You could argue including the hidden parts of Anne Frank’s diary is a secondary violation.

A recent teapot tempest in the Censorship Wars (at least the skirmishes over keeping arguably pornographic and sex-promoting work out of elementary school libraries) has to do with parents’ objecting to a graphic novel version of Ann Frank’s diary.  You can dig multiple layers into the story, though, for a more-full picture.

The first layer, which is the one I’ve seen sympathetic parents offering, is to note that the graphic novel includes sections in which Anne fantasized about kissing her friend and discussed the details of her private areas, including manual explorations that young children needn’t ponder.  This has obvious implications for those concerned about the sexualization of children.  Inasmuch as a graphic novel is not word-for-word, such details could have been excluded.  To my mind, however, the second layer is the clincher.

Not surprisingly, when the diary was first made public decades ago, somebody (probably Anne or her father, perhaps at her request) glued paper over these sections so they could not be seen.  Little did that protector expect humanity would develop technology to see through the barrier without ruining the underlying text.

In other words, these pages were never meant to be seen, and it’s more than likely Anne would have been mortified to know not only that such secrets were available for the adult public of the world to know, but that school children might be encountering them… in school.  Think of the prudent barriers through which we’re blasting, these days.  Not only did the keepers of Anne’s legacy peak into the private parts of her diary never intended for other eyes, but they’ve published them for the world to see.  Next, the graphic novel writer and publisher made the conscious decision to include these sections in a cartoonish text for children, and radicals insist that any parents who object to their use in public schools are censorious fascists.

My view is that this is more like an inversion of the truth.  Those hoping to enlist Anne in their cultural and political battles are abusing and violating her for the purposes of propaganda, which has a terrifyingly familiar ring.


Featured image by Justin Katz using Dall-E 3 on ChatGPT.

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