Recently, Art Spiegelman’s "Maus,” the acclaimed graphic novel about the Holocaust, has been removed from the eighth-grade public school curriculum in McMinn County, Tennessee.

The reasons given included "rough, objectionable language” as well as "unnecessary use of profanity and nudity and its depiction of violence and suicide.” Bowdlerizing the Holocaust takes chutzpah, no doubt. But Spiegelman can take comfort in the fact that he’s part of a long, distinguished history of targets.

Partisans enmeshed in today’s battles over efforts to cleanse the culture of offensive speech and speakers tend to focus on clashing contemporary sensitivities over race and identity. But the battle is part of much longer American tradition of book banning, particularly when it comes to works made available to children.