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July 18, 2007



Little Black Sambo? Hmmmmph. As a small kid, I shuddered to think of another kid about to be devoured by tigers and who escapes such a fate only by ending up naked [humiliation!]--or, at least stripped down to his underwear; and cheered when those threatening him ended up as cooking grease. The only people against whom the author of Little Black Sambo was "racist" were those with orange-and-white striped skins who went about on four legs instead of two.


Don, your observations are spot on. Hiding on the top shelf is probably more about damage control than dialogue. But there is really too little dialogue about this stuff and a great deal more diatribe. If the History channel should choose to air Birth of a Nation without preamble or any contextual information, is that irresponsible or acceptible? I think a great deal depends on what we think the critical capacities are of the receivers of data, as well as the responsibility of those who make it available. My preference is for informed exposure, but I see that as my role as parent, until my kids start getting information for themselves - all too soon!


Both Tintin and Astrix have been favorites of mine since childhood and today my family enjoys them both. There is no doubt that all the characters are depicted in extreme caricature. They are comic books and a reminder of a not-so-innocent past. Ask any bibliophile to search through their old texts on nature, history or Americana. There you find your mind scorched by offensives—by today's standards—once considered a measure of civility.

Question is, is it the responsibility of publishers and bookstores to shield future generations from ill-conceived histories—by hiding them on the top shelf?

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