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maus, texas book ban

Prize-winning graphic novel "Maus" is being banned in some states.

The topic of censorship has been a heated one recently. Making the most headlines is the proposed book ban in Texas, with nearly 100 school districts calling to remove library books that deal with race, racism, sex, gender and sexuality.

NBC listed 50 titles that parents have tried to ban in Texas, and the list includes highly acclaimed works such as “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, “The Perks of Being A Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky and “The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison.

But it’s not just Texas. Book bans are spreading across the country so fast, you’d think we’re living out Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” Which, ironically, doesn't seem to be prohibited yet (this time, at least).

One comic shop owner decided to take a stand by sending free copies of a graphic novel deemed “too graphic” for eighth grade curriculums. And because of his actions, others are following suit.


When Ryan Higgins, owner of Sunnyvale’s Comics Conspiracy (cool shop name), heard the news that Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize winning “Maus” was pulled from the curriculum by the McMinn County Board of Education in Tennessee, he was baffled.

"You can't teach the Holocaust without showing the most graphic imagery that humanity has ever seen,” Higgins told SFGATE. “["Maus"] is nothing compared to the actual thing. It's just mind-boggling that they'd remove it. It's one of the most acclaimed graphic novels of all time, it's just a seminal work. It's been taught in schools and libraries and colleges for decades at this point."

Maus” depicts the story of Spiegelman’s parents experiencing the Holocaust and their imprisonment at Auschwitz. In the comic, Jews are represented by mice, Germans by cats, Poles by pigs, Americans by dogs and Swedish by deer. Like "Watchmen" and "The Dark Knight Returns," “Maus” played a pivotal role in bringing mature comics to the mainstream.

So why was it banned? Over complaints of profanity and nudity. In particular, a dead nude female mouse, in a scene that reflected the suicide of Spiegelman’s mother.

In USA TODAY, Spiegelman himself called the decision a “culture war that’s gotten totally out of control.”

In anti-Orwellian fashion, Higgins offered to donate up to 100 copies of “Maus” to any interested family in the McMinn County area.

Though Higgins has made similar offers in the past, this time around, the pledge went viral. And now it’s a full-blown movement. By Sunday, the complete edition of "Maus" had nabbed the No. 1 spot on the Amazon books best sellers list.

Nirvana Comics in Knoxville has created a fundraiser to help provide more copies to students. Its goal was to raise $20,000. So far, it has raised more than $100,000.

On the fundraiser website, Nirvana Comics hailed Spiegelman’s work as a “masterpiece,” and “one of the most important, impactful and influential graphic novels of all time.”

“We believe it is a must read for everyone,” the store stated.

For Higgins, standing up for impactful works of art is more than fighting the status quo. It’s about being a force for good.

The shop owner told the The Washington Post: ”When thought-provoking comic books and graphic novels are banned, this hits my world. Sending out free copies of ‘Maus’ is something I can do. If even one kid reads it and it changes their world, that’s a wonderful thing.”

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Democracy

Appalachian mom's speech on Kentucky's proposed abortion ban is a must-hear for everyone

Danielle Kirk is speaking up for those often overlooked in our cultural debates.

Canva, courtesy of Danielle Kirk

Appalachian mom gives passionate speech.

Many people felt a gut punch when the Supreme Court issued its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the decades-old Roe v. Wade decision that protected a woman's right to an abortion. However, for some this was a call to action.

Danielle Kirk, 27, a mom of two and an activist on TikTok, used her voice in an attempt to educate the people that make decisions in her small town. Kirk lives in Kentucky where a trigger law came into effect immediately after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Being a former foster child, she knew she had to say something. Kirk spoke exclusively with Upworthy about why she decided to speak up.

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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