Saturday, December 11, 2004

Vonnegut on Book Banning

Tommy had a post about Etowah's School Board removing a book from their school library due to 'objectionable' content. I'm reading Kurt Vonnegut's Palm Sunday and the subject of book bannings by school board's is the concern of much of the first chapter.

Here are some excerpts of what Kurt had to say:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of the press, or the right of the people peaceable to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

How could a nation with such a law raise its children in an atmosphere of decency? It couldn't--it can't. So the law will surely be repealed soon for the sake of the children.

And even now my books, along with books by Bernard Malamud and James Dickey and Joseph Heller and many other first-rate patriots, are regularly thrown out of public school libraries by school board members, who commonly say that they have not actually read the books, but they have it on good authority that the books are bad for children.


If you bother to read my books, to behave as educated persons would, you would learn that they are not sexy, and do not argue in favor of wildness of any kind. They beg that people be kinder and more responsible than they often are. It is true that some of the characters speak coarsely. That is because people speak coarsely in real life. Especially soldiers and hardworking men speak coarsely, and even our most sheltered children know that. And we all know, too, that those words really don't damage children much. They didn't damage us much when we were young. It was evil deeds and lying that hurt us.


Here is how I propose to end book-banning in this country once and for all: Every candidate for school committee should be hooked up to a lie-detector and asked this question: "Have you read a book from start to finish since high school? Or did you even read a book from start to finish in high school?"

If the truthful answer is "no," then the candidate should be told politely that he cannot get on the school committee and blow off his big bazoo about how books make children crazy.


"What troubles me most about my lovely country is that its children are seldom taught that American freedom will vanish, if, when they grow up, and in the exercise of their duties as citizens, they insist that our courts and policemen and prisons be guided by divine or natural law."

They really need to pull this book out of public school libraries right now.

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