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Missouri!

August 4, 2011

First, the bad news:

Home of the TigersKurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five is considered a modern classic. That doesn’t mean it’s a particularly easy read. Indeed, it deals with some fairly heady topics. When I first encountered it in high school, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. But it sure made me think, which, in my view, is what a good novel should do.

Funny thing about that thinking – some people see it as dangerous. And a few of those people sit on the school board in Republic, Mo.

Slaughterhouse FiveThe board voted 4-0 recently to ban Slaughterhouse-Five and another book, Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer, after a local resident complained that the books teach ideas contrary to the Bible.

Wesley Scroggins had originally targeted three books, but the board voted to keep one, Laurie Halse Anderson’s award-winning Speak, on the shelves. According to the Springfield News-Leader, Scroggins “challenged the use of the books and lesson plans in Republic schools, arguing they teach principles contrary to the Bible.”

And then there is the good news:

The KVML will be giving away free copies of Slaughterhouse Five to students from Republic, Missouri’s high school (yes, the school that banned Slaughterhouse Five last week from their curriculum and school library) …. We have up to 150 books to share, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor. We think it’s important for everyone to have their First Amendment rights. We’re not telling you to like the book … we just want you to read it and decide for yourself.

Writers, remember: Your freedom of speech stops at the Missouri border.

Keep working on that. They can’t keep their eyes shut forever.

-bd

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