A children’s book has been targeted by a conservative group for its role in contributing to the decay of American values by daring to show an image of two seahorses hugging. The attempted ban is part of an ongoing effort by the group to remove books from school curriculums that they deem to be inappropriate for a number of reasons, including aquatic equestrian snuggling.
Moms For Liberty, a nonprofit whose idea of being “dedicated to fighting for the survival of America” — and certainly must include one person named “Karen” — is offering to pay $500 for anyone who can catch teachers in New Hampshire discussing racism or sexism in school, has called for Sea Horse: The Shyest Fish in the Sea to be banned from being taught in schools in Williamson County, Tennessee.
The reason for the crusade? The book, which has been rated for kids from kindergarten through grade 2 by the American Library Association, features an illustration of two seahorses hugging tightly and includes positively scandalous passages such as, “They twist their tails together and twirl gently around, changing color until they match” and “the two of them dance until sunset and then she puts her eggs into his pouch.”
In an email to The Daily Beast, a representative of the Moms for Liberty chapter in Williamson County wrote that the book could be taught to children in eighth grade, but no younger. Because if one thing is guaranteed to corrupt the youth, it’s having to read about seahorses twisting their tails together. (Yes, this happening at the time a school board was banning the graphic novel, Maus.)
In a controversial move, the Williamson County Schools committee flagged Sea Horse: The Shyest Fish in the Sea and six other books (including Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet) for use with “instructional adjustments,” while altogether banning Walk Two Moons, a book about a 13-year-old girl with Native American heritage.
This is all part of a larger trend across the county of politicians, school boards, and parent groups like, but not limited to, the Moms for Liberty wanting more input into what children can be taught at schools.
In the most innocuous forms, these books about sea horses get banned because they show “sexual content.” But books of all types can be targeted in these bans, including if they could, conceivably, make kids “uncomfortable” about race by talking about the Civil Rights Movement or history in general, etc. And some books — like Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus, a graphic novel about the Holocaust, can be banned because of the depiction of “nudity” without considering the context with which the “depiction of nudity” is shown.
Moms For Liberty has called for 31 books to be removed from the curriculum, including a story about Johnny Appleseed because “the story is sad and dark” and a book about Martin Luther King Jr. for being too divisive.
It’s fun to laugh at a group like this for being outraged over sea horses until you remember how dangerous and powerful they can actually be. And sadly, these types of battles are being fought all across the country, as Moms For Liberty and similar groups fight to get books taken out of the classroom if they find them objectionable.
We think Sea Horse: The Shyest Fish in the Sea is worth reading, and you can make up your own mind. Get it right here.
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