Of course it was bound to start happening again in the America where the likes of Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh and the “Reverend” Rick Perry are looked up to; it seems the banning of books from school libraries is back in vogue in small mind – excuse me – small town America.
Recently the Republic School District (population 14,300), in the great state of Missouri, decided to remove Kurt Vonnegut’s classic novel “Slaughterhouse-Five” along with the young adult novel “Twenty Boy Summer” by Sarah Ockler. Both books have been banned from a school curriculum and library following complaints from a local professor – who apparently had “two 50’s and went right into the 70’s” – about children being exposed to “shocking material”.
The so-called “professor”, Wesley Scroggins, is not a literature professor, or a history professor, nor is he a sociology professor; Dr Scroggins – who earned his PhD from New Mexico State University – is a professor of business management; no doubt a position which makes him infinitely “qualified” to comment on the suitability of literature in a high school’s reading curriculum. Wes has decided that Vonnegut’s novel “contains so much profane language, it would make a sailor blush with shame”, and that Ockler’s book “glorifies drunken teen parties, where teen girls lose their clothes in games of strip beer pong”.
The obvious question would be, “has Dr Scroggins read either book?” The equally obvious answer would be, “I doubt it”.
Scroggins’s complaints sparked a review by the district school board, which voted this week to keep the novel “Speak” but to remove the novels by Vonnegut and Ockler. “Twenty Boy Summer” focused on “sensationalizing sexual promiscuity”, Superintendent Vern Minor told the News-Leader. “I just don’t think it’s a good book. I don’t think it’s consistent with these standards and the kind of message that we want to send,” he said. “If the book had ended on a different note, I might have thought differently.” Slaughterhouse-Five, meanwhile, contains “really, really intense” language and does not have “any place in high school”, according to Minor.
Where’s Annie Kinsella when you need her? Clearly she’s not living in Republic, MO. No one in Republic stood up and asked, “Who’s for Eva Braun here?” No one asked, “Who’s for the type of censorship they had under Stalin, anybody?”
Nope, in Republic, Missouri they have no one to stand up and say, “What Slaughter House Five tells me is that goose stepping morons like Dr Scroggins should be reading books instead of banning them”.
Scroggy is one of many “do-gooders” uber-conservatives in our right leaning society today who no doubt thinks Islam wants to enslave us all in Shariah law while he leads a crusade to ban a book from which many of us first learned that the Nazi’s didn’t just target and murder Jews, they also targeted and murdered homosexuals and many others.
Scroggins, meanwhile, told the News Leader that while it was “unfortunate [the board] chose to keep the other book [Speak] … I congratulate them for doing what’s right and removing the two books”.
No Herr Scroggins it wasn’t “what’s right” because here in America we have the Bill of Rights which contains the First Amendment guaranteeing free speech. You, on the other hand, have sided with governments and individuals who do not support the ideal of free speech. You have sided with those who stand opposed to that principle, as has the Republic School Board. What’s the encore going to be, banning the Koran? Banning the Book of Mormon? How long before you ban the Holy Bible? After all it is bursting at the seams with tales of betrayal, murder, rape, incest, homosexuality, unbridled passion, war and genocide. If you extend Scroggins’ logic far enough then the Bible is also unsuitable to be on the shelves of the schools in the Republic School District.
Of course, perhaps the Republic School Board should have consulted with an attorney before launching into its book ban, and I don’t mean someone’s brother’s cousin. If it had it might have learned the U.S. Supreme Court has already considered the First Amendment implications of the removal of “Slaughter House Five” along with other books, from public school libraries in the case of Island Trees School District v. Pico, [457 U.S. 853 (1982)], and concluded that “local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to ‘prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.” Of course the odds of someone ever standing up in Republic, MO and opposing the ban is, well. let’s say a Democrat could be elected Governor of Utah before that happens.
So, here we are in Sarah Palin’s America, where books are banned and members of Congress are shot in the face; where conservatives advocate throwing the Greatest Generation under the economic bus, and where Tea Partista Terrorist hold the country hostage threatening to destroy its economy if their demands aren’t met.
Is this what “taking the country back” means? Does it mean taking it back to a time where books weren’t just banned but were burned? Does it mean taking it back to a time when lunatic members of Congress could hold up a blank sheet of paper claiming it contained the names of “known Communists within the State Department” and throw the country into red scare madness? Is this the America they want?