Bay County School District

With the thought that someone can be hurt by reading a book, people will try to challenge and ban them. To ban a book is to have it restricted from a certain age or audience. Banning and challenging books is trying to keep a certain book away from an audience due to sexual content, going against religious beliefs, language and vulgarity, violence, drugs, self-harm, racism, occult/satanic views, promoting gangs, and going against community standards. An argument from someone who believes books should not be banned is that it is important for the age group to learn about certain content and material as they grow up. Due to controversial content, the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald should be banned.

Many books are challenged and banned every year, due to talk about the content in them. “Some of the most controversial books in history are now regarded as classics. The Bible and works by Shakespeare are among those that have been banned over the past two thousand years” (Bannings and Burnings in History). Banning and challenging books started to become recognised almost as a problem in 1982, when the largest number of books at the time had been challenged as not suitable or appropriate for an age group. Ever since than books are criticised for sexual content, going against religious beliefs, language and vulgarity, violence, drugs, self-harm, racism, occult/satanic views, promoting gangs, and going against community standards. An example of a book that clearly has been banned is The Catcher in The Rye by J. D. Salinger, since it has been banned from multiple libraries and schools for sexual and vulgar content (Santipr). Many people whose books have been challenged or banned have argued that the first amendment says something different. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for the redress of grievances” (U.S. Constitution: First Amendment). Freedom of any persons speech to state what they feel, write what they feel, and to publish political and social beliefs/opinions is the basic idea and argument made. This is true, although many parents with kids in elementary, middle, and high school all have different opinions about certain books and what is appropriate for their child's age. Because a school and/or parent can choose what they want the child to learn and be exposed to, they can challenge the book the child is assigned to read.

As expected, the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald has been challenged.“The book has never been formally banned from being taught, though it has faced serious challenges, most notably in 1987 by the Baptist College in Charleston, South Carolina, which challenged the book and called for its banning from public schools”(Sallus). Due to many people finding the book more positive than the negatives, it has never been formally banned from a library or school publically. But that does not mean it has not been seriously challenged. The more recognised time it was challenged was in 1987 by the Baptist College in Charleston, South Carolina. The College decided to try and ban it from its public schools because of ''language and sexual references” (Garrity). The Baptist College failed the attempt to ban it. Around the same time, officials from the Bay County School District in Pensacola, Florida, tried to ban a total of 64 books, with The Great Gatsby. “Bay County School District in Pensacola, Florida, attempted to ban 64 books, including The Great Gatsby for containing inappropriate learning material” (Garrity). Officials from the Bay County School District endorsed these claims by showing that the novel included ''a lot of vulgarity'' as well as curse words. "I don't like vulgarity," said Leonard Hall, Bay County District Superintendent (Garrity) "I don't approve of content like that in my children. I don't approve of it in any child on a school ground” (Lombardi). Out of the 64 books challenged, only 2 books were successfully found not appropriate for the age group, and The Great Gatsby was not one of them. After many other schools and libraries have tried to justify banning The Great Gatsby, the farthest attempt to ban it was when the book was brought to one county Board of Education, where it was deemed appropriate for the grade intended to read it.

Reasons for The Great Gatsby to be banned by schools and libraries that have challenged the book are for sexual references, and just dirty content. An example of this content is in the book “I looked at Miss Baker, wondering what it was she got done. I enjoyed looking at her” (Fitzgerald 13-14). This is a clear example of why the novel should be banned. As Nick Carraway is meeting Tom and Daisy Buchanan, their friend Jordan Baker is at the house. Nick then goes on to talk to her and describe her in an inappropriate manner. “She was a slender, small-breasted girl, with an erect carriage, which she accentuated by throwing her body backward at the shoulders like a young cadet. Her gray sun-strained eyes looked back at me with polite reciprocal curiosity out of a wan, charming, discontented face” (Fitzgerald 1.13-14). These comments are clearly unsuitable for anyone in elementary, and could even be argued that they are inappropriate for middle/high school. These adult references can wrongly influence someone who reads the novel that based on the kind of person Nick is, that it is okay to do what he does. The comment could also not be understood by the reader, which could be in a classroom/library. One more reason the novel should be banned is because it promotes alcoholism and illegal business. "I found out what your 'drug stores' were.’ He turned to us and spoke rapidly. ‘He and this Wolfsheim bought up a lot of side-street drug-stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter. That's one of his little stunts. I picked him for a bootlegger the first time I saw him, and I wasn't far wrong" (Fitzgerald 7.284). This is promoting selling alcohol, along with lots of alcohol consumption in the novel. When a person is reading this, whether they are in middle school or elementary school, they may find that alcohol seems ok and good based on the way it is portrayed and sold illegally in The Great Gatsby.