Vonnegut library fighting censorship

Republic School District is right next door to Springfield, MO where I went to college, and there’s enough fuckery going on there that I wish I was still around to raise hell.  First a 7th grade girl gets raped in their school – twice – is ignored by the administration and then forced to apologize to her rapist.  That’s sick beyond expression.

Not content with destroying one of the young lives in their charge, they have begun banning books – including arguably the most influential work of Kurt Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse-Five.

Why would they do such a thing?

The Republic School District took the move at its April 18 meeting following a complaint lodged by local resident Wesley Scroggins in the spring of 2010.

In his complaint, the Missouri State University associate business professor called on district officials to stop using textbooks and other materials “that create false conceptions of American history and government or that teach principles contrary to Biblical morality and truth.”

Well, I’m now ashamed to have attended that university.  I can’t tell what surprises me less, that religion arouses the spread of anti-intellectualism to children or that the sun rose this morning.

Thankfully, the Kurt Vonnegut library is pushing back.

Up to 150 students at a Missouri high school that ordered “Slaughterhouse-Five” pulled from its library shelves can get a free copy of the novel, courtesy of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, library officials said on Thursday…

…”All of these students will be eligible to vote and some may be protecting our country through military service in the next year or two,” Julia Whitehead, the executive director of the Vonnegut library in Indianapolis, said in a statement.

“It is shocking and unfortunate that those young adults and citizens would not be considered mature enough to handle the important topics raised by Kurt Vonnegut, a decorated war veteran. Everyone can learn something from his book.”

Religion dies in an open marketplace of ideas, which is undoubtedly why our religious institutions (particularly those based on the bible) have such a sordid history of censorship.  Fortunately, it has long been the case that censorship is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline.  We live in an age of information (in which religion, as you would expect, is sharply on the decline), which means that trying to censor something nowadays is tantamount to inviting the Streisand effect to bite you in the ass.

We learned it with the Muhammad cartoons and we rightly fought for the idea that free speech is not negotiable.

Thanks to Sid for the article as well as the putting out a fire with gasoline line. 🙂

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