′Mein Kampf′ is appropriate for Texas prisons, ′Monty Python′ not so much | News | DW | 03.12.2017

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'Mein Kampf' is appropriate for Texas prisons, 'Monty Python' not so much

Texas' criminal justice department has banned more than 10,000 book titles from state prisons. However, Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and two titles by former Ku Klux Klan chief David Duke are supposedly fine.

Inmates in the US state of Texas won't have a problem picking up a copy of "Mein Kampf," as Adolf Hitler's autobiographical work is reportedly among the Texas' criminal justice department's (TDCJ) list of approved titles.

In Germany, the title was banned until January 2016, when a heavily annotated version was published, which sought to correct its many factual errors, and put the racist and anti-Semitic manifesto into historical context.

The Dallas Morning News reported the TDCJ's choices of approved literature on behalf of Texas' nearly 150,000 inmates.

It wasn't the only title by the former Nazi leader. Hitler's "On National Socialism and World Relations," published in 1937, four years after taking power in Germany and two years before World War II, was also approved. 

Read more: Annotated 'Mein Kampf' edition wins academic prize in Germany

Among the other racially fueled publications on the approved list are two titles by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke as well as James Battersby's "The Holy Book of Adolf Hitler," which has been described on online retailer Amazon as "the Bible of neo-Nazism and of esoteric Hitlerism."


The TDCJ prohibited more than 10,000 titles in total, including the 2005 bestseller "Freakonomics," which explained the economic theory behind concepts such as cheating at school and parenting techniques, and Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize winning book "The Color Purple."

Also banned are "Where's Waldo?" (known in the UK as "Where's Wally?"), "Monty Python's "Big Red Book" and a collection of Shakespearean sonnets.

What's the thinking?

While the TDCJ's decision on which books to ban was, in part, based on their content and imagery, many books were reportedly also prohibited for their bindings and the chance that they could be used to smuggle contraband.

Regarding content, the Dallas Morning News reported that a book could be banned if it contained information on the manufacture of explosives, arms or drugs; if it was "written solely for the purpose of communicating information designed to achieve the breakdown of prisons," contained graphic images of illegal sex acts; and provided information on "how to avoid detection of criminal schemes."

Many popular graphic novels, such as The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Monty Python are banned as they contain nudity or sexual images.

Lapses in judgement?

However, that doesn't mean the system is without its lapses. According to the newspaper, the TDCJ found Freakonomics to be inappropriate for its "racial content" that could provoke "offender disruption."

However, asked about allowing access to Hitler's writings, TDCJ deputy chief of staff Jason Clark, said "'Mein Kampf' is on the approved list because it does not violate our rules."