#3. Ferdinand the Bull Was Condemned as Fascist/Communist/Pacifist Propaganda
Walt Disney Animation Studios
In 1936, author Munro Leaf wrote a children's book called The Story of Ferdinand, about a gentle Spanish bull named Ferdinand who gets snatched up and forced into a bullfighting match. However, much like that one kid everyone had on their soccer team, Ferdinand plops down in the middle of the field and smells flowers rather than pay any attention to the furious shouting around him.
Munro Leaf/Robert Lawson
They should've brought him a stinkflower if they wanted him to enter Murder Mode so badly.
The book ended up being a massive hit, and it was even made into an Oscar-winning Disney short, but Ferdinand was not without his critics. You see, 1936 also marked the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, which as its name indicates, took place in Spain, exactly like The Story of Ferdinand. Because this benign tale of a kind bull refusing to fight took place in a country embroiled in a bitter conflict, stupid people became convinced that The Story of Ferdinand was slimy covert pacifist propaganda.
Walt Disney Pictures
Which is bullshit, because those flowers were clearly murdered for his pleasure.
That seed of sinister doubt bloomed into full-blown conspiracy hysteria, and pretty soon Ferdinand became a schizophrenic Rorschach test in which every extremist in Europe saw subversion from their bitter enemies. Fascists saw it as communist propaganda, communists denounced it as fascist indoctrination, militarists declared Ferdinand to be pacifist brainwashing, and some pacifists considered the character to be a mean-spirited parody of their cause. Consequently, The Story of Ferdinand was banned throughout Italy, the Soviet Union, and Germany, where Hitler ordered the book to be burned as "degenerate democratic propaganda." Which honestly isn't that surprising, because Hitler was a book-burning shithead who probably would've burned his own book if it didn't have his name on the front.
All of this was a shock to Munro Leaf, who had only cranked out The Story of Ferdinand to give his illustrator buddy something to add to his resume. Leaf had to spend the rest of his life thinking up new ways to politely say, "Seriously, people, it's just a fucking bull that likes flowers."
#2. A School Banned All Books Featuring Pigs Because They Might Offend Muslims
E.B. White/Garth Williams
In 2003, in the English town of Batley, the Park Road Junior Infant and Nursery School (nine-time winner of the coveted "Most British Name in History" Award) became concerned about all the books in their classrooms that featured pigs as characters, because more than 60 percent of their students were Muslim and not permitted to eat pork because of their faith. In order to avoid possibly offending anyone (and presumably because they thought Muslims would explode if they read the word "pig"), the school instituted a wholesale ban on any book containing pigs, sending some of our most beloved childhood characters, like the Three Little Pigs and Wilbur from Charlotte's Web, straight to the literary slaughterhouse, which in this metaphor is the dumpster behind Books-A-Million.
They presumably included Olivia, but we can't imagine anyone complaining.
Predictably, there was an explosion of outrage among the media, parents of the non-Muslim students, and parents of the Muslim students. That's right, not a single Muslim student or parent had actually complained about the school's choice of literature -- the school arbitrarily decided to ban all pig-centric fiction on their behalf. The Muslim Council of Britain even had to chip in and explain that they are totally OK with children's books featuring pigs, because like most people who aren't lunatics, they can make a distinction between reading about something and eating it.
Walt Disney Animation Studios
Probably very few kids reacted to this by killing and eating their own fathers.
The school's headmaster insisted that they were only trying to "ensure that all of our children are awarded the respect that all human beings deserve," which we suspect is another way of saying, "We have no idea what's going to set you terrorists off, amirite?" Ultimately, the school allowed the books back in their classrooms and learned a powerful lesson in the process: If you're going to get offended on a group's behalf, it's a good idea to at least check with them first.
#1. Sesame Street Angered Mississippi by Showing That Black People Exist
When it debuted in 1969, Sesame Street was both the first American show scientifically designed to educate kids and one of the first to boast a diverse, racially integrated cast (and a giant talking yellow bird). This was in the late '60s, when "white flight" (the exodus of white families from the inner city to the suburbs) was in full swing, so the idea of different races being able to live together was unthinkable to many people, primarily ignorant dickheads.
"I just don't want my kids watching it, OK?! It doesn't mean I'm racist. I have plenty of blue friends."
So while Sesame Street's primary concern was to recruit children for the powerful alphabet lobby, it also exposed them to the idea that people of different races and cultures can totally be friends, and that inner city neighborhoods aren't necessarily places of squalor, desperation, and drug violence. However, this message proved problematic for the state of Mississippi (see: "ignorant dickheads," above), whose official policy at the time was to promote the idea that all black people were vampires or something.
"I got 97, 98, 99 problems, ah ah ah."
It may be hard to believe, but Mississippi in 1970 was not the cornucopia of tolerance we know today. When PBS first brought Sesame Street to the state, they were targeted by activists campaigning for "freedom of choice," which here means segregation (see, they wanted the "freedom to choose" to never be around black people). Appalled by Sesame Street's depiction of racial harmony as a completely normal thing not exclusively practiced by insane Martians, they pushed for the state to ban the show. The Mississippi Commission for Educational Television duly complied, reportedly explaining that they weren't ready for Sesame Street's integrated cast.
"And we ain't too comfortable with them Jewish puppets, neither."
This created a bigger shitstorm than a muddy diaper put on a centrifuge. The national news media didn't sugarcoat their outrage over the decision, which caused the commission to cave and lift the ban after one month. Which is ironic, considering that watching Sesame Street could've taught them a thing or two about believing in themselves.
Related Reading: People get riled up over the most ridiculous things. Like how folks in the Congo went crazy because of penis thieving sorcerers. Or that time the BBC banned a song because it mentioned Coca-Cola.
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