Friday, July 29, 2011
Banning Books In 2011
As the result of a campaign launched by Wesley Scroggins, a business professor at Missouri State University, the Republic, Missouri school board recently voted unanimously to ban both Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five and Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer. This means these books are not allowed in school curriculum and copies must be removed from school libraries.
Unsurprisingly, only one school board member had actually read one of the books in question.
"Professor" Scroggin's rationale for banning the books? Slaughterhouse-Five has too much cussin'. And in Ockler's book "drunken teens also end up on the beach, where they use their condoms to have sex."
It is all too easy for us to believe that book banning is a thing of the past or something that only takes place in countries under totalitarian regimes. But it still very much happens here in the United States.
In 2000, Slaughterhouse-Five was removed from sophomore reading lists at a Coventry, RI school after a parent complained about the language. It was challenged in Arlington Heights, IL in 2006. And in 2007, the book was brought to court in Howell, MI to see if it violated laws against "distribution of sexually explicit materials to minors".
In fact, not only is Vonnegut's classic the 18th greatest English-language novel of the 20th century (according to the Modern Library) and called by Time Magazine one of the "100 Greatest Novels of the 20th Century", it is also one of the most frequently challenged books of the past few decades (according to the American Library Association).
So yes, they still ban books.
Author Sarah Ockler's response.