Friday, August 5, 2011

Meanwhile, in Missouri...: Banning Books

In Republic, Missouri, the Republic High School board has unanimously voted to ban Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five and Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer. The books were named in a public complaint filed last year, along with Laurie Halse Anderson's novel Speak, which managed to escape the ban.

The complaint was filed by Republic resident Wesley Scroggins, a professor of management at Missouri State, and author of several outraged letters to his daily newspaper on the moral decay in our public-school system. Apparently, Mr. Scroggins is seriously concerned about the ideas his children might be exposed to in public school. But wait! There's a catch: his kids are home-schooled. Perhaps the influence and charisma of Republic's school librarian is too much for the weak-willed home-school community in Missouri.

Scroggins complained that Slaughterhouse-Five "contains so much profane language, it would make a sailor blush with shame." And Twenty Boy Summer has "drunken teens [who] also end up on the beach, where they use their condoms to have sex." God forbid we teach them to have safe sex in Missouri. How else could they breed even more book-banning fascists?

Ultimately, the board voted 4-0 (with 3 members missing--quorum anyone?) to remove Vonnegut's and Ockler's books from the school curriculum and library. Apparently, the meeting was attended only by board members, Scroggins, two school administrators, and a reporter paid to cover the school district by the local daily newspaper. Way to be involved, parents.

Despite the vote to remove the books, Superintendent Minor said students wishing to read materials that fall outside of the standards -- including Slaughterhouse and Twenty Boy Summer -- can select those books for classwork as long as they have signed parent permission. Don't let Mr. Scroggins find out or I'm sure he'll try to ban that, too.

1 comment:

Paul Blanchard said...

Seriously, how do you get to become a professor if you think books should be banned? On the other hand, the line "they use their condoms to have sex" is amusingly awful... So I now support banning books.