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Worlds Without End Blog

Vonnegut Unbanned (sort of) Posted at 7:00 AM by Rico Simpkins

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Books are Dangerous!We have an update on that school board in Missouri that banned Slaughterhouse-Five from a high school libary. In case you missed it, the Republic school district had banned two books (including Vonnegut‘s masterpiece) after a citizen (who did not have children in the district) complained that they contradicted his interpretation of the Bible. Since then, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library has offered to give away 150 copies of Slaughterhouse-Five, and the ACLU has expressed interest in litigating the policy.

After all of the blinding national attention, the board reconsidered its position and is allowing the books to return to library shelves. It isn’t a complete victory for free speech advocates, as they will only allow parents to check out the books on behalf of their children. This may mean that students may still read the book in the reading room, as well (this has not yet been tested). What do you think of this compromise?

All of this comes just in the nick of time for Banned Books Week, which starts this Saturday. In celebration, we suggest that you get to work on the Banned Science Fiction & Fantasy Books list that we introduced in July. You can kick things off by reading any of Vonnegut’s banned books for only $3.99 on Kindle.

By the way, if you know of a banned SF/F book that has not made our list, please let us know in the comments. We’ll add it right away.

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5 Comments

gallyangel   |   23 Sep 2011 @ 22:30

Boo!!! The guy that started this particular round sounds like one who would thump the constitution the second anyone even thought to pull something he likes to read, but in turn insists it’s his duty to protect us from certain things to read. People that pathetic should be dealt with by ignoring them with silence.

Dave Post   |   24 Sep 2011 @ 08:16

Honestly, I think this is a fair enough compromise. The book is available again but with a restriction that’s a bit of a nuisance. As a parent, I’d like to know what my child is reading especially if it’s something more mature like Slaughterhouse-Five. These are young minds we’re talking about and a little parental guidance is still warranted. They have at least given the right of refusal to the parents and not the school board. That’s a step in the right direction.

Rico Simpkins   |   24 Sep 2011 @ 08:58

I’d like to know whether it’s possible for a student to read the book in the reading room (without checking it out), or whether an adult student (18) still needs a parent to come check out the book. It’s unfortunate that teachers can’t yet teach this book in class, as well. Still, the local library (not the school one) is highlighting the book for Banned Books Week, and the kids are reading the book in larger number precisely *because* it is banned. The ban did the opposite of what it was intended to do.

gallyangel   |   24 Sep 2011 @ 12:50

Bans like this always produce the opposite effect. It is practically a marketing strategy these days: if you can get some spouter to do his thing about your book, it garners more attention and more sales.

Mattastrophic   |   27 Sep 2011 @ 13:55

@Dave: I agree that this is a fair-enough compromise. It’s similar to how parents have to approve for kids to buy M-Rated games or accompany them to R-rated movies (well, are "supposed" to anyway; my introduction to the idea of pot culture was sneaking in to see "Half Baked" before I even knew what pot was, so it’s an imperfect system, granted). It also means that parents have to deal with the issue instead of passing the buck to the school and thereby trampling over everyone’s rights just because parents don’t want to keep involved in the media their children are absorbing; easier to ban than get involved, I guess.

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