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Persepolis graphic novel banned in Pennsylvania school district

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Despite its initial approval, the Franklin Regional School District in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is now withdrawing Persepolis due to parental pressure.

One of the most groundbreaking graphic novels ever to hit shelves, Persepolis, was deemed too inappropriate to teach in a Philadelphia school district during the latest shocking round of book bans. At Marjane Satrapi Persepolis serves as both an autobiography of Satrapi’s life in Iran and Austria, as well as a social commentary centered on themes of war, religion, identity and social injustice. The popularity of Persepolis spawned a sequel by Satrapi, Persepolis 2: The Story of a Returnas well as a feature film adaptation that was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

Meanwhile, the graphic novel itself has earned itself a famous story among one of the greatest books of all time. However, to the extent that the graphic novel has been critically challenged on a political level, it has also always been subject to censorship. To date, censorship of Persepolis and other books like this remain a matter of contention.

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For example, the last to challenge the philosophies introduced by Persepolis served as the Franklin Regional School District in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. According to cartoon beat, the program committee had previously voted to approve teaching Persepolis in classrooms during last year’s review, but the decision raised concern among parents during the public review of the program this year. Complaints about “scenes of violence and torture” and the use of “the F-word” was enough to remove the book from the curriculum (essentially ban it from the district) until a recommendation was made to the school board as to whether or not it was worth moving forward with the book teaching.


The news comes after equally celebrated, but controversial, graphic novels received their own bans. For example, Maus (another autobiographical graphic novel, this time by Art Spiegelman) was removed from the McMinn County School Board in Tennessee because it was decided in January to remove the book from its schools, deeming it too inappropriate for students. While it is undeniable that the two Persepolis and Maus are graphic, books like these exist to reflect the harsher nature of reality. In doing so, these stories do not promote violence or bigotry, but serve as cautionary tales about the potential dangers of a world that continues to repeat the uglier sides of its history. The best way for readers, especially impressionable young people, to learn not to repeat the mistakes of the past is for them to learn this history and start a dialogue.


This must be daunting not only for avid comic book readers, but also for those who love books like Persepolis who provides intelligent and thought-provoking commentary on his admittedly provocative subject matter. It’s a sign that either the critical parents don’t understand the author’s intentions with the book, or the parents are underestimating how well children can decipher the difference between comments and actual harmful messages. It is certainly a shame that any book even deemed mildly controversial is banned. At any rate, Persepolis is an important book which amply deserves the wide acclaim it has received.


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Source: cartoon beat

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