Friday, August 19, 2011

burning books

What is with the book-banning that has made headlines lately?

First, in Missouri, it was Slaughterhouse-Five and Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer.

Now, in Virginia, it's Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet.

I've read the Sherlock Holmes. I haven't read the Vonnegut or the Ockler but now I sure as heck want to. Can't these busybodies see that that is all the effect their ill-informed opinions are having?

I have yet to see any evidence that Wesley Scroggins - a man with an appropriately villainous Dickensian name who has a PhD in Management, of all the irrelevant qualifications - is in any way an authority on teen reading.

I have slightly more sympathy for the intentions of the people wanting to ban A Study in Scarlet for its anti-Mormon tone, but still think they're wasting their time and trying to suppress free thought.

Kids need to learn how to deal with ideas. They need to learn how to deal with the real world, and the real world is generally not a place full of cosy inclusive ideals and tales-with-a-moral.

So three cheers for the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, offering 150 free copies of the book to students of the Missouri School affected by the ban.

Three cheers for Sarah Ockler: "You can ban my books from every damn district in the country — I'm still not going to write to send messages or make teens feel guilty because they've made choices that some people want to pretend don't exist. That's my choice. And I'll never be ashamed of my choice to write about real issues."

And three cheers for the students and alumni of the Virginia school who turned up to protest the censorship of Sherlock.

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