Persepolis. It wasn’t just a bureaucratic mistake. Byrd-Bennett really banned the book. On purpose.

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A reporter from a national publication called and asked why I thought this was all happening.

Echoing the views of many CPS teachers, I said that it is so dumb that it must be the typical bureaucratic crap that goes on in CPS all the time.

But I was wrong.

CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett actually banned the book.

On purpose.

With intent.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said Friday that the book “Persepolis” should not be used with seventh graders because it contains “graphic language and images.”

Byrd-Bennett’s statement comes after Lane Tech College Prep Principal Christopher Dignam sent out an email about Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel, saying he was directed by CPS officials to remove the book.

Teachers, parents and students had called for a protest at the North Side high school Friday afternoon.

“Persepolis,” described by Time magazine as a memoir of girl growing up in Iran who has “an obsession with becoming God’s new prophet,” has been banned in Iran, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates because some Muslims consider it blasphemous.

The schools CEO said the move to remove the book from its 7th grade curriculum came after “it was brought to our attention that it contains graphic language and images that are not appropriate for general use” for that age group.

Byrd-Bennett added that CPS is considering whether the book, because of “graphic images of torture,” should be used in the curriculum of eighth through tenth grades.

Byrd-Bennett’s statement followed reports of the book being removed from Lane Tech, which some characterized as a threat to free speech. Lane educates some 7th and 8th graders.

However, Byrd-Bennett said, “we are not banning this book from our schools.”

A distinction without a difference.

This from the woman who thought all those thousands of people at community hearings were supporting the closing of Chicago schools.

5 Replies to “Persepolis. It wasn’t just a bureaucratic mistake. Byrd-Bennett really banned the book. On purpose.”

  1. The banning has already been documented on Wikipedia. #5 on Newsweek bet book list and film nominated for Academy Award. I saw nothing on the extensive Wikipedia piece about objectionable content. However this review comment is probably fodder or conservative mania: The comics were generally well received in Western countries following its release. For example, TIME included the first part in its “Best Comics of 2003” list.[2] Andrew Arnold of TIME described the Persepolis as “sometimes funny and sometimes sad but always sincere and revealing.”[3] Kristin Anderson of The Oxonian Review of Books of Balliol College, University of Oxford said “While Persepolis’ feistiness and creativity pay tribute as much to Satrapi herself as to contemporary Iran, if her aim is to humanise her homeland, this amiable, sardonic and very candid memoir couldn’t do a better job.”[4]

  2. I love how she “clarified” her position on ripping the book off the library shelves, which she obviously previously ordered, judging from the Lane Tech principal’s email. So by clarify she means change without acknowledging an error.

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