In 1992, a California middle school ordered teachers to cover up all “obscene” words in Fahrenheit 451 with black marker before issuing copies to students. The school stopped this practice after local newspapers commented on the irony of defacing a book that condemns censorship.

Fahrenheit 451

In the years since its publication, Fahrenheit 451 has occasionally been banned, censored, or redacted in some schools at the behest of parents or teaching staff either unaware of or indifferent to the inherent irony in such censorship. Notable incidents include:

In 1987, Fahrenheit 451 was given “third tier” status by the Bay County School Board in Panama City, Florida, under then-superintendent Leonard Hall’s new three-tier classification system. Third tier was meant for books to be removed from the classroom for “a lot of vulgarity.” After a resident class-action lawsuit, a media stir, and student protests, the school board abandoned their tier-based censorship system and approved all the currently used books.

In 1992, Venad… Continue Reading (8 minute read)

13 thoughts on “In 1992, a California middle school ordered teachers to cover up all “obscene” words in Fahrenheit 451 with black marker before issuing copies to students. The school stopped this practice after local newspapers commented on the irony of defacing a book that condemns censorship.”

  1. MackTuesday

    Heh, Venado Middle School. I went there 87-89 and my English teacher had us do this. I remember thinking, “Really? You need us to mark out ‘damn’?” It looks like it wasn’t her call though. It’s funny because the school was pretty normal in other ways.

  2. Smiling_Mister_J

    Maybe the most interesting part of this is that it got enough attention to warrant a response from Ray Bradbury, who decided that he was okay with it.

    His justification was that the message was unchanged, and the method of delivering that message wasn’t changed in any meaningful way.

    He basically likened it to modernizing the text to deliver the same message in a format appropriate to an audience of a different generation.

  3. JoshDaws

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Fahrenheit 451 isnt about government censorship. It’s about people becoming so obsessed with easily consumed mass media that they’re frightened of the slow considerations of books. The government didn’t decide to burn books, society demanded they do it *he said with no irony on a social media site*

  4. RunDNA

    I remember watching the film of 1984 in high school. When any sex scene came on, my prudish English teacher went up to the TV and tried to cover any nudity with her hands, much to the frustration of the teenage boys in the class.

    I still saw some bush, though.

  5. stuartsparadox

    The entry from Texas is even more ironic. It was a selection chosen for banned book week and a students parents wanted it banned. Admittedly it was the school and only a set of parents, but damn, context people.

  6. Korvun

    Kind of like schools getting rid of “*To kill a Mockingbird”* for being racist… smh

  7. BuckNutley

    My memory of reading Fahrenheit 451 was that it was about the dumbing down and control of society, not censorship…even though it may be condemning censorship it isn’t about censorship specifically.

  8. fatherfrank1

    >In 2006, parents of a 10th-grade high school student in Montgomery County, Texas, demanded the book be banned from their daughter’s English class reading list.[79] Their daughter was assigned the book during Banned Books Week, but stopped reading several pages in due to what she considered the offensive language and description of the burning of the Bible.

    I just don’t understand why a book, especially one that has been issued as part of the curriculum, would be just things you want to hear about. Go ahead and be offended, Texas girl, and then finish the novel. If the novel has not given you any insight, raise your objection with the class to discuss. If something offends you, it should be the beginning of a conversation, not the end of one.

  9. open_door_policy

    What censorship? The words had always been redacted.

  10. NWBoomer

    A coworker was telling me about parents at her child’s school censoring books in the school library. One of the books they wanted removed from the school library was titled *”Making It with Mademoiselle”*.

    It was a book of sewing patterns from *Mademoiselle* magazine.

  11. thirdeyefish

    My district pulled 1984 from the curriculum before I entered high school. Catcher in the Rye was cut shortly after I read it. It saddened me even then.

  12. FUZxxl

    Americans and swear words never fail to amuse me.

  13. LunaAndromeda

    My English teacher in Junior year of high school made us do that too. I think it was a Greek mythology book? Anyway, I thought it was an incredibly dumb thing to do when she knew we were all way beyond old enough for “bad words.”

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