In a rather horrible act of censorship, a Missouri area high school has pulled two books, including Kurt Vonnegut's classic Slaughterhouse-Five, from the curriculum, thanks to a complaint by a local college professor. The professor (who apparently doesn't have anything to do with the school) issued the complaint last year, stating the books taught values that were contrary to Biblical values. Um, yeah.
Three books were part of the original complaint - Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer, and Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak(a National Book Award Finalist). Ocker's book was also condemned and pulled, while Anderson's book was allowed to remain in the curriculm.
While the school board voted on the measure, it did more than just remove the books from the curriculum. The two books were also pulled from the school library.
The whole thing appears to be a huge mess, if what the locals in the comments section are saying is true. Apparently, the English teachers were against the change, and when the original complaint was made, they voted against removing the books from the curriculum. The school board then created a second committee (which is referenced in the article, but no one is sure who made up this second committee), which recommended the censorship of the two books.
Frankly, I can understand thinking long and hard about which books should be part of any curriculum. It's something I do as a professor, and there have been times when I've choosen completely wrong. The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin produced some very confused papers this year, for example.
But I'm against cenorship in all forms, especially this sort of faux religious attack on literature. Slaughterhouse-five is graphic, yes, but it's not worthout morals. It is about war, after all. High schoolers are not children - I wouldn't recommend Vonnegut to a fifth grader - and they shouldn't be treated as such. This was apparently part of the 12th grade English course. In 12th grade, I was 18 years old. In other words, old enough to go to war myself. Why should I be protected from that reality if it could be my own reality by law?
Children don't need protection from art. And for religious reasons? At a public school? Please don't get me started on the separation of church and state. Furthermore, I read about quite graphic violence in a Christian book when I was much younger than the students affected by this ban. It was called The Chronicles of Narnia. All I got from it was the great battles and heroics. Somehow, as a fourth grader, I missed all that Christian allegory. Whoops.