// s u g a r a x i e . . . (sugaraxie) wrote in ohnotheydidnt,
// s u g a r a x i e . . .

Publisher Cries "Censorship" After Getting Called Out on Their Shit

Abrams Books, a publisher of illustrated books (known for Diary of a Wimpy Kid), came under fire recently after they published a book entitled "Bad Little Children's Books." The book is a compilation of "satirized" covers of children's books geared towards adults and meant to be humorous. However, after a piece on Book Riot, some of the pages of this book began to draw many eyebrows from the book community.

One of the most widely circulated pages of this book is an Islamophobic image of a little girl in a head covering bringing a bomb-wrapped present for her friend. The title on this cover is "Happy Burkaday, Timmy" and is authored by a "Ben Laden."

Another one related to Islam, authored and illustrated by "A. Yatollah."

Other circulated pages are one about Navajo small pox blankets. (Debbie Reese wrote a piece about why this image is offensive on her American Indians in Children's Literature blog. You can find it here.)

East-Asian drivers.

And "creepy" uncle making a dick shadow puppet (because child abuse and grooming is so funny).

This was of note to many because the author of this compilation, Arthur C Gackley, is the pseudonym of illustrator Bob Staake, who is also the author of many children's books. Since the uproar over the book, Staake has wiped traces of Bad Little Children's Books from his website. However, they're still available through internet archives.

After receiving criticism from many, Abrams Books quickly released a statement, digging their feet in as they doubled-down on their support for the book, referring to the above offensive depictions of marginalized groups as simply "parody" and "satire."

Abrams recently published an adult humor book called Bad Little Children’s Books, a collection of patently offensive parodies of children’s book covers. The book follows in the long tradition of parody that, with humor, attacks attitudes and built-in societal perceptions with equal ruthlessness. Its intention is to shine a spotlight on stereotypes about race, gender, and difference that have become commonplace in today’s world and to, in fact, skewer all levels of societal bias. This is exactly what successful parody and satire is meant to do.

It was never our intention as publisher, nor the author’s, to spread or support hateful messaging. Some reviewers and commenters on social media have taken elements of the book at face value, which, we believe, misses the point of the book as a work of artistic parody and satire. We stand by our publication and invite readers to make up their own minds.

Included with the above statement was a letter in support from the NCAC (National Coalition Against Censorship). However, their statement should be taken with a grain of salt because the President and CEO of Abrams Books, Michael Jacobs, is on the Board of Directors for the NCAC.

(Both the statement and letter can be found here in full.)

Following the above statement, people openly expressed their displeasure with Abrams Books, including top literary agent Barry Goldblatt, and authors Sarah MacLean, Angie Thomas, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jeff Zentner, and more.

[More Tweets]

After continuing to recieve criticism, Abrams issued another statement. This statement, as many have noted, had a very "sorry not sorry" feel to it, with them stating that Bad Little Children’s Books, which they made sure to state has received "glowing reviews," "is a work of parody and satire and, as such, it is intentionally, openly, and provocatively offensive." However, despite evidence to the contrary, they insist that "[their] books and [their] publishing house have never nor will ever stand for bigotry or hatred." They insist that critics, who are simply internet users and not the government and can't force a multi-million dollar company to do anything, are censoring them.

We have a long record of publishing and promoting creative expression in many forms. We stand fully behind freedom of speech and artistic expression, and fully support the First Amendment. We have been disheartened by calls to censor the book and to stifle the author’s right to express his artistic vision by people we would expect to promote those basic fundamental rights and freedoms.

The author's statement was also included alongside the above. In it, he states that he has "asked ABRAMS to cease publishing the book" because people who are upset by racism and other offensive imagery are simply misreading his work. Or not reading it at all, he notes. Staake/Gackley and his publisher seem to conveniently ignored that there were people who did pick it up and read it, which is how it came to the attention of the book community to begin with.

(Both Abrams's and Staake's final statements can be found here in full.)

Finally, although both their statements say that they are being censored because the work is being misread, Debbie Reese noted that before the Book Riot piece and the outrage that followed, Abrams (or at least the author) had been well aware of how offensive the book might be.

Even as far back as September 7th, the author, under his real name, was posting about how this book was going to get banned. Under his psueodnym, Arthur Gackley was advertising it as something that was going to be banned.

And in regards to people simply "misreading" their work, author KJ Charles has a response:

As some have noted, by crying "censorship," the publisher is making itself out to be a victim even though they'd been well aware of the offensiveness of their work. Some see it as a calculated risk on the part of Abrams, by portraying themselves as being attacked by the "PC/SJW mob."

Sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15 / 16 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 21 / 22 / 23 / 24 / 25 / 26 / 27 / 28 / 29 / 30 / 31 / 32 / 33 / 34 / 35 / 36 / 37 / 38 / 39 / 40 / 41 / 42 / 43 / 44

Debbie Reese has a great thread on Twitter in which she compiled this information. I recommend perusing it if you want more information that I may have missed here. The Huffington Post also did a pretty good piece on this. As that piece notes, although the author and publisher claim that the bigotry in the book is trying to "poke fun at racial, religious and ethnic stereotypes, but in practice only [emphasizes] them."
Tags: books / authors, race / racism
  • Post a new comment


    Comments allowed for members only

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

← Ctrl ← Alt
Ctrl → Alt →
← Ctrl ← Alt
Ctrl → Alt →