Skip to comments.7 deadly books? Talk of ban hits burbs
Posted on 05/22/2006 12:11:31 PM PDT by Borges
A northwest suburban high school board member seeks to ban seven books from classroom use because she thinks the profanity, depiction of graphic sex, and drug and abortion references in the literature are inappropriate for teenagers.
Leslie Pinney admits she only read passages of the controversial selections, including Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five and Toni Morrison's Beloved, which were on the American Library Association's 100 most challenged books list between 1990 and 2000.
But Pinney said perusing the questionable parts of the books made it clear they weren't suitable for children and should be taken off Township High School District 214's proposed required reading list next year. The district is based in Arlington Heights.
Pinney was particularly offended by the explicit tales of masturbation and teen sex in Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The popular novel, often described as a modern-day Catcher in the Rye, was among the ALA's top 10 most challenged books two years ago.
'Isn't there ... a higher level?'
"We talk about the steady diet of trans fat and sugar, and we know the result is obesity and diabetes. But what are we feeding the minds of our students? They're getting a steady diet of foul language, violence and sexuality outside the classroom by the media. But when it comes to the classroom, isn't there something of a higher level to feed the minds of our children?" Pinney asked.
Other books Pinney wants replaced are The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien; The Awakening by Kate Chopin; Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, and Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World.
Many of the texts have been used in the district's six main high schools before and were reviewed by the department heads before the lists were sent to the board for consideration.
"These aren't books someone just picked out of a bookstore one Saturday morning and said, 'Hey let's put them on the reading list.' These are books that have gone through the process and were selected for their educational value," Board President William Dussling said.
'It cannot hurt to be informed'
Dussling is willing to listen to Pinney's concerns when the board meets Thursday, but he doubts the books will be removed from the curriculum. The district has an "opt out" policy if parents don't want students to participate in an activity or read a certain book, he said.
Levitt, a University of Chicago economics professor, can understand why some people may be uncomfortable with his nonfiction best seller, which correlates legalized abortion with lower crime rates. However, he said banning it for ideological reasons does not make sense.
"The book does deal with controversial topics like abortion, crime, guns and race. But we aren't making moral statements in the book about whether abortion should or shouldn't be legal, or guns should or should not be regulated. Instead, we try to look at the data and understand what impact legalized abortion or gun control has had on crime. I would think that whatever conclusion one comes to on the morality of an issue like abortion, it cannot hurt to be informed about the facts," Levitt said.
There were 404 challenges or written requests to have a book removed from a school or library filed with the ALA last year. There were 11 challenges in Illinois in 2005, compared with 10 the year before, spokeswoman Larra Clark said.
well its nowhere in my city for the same reasons cited.
So can these books.
Richard the Lionhearted was supposedly at least "bi", so it goes back far beyond James I.
The line should be drawn at government schools. Abolish them and the problem disappears.
Unfortunately, that is not the topic.
Suitability for reading lists in high schools is the subject.
So it is. However, I fail to see why the book is inappropriate for classroom use. If the ideas contained within make someone uncomfortable, what will we say when that principle is extended to science class, to rule out uncomfortable theories? Or history class, to omit uncomfortable events or the interpretations thereof?
the article states that these books have been approved by the teachers and department chairs.
So you'd let her read pornography, just because God says it's ok? What kind of parent are you?
The criteria for suitability should be those I had stated earlier. What others would you propose? Moral instruction? This isn't a Sunday school class. There is a lot of great writers with who's world view I disagree.
This reminds me of when one of Alice Walker's books was removed from the California high school required reading list.
She was furious and repeatedly accused the schools of "censorship."
The difference is, I understand what true censorship is, and this isn't it. And so do you.
These aren't 5 year olds. These are teenagers on the cusp of becoming adults. People like this school board official should stop trying to mind control them and let the students engage in ideas, otherwise their first steps into the real world will be a disaster.
What they do not tell you is that sharing a bed was a common occurrence back then. Even in inns...travellers commonly shared a bed with a stranger.
These are the same people trying to tell you now that Abe Lincoln was gay. Don't buy it.
Hehe, the comments should be amusing on this thread.
That is not filth....
Far earlier. Remember Edward II....
Someone has to decide what to recommend to the children. In a more perfect world, it would be the parents by choosing what schools to send their children to. Unfortunately, the government has forced people into their schools.
Is the complete works of the Marqui De Sade appropriate? Someone must decide.
And she didn't even read the books! Gosh, that sure saves time, doesn't it? :)
SHE didn't read any of them. How is that "doing her job"?
"Leslie Pinney admits she only read passages of the controversial selections"
No no no.
All good kings were gay and all bad kings were straight.
Not true. The gay propoganda surrounding Richard I is based at least partially on the fact that a priest ordered him to stop committing "The Sin of Sodom."
Do you have to read more than one chapter of graphic sex to know there's graphic sex in a book?
You're telling me that sex isn't filth? Are you series?
There's graphic sexual content in Chaucer and Shakespeare. Graphic violence as well.
And then, there's always Edward II...he of death by hot poker shoved up a most inconvenient place.
I would wager that's a lot more than the other school board members.
When I was 12, I found a book called "Teenage Oral Desires." I didn't read the whole thing (parents busted me before I finished it) but I read enough to know that it is not appropriate reading material for school kids.
Thank God for men like Thomas Bowdler, who made it safe for families to read those great works.
Edward II was a good king? What specifics of his reign lead you to THAT conclusion?
Thanks for the corroboration.
I guess not all of them. And why would someone say, "the decision is final because some say so". It's an ongoing process and should be.
Aw....man....not this nonsense again.
But, she only read the "good" parts, I see.
I can't believe we're still banning books. You think these book banners realize there's an internet out there? lol
It was a joke.
It was a commentary on how historical figures are "outed" as gay, whether they are or not.
So you don't believe in judging a work as a whole, and reading for context before making a decision? Guess not, takes too much time and too many brain cells. I wouldn't hesitate to assign Slaughterhouse-Five; I have not read the others.... so I can't pass judgment on them, unlike this ever-so-knowledgeable school board member. Perhaps she's omniscient.
I see, YOU get to choose what the criteria is. Pardon me for not understanding that.
(You won't be choosing it for my children, I will.)
No, I have read Freakonomics; what's objectionable in that??
It was extremely mild compared to some of the junk out there today.
In addition, Shakespeare is worth reading and is considered great literature because of the impact he had on society and culture. Cheap pulp fiction which is momentarily on someone's 21st "great literature" list is a far cry from Shakespeare.
Nothing wrong with a board members voicing an opinion about what she considered trash is there?
"The Song of Songs is absolute filth."
Well, it involves markers, poster paint, string, double sided tape, gummed stars, poster board, a ruler, cardboard tubes, and, uh, I think I've gone far enough. I don't want to be banned.
My reaction exactly. I'm halfway through the book, and was amazed to find it on this list.
They forgot the koran.
a. No, sex isn't filth.
b. Danielle Steele doesn't write that well either.
It only seems mild because we do not tend to recognize the slang terms of his day that he frequently uses. The language has changed a great deal.
It's just not always necessary to read a whole book or see a whole movie to know it's crap.
If there's one gratuitous or graphic sex scene, that may be enough for responsible poeple to know kids don't need to read it in school.
Ummmmmmmmm...Edward II, WAS a homosexual.
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