Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hometown War over The Chocolate War

Few things get my blood boiling as quickly as censorship.

Imagine my ire two weeks ago when I read about a school board battle brewing in my home town over whether a an English teacher could include The Chocolate War in her freshman class.

First, censorship. Second, in the same hallowed halls I walked as a freshman 22 years ago. It really was too much to bear.

I guess the Milan teacher is in good company. The Chocolate War was the fourth most challenged book from 1990-2000, according to the American Library Association. Why is it challenged? Oh, the usual. Profanity. Masterbation. Violence.

Are these things foreign to thirteen- and fourteen-year old boys? No. Might they be topics that young adults would benefit from the exploration of? Yes.

As one source notes, "One of The Chocolate War's principle themes is the futility of individual protests and resistance in the face of such power structures and, by implication, the importance of collective action." Hmm...any larger implications here for training our next generations of voters?

Alas, last week the Milan School Board voted to remove the book from the English curriculum. It will remain in the library.

Several board members made interesting points. One, a relative of my fifth-grade teacher, said she was concerned that if the vote to remove it from the curriculum didn't go through, somebody could have made a motion to ban it from both the library and the curriculum. So she took the lesser of two evils approach.

Another board member, my sister's second-grade teacher, now retired, voted against the ban (you go, Mrs. Mehringer!). Yet she recognized that it could be extremely offensive and upsetting to some students and she was sympathetic to them.

I am disappointed in the ban. If we do not discuss topics that make us uncomfortable, how will we grow? If schools are prohibited from engaging students in these discussions, then what public forum will?

This is Banned Books Week.


Blogger Julie said...

Yeah, I followed that story too. Very frustrating and depressing, especially to think that's the lesser of two evils.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Courtney said...

I haven't finished the book yet but yea

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Anonymous Courtney's mom said...

Oh, yea baby!! ASL

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Anonymous Courtney said...

that was not my mom, that was nicole haha

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