Some thoughts before heading to lunch. I read an article today about two books that were being banned in Republic, Missouri: Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughter House Five” and Sarah Ockler’s “Twenty Boy Summer”.
Now I, like so many other students, have had to read “Slaughter House Five” in school. I loved it. And I know a lot of students who loved it to. It was the book that started me on my Vonnegut journey reading almost all of his books.
I’ve never read “Twenty Boy Summer” but I know I have heard of it before. I probably picked it up in a bookstore once and contemplated buying it, only to put it back for another day.
According to the article, these two books were banned because they were full of bad language and were encouraging teenagers to go party and drink and be promiscuous. Honestly, I think if a book ever did that I would be a little shocked. Books are to be read, and I think banning books is one of the silliest things that could ever be thought of. It’s right up there with burning books. What’s the point? Don’t the grown ups know that banning a book just makes it that much more appealing to teenagers? If I knew a book was banned in my town I would definitely go and order it online or something in order to read it to find out what’s so bad with it.
And to ban a book for bad language and promiscuity is also very silly. Bad language and promiscuity do not only live inside these books. There are plenty of books (and not to mention songs and music videos) that have these as well. It’s a part of our every day living.
I agree with what Sarah Ockler has to say at the end of the article. That it shouldn’t be up to a school district as to whether a book should be banned or not. It should be up to the parent for whether they want their child reading a book that has bad language and promiscuity or not.
For me, I think teens should be able to read anything and everything. It’s the way to make their minds grow. Teen books tend to talk about taboo topics like sex, drugs, and drinking. It’s a way to get the topics out in the open and let the teen decide what they want. As writers, we can’t censor ourselves or else there would be nothing interesting to write about.
One thought on “Banned Books”
Freedom to read and write are not the issues. Here are the issues as a lot of people have framed them:
#1 Only four of seven school board members were there to make the final decision.
It’s immaterial how many school members were there, so long as there was a quorum.
#2 Most the board members hadn’t even read the books.
School board members are rather busy— finances, personal matters, disciplinary issues, and so on. Reading YA novels is not a priority. That’s why task forces and panels are appointed.
#3 The guy who complained doesn’t even have a child who goes to Republic.
It doesn’t matter whether you have a kid at a school. All taxpayers in the district contribute to the local public school, and have the option of voting for school board members. Hence, they have a say in what happens at the school.
#4 It’s just not right.
What’s “right” doesn’t trump what the law says, and school boards have the the law on their side when it comes to evaluating their curricula in light of community standards.
Ms. Ockeler, and you for that matter, can write about whatever you want— and I hope you do. But a public school is entitled to set standards. Where Republic made a mistake was taking the novels out of the library. The Supreme Court has ruled that students have “a right to read” the books in a library.
Charles J. Shields
And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut, A Life (Holt, November)