard reading for young children these days. However, one can take away from his response to the complaints and bannings that it is the responsibility of libraries, schools and parents to filter the content given to children. He does not go on to express an opinion on book bannings themselves, in this particular missive.
When it comes to "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," this was not the only complaint by a long shot. They continue to this day. In fact, I myself heard a rumor that it was going to be edited for content we would consider racist today. Just like bannings, I find the idea ridiculous. By all means, be careful what your children read, but do not deny the rights of others to read what they wish. Surely, raise your children to be fair and to treat people of all races as equals, but do not whitewash the past. "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" is a wonderful book. Given that its author is long gone, it should remain just as it is today for Mark Twain is not here to change it and no one living should have the nerve to change or ban the words of a man like Mark Twain.