"All these people talk so eloquently about getting back to good old-fashioned values. Well, as an old poop I can remember back to when we had those old-fashioned values, and I say let's get back to the good old-fashioned First Amendment of the good old-fashioned Constitution of the United States -- and to hell with the censors! Give me knowledge or give me death!"It is unbelievable that in 2011 censorship is something we have to deal with. Originally I wanted to write about self-censorship in video games. I had briefly touched upon that topic before but then I realized I would be paraphrasing a lot of what was already posted in those links at the bottom. I figured this topic tied more into my project Motherfucker Why You Reading anyways.
I read on Boing Boing today about an entrepreneur and university professor that successfully got Slaughter-House Five and Twenty Boy Summer banned from Missouri public schools. So it goes. In an editorial article his complaints over the books are all sexual in nature:
"In high school English classes, children are required to read and view material that should be classified as soft pornography.One such book is called "Speak." They also watch the movie. This is a book about a very dysfunctional family. Schoolteachers are losers, adults are losers and the cheerleading squad scores more than the football team. They have sex on Saturday night and then are goddesses at church on Sunday morning. The cheer squad also gets their group-rate abortions at prom time. As the main character in the book is alone with a boy who is touching her female parts, she makes the statement that this is what high school is supposed to feel like. The boy then rapes her on the next page. Actually, the book and movie both contain two rape scenes."As an alumni of a catholic high-school I can personally vouch as these accounts being closer to reality than any pornography I have ever seen. Secondly, Scroggins is calling for outside intervention into the public school system appealing to people's religious beliefs. Shouldn't this be at least a little concerning?
"Lastly, there is a book in the library recommended for reading called "Twenty Boy Summer." This book glorifies drunken teen parties, where teen girls lose their clothes in games of strip beer pong. In this book, drunken teens also end up on the beach, where they use their condoms to have sex. I confronted the school board with these issues at the June school board meeting. As far as I know, nothing has been done to address these issues to date. This is unacceptable, considering that most of the school board members and administrators claim to be Christian. How can Christian men and women expose children to such immorality? Parents, it is time you get involved!"
"In English, children are also required to read a book called "Slaughterhouse Five." This is a book that contains so much profane language, it would make a sailor blush with shame. The "f word" is plastered on almost every other page. The content ranges from naked men and women in cages together so that others can watch them having sex to God telling people that they better not mess with his loser, bum of a son, named Jesus Christ."In a book about the fire-bombing of a city, in a book where men soil themselves on the battle field over fear of being killed, in a book where the same men are stuffed into cattle car like freight, this persons complaint is over sex. Sex. In Wesley Scroggins twisted worldview, the worst thing a child can read about in a book is not mass destruction, war or death, but copulation.
In personal experience when somebody did not want me to read or consume something, there was usually more to the story. Kurt Vonnegut was a humanist, and as long as humanism has existed, religious people have had something to say about it. The reason why people like Wesley Scroggins do not want you to read is because it if in direct conflict with his personal beliefs. Scroggins and the superintendent are making a decision for everyone else because of they think is right for everybody else.
I sometimes worry that the only reason why the story cam up is because it's taking place at a public school. At my private catholic high school I wonder how many conversations went on behind closed doors about books, ideas, and class discussions that were to be avoided because they opposed those ideas ideologically. I hope kids will learn what books are on the banned book list. I hope the ones that are curious enough will get a copy of the book will enjoy it. I hope the knowledge that they have pushed past the boundaries set by their narrow minded authority figures opens their minds.
Wesley Scroggins, when I think of the people that undermine our academic system and fail to challenge us to think critically about the world around us, I think of people like you.
Frank Zappa on Crossfire
Author of Twenty Boy Summer, Sarah Ockler's site