Stop the Insanity – Part II

This is a continuation of Stop the Insanity – Part I so if you haven’t read it yet, you might want to click the link #justsayin. Back to the insanity of banning Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut and Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. One thing I found particularly befuddling was in the comments of the various articles about the banning of the books. Apparently there are those who feel that banning books from a school is not censorship. What‽‽‽ (I loved using the interrobang there — the perfect punctuation mark for what I was feeling.) How can that possibly be?

School district stops what’s offered
   I may have read Vonnegut’s book when I was a kid because it was on a school reading list. I don’t remember it though. Regarding censorship, the school district obviously isn’t censoring what high school students can read.
   School districts should only spend their precious resources to make available books that directly serve an educational purpose, and they along with parents should decide whether a particular title should be purchased for that purpose.
   Students who want to read a novel for entertainment can go to the public library or download it to their Kindles. There is no censorship involved in this decision.

That particular quote came from but it is not the only comment which expressed the sentiment that “there is no censorship involved in this decision.” It amazes me that people think that simply because there are other means to obtain the material no censorship has been involved. What about the kids who do not have the means to go to the public library, or who don’t have a Kindle? Is it censorship for them? I think we may have forgotten the definition of censorship which is the act of censoring. And according to Merriam-Webster it is: to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable; also: to suppress or delete as objectionable.

Hmmm, seems a little familiar. And in the above quote, the decision was not being made about whether to purchase the books or not. That decision had already been made. In fact, Slaughterhouse-Five was a part of the curriculum. But the books were then removed from the classrooms and the library and made unavailable to the students in the schools. Or to put it another way, the books were suppressed. First as a result of the challenge, and now as a permanent removal.

By the suppression and removal of the books from the school, the school district is obviously censoring what high school students can read. If the books were never available, then the argument would be a completely different one. They were available, and they were deleted from the curriculum and library as objectionable — which is the very definition of censorship.

Thomas Andrews wrote a thoughtful opinion piece on the banning and requested that Republic, MO repeal the ban. The comments in some cases bordered on farcical. The very first comment derided Andrews right to his own opinion stating, “The school board made the right decision after considering community input yet you somehow think your opinion should override that of the community of Republic.” Another stated that since Andrews was an undergrad, that he only wrote the piece at the behest and the opinion of a professor and that nothing in the piece could be considered his own opinion. I was glad to see a few comments supporting his post.

My hope is that ultimately, while the books are banned for now, the people of Republic will come to their senses or that the case will continue to be pursued until a court overrules it. The banning of books has been overturned in the past, including Slaughterhouse-Five in New York in 1982. Let’s not take a step backwards in time. Let’s stop the insanity — Now!

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4 Comments on “Stop the Insanity – Part II”

  1. It’s the removal of the books that had at one been purchased that is so unnerving. It’s one thing to carefully select books when there is limited funding. Perhaps there are other books already on the shelves that cover the same state-mandated subjects. I get that. But they already had the books, and after some politico-moralizing decided to throw the books out (thereby invalidating their funding argument). Hello, Censorship.

    1. Exactly! If they had chosen not to purchase the books in the first place… No issue. But the books were IN the school, so taking them away IS censorship. Which chaps my hide.

  2. Censorship of any kind is upsetting, but this is misguided in many ways. I would argue that books read for entertainment often fill an educational gap, teaching us the kinds of life lessons and understanding that aren’t learned in school. Limiting access to these kinds of books is, in my honest opinion, unfairly limiting the education of the students in these schools.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly with you. (I had to limit my thoughts comments or the post would have gone on FOREVER). I am astounded by the number of comments expressing similar sentiments to the one I quoted. And the problem with the “you can get it elsewhere” philosophy is that maybe the kid who needed to read the book had never heard of it before and only picked it up because it was in front of him/her. They wouldn’t know to go find the book. Some of those books, the ones that were available to me at school, were the ones which had some of the biggest impact on me. And I read voraciously, supported by my parents.

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