June 27, 2007

a good man is so hard to find

**Note: I started this entry a couple weeks ago but didn't get a chance to finish and post it till now.**

I'm back working on the Huntley newspaper and I've been digging around for some story ideas. Shaw Newspapers, which owns the Northwest Herald and the Kane County Chronicle, has a weekly paper in Huntley. I was looking through some old stories online when I came across this a story about Huntley High School board member Larry Snow, who objected to an English teacher teaching Flannery O'Connor's 1955 short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find," because he "took issue with its violent imagery, which ends with an escaped prisoner killing a family after they are involved in a car accident."

He goes on to say that, ďItís not about censorship. Itís about asking the question of whether this is appropriate content. It hasnít been approved. Itís not on any approved [reading] list.Ē

I'm still amazed whenever I see something like this. What country and what century are we living in? Whenever I hear about a school board member wanting to censor stories or novels that are taught in English classes, it reminds me of the oath that elected officials take when they are sworn in. Part of that oath is to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Last time I checked, the First Amendment was still part of the constitution.

Now, I know there are limits on First Amendment freedoms when it comes to schools. Schools are allowed to enforce dress-code policies banning clothing with certain words or pictures. They are allowed to punish students for saying or writing things in class. But when it comes to literature that is taught in class, I can't believe there are members of school boards across the country that try to ban material their personal tastes find "innappropriate."

The argument that it's not about censorship is ridiculous, especially since he says it's about regulating content. That's the definition of censorship.

"Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of" - U2

Posted by dpetrella at June 27, 2007 4:40 PM | TrackBack

That quote about censorship doesn't exactly inspire confidence in those folks that run our schools, does it? You don't even have to re-read it to spot gaping logic holes...

Snow also mentions "anti-Christian language" as a reason for his position. Others would find "pro-Christian language" equally dissonant to their beliefs, and its asinine to say that literature can't address the issue of religion at all... So where does that leave us? That argument is pretty absurd too. Writers should be able to write what they want about that stuff, and if the writing is good (or the social commentary striking), kids should read it.

As a side note to any "concerned parents" out there: There are a lot of good things that can be said of someone who does not force his or her own objections and beliefs upon others. The student who's parents objected to the story was given an alternative assignment. It seems to me that the school was willing to work around the personal issues in this case, so why the need to "legislate" one man's morality?

Dan, you're right on for being surprised that this is still happening. It's like blatant racism; you don't think it actually exists until you see someone practicing it.

Posted by: matt at June 28, 2007 12:11 AM
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