Tuesday, July 26, 2011
HANGING MY HEAD IN SHAME (THE 20 BOY SUMMER BAN)
Back when the story broke about Republic, Missouri resident Wesley Scroggins's attempt to ban three books from Republic schools, I wrote a post for Sarah Ockler's blog which defended my home state. Scroggins isn't representative of Missouri, I insisted. Missouri itself doesn't stand for banning. When I wrote the post, I honestly thought the whole situation was basically over. The school board wouldn't actually ban Ockler's TWENTY BOY SUMMER, or Anderson's SPEAK, or Vonnegut's SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE. I mean, really...SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE? What decade is this?
I woke up this morning to a headline in my local paper (THE NEWS-LEADER) indicating that two of Scroggins's targeted titles had been pulled: Vonnegut's and Ockler's.
And I'm completely, totally mortified by the decision. I'm even embarrassed that the headline is on page one of the paper, not shunted to some little paragraph deep inside, hanging its own head in shame.
The truth is, anybody with a book on the shelves can be banned. Anybody. And while "numerous individuals," as superintendent Vern Minor put it, claim to have read the three books in question, I wonder if they've read any other contemporary YAs. I contend that if those individuals were to start reading YA authors whose last names begin with "A" and work their way through the alphabet, the shelves would be empty.
And that's the last place on earth I want to be: a world with empty bookshelves. The slippery-slope is terrifying.
To Sarah, a YA author I so admire, all I can say is this: There are many, many important books out there that have never been banned. But I can't think of a single banned book that is not important.