We’re getting a jump on Banned Books Week (Sept 24-Oct1) by providing this story from Reuters dated Aug 5th: on April 18, the Republic School District in Missouri voted to ban Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. (The ‘adult’ who made the complaint that lead to the banning of two books asked that the school district “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."). The seven-month-old Vonnegut Library stepped in to offer a free copy to any student in the district who asked for one.
If you’ve never read the book, you should. It is a satirical novel about war and the horrors of it and tells the story of Billy Pilgrim who survived the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, by the allies in WWII. (Dresden had no military value and the massive number of bombs dropped created a firestorm that destroyed the city had no point other than to depress civilian morale. Vonnegut – a decorated vet – was a prisoner of war in Dresden at the time and wrote his book from experience.)
If you’d like to donate to the Vonnegut Library to support their battle against book-banners, please click here.
If you’ve never read it and would like to – and would like to stick your thumb in the eyes of those who think they can tell you what to read – we will happily order a copy for you and give you a 40% discount (our cost) on the book.
Lest you think this doesn't happen in the world of crime and mystery books, you should know that a school board in Virginia banned Arthur Conan Doyle's first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet, last month.
Why, we ask, when we’re marking the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, when we’re patting ourselves on the backs for ‘getting’ bin Laden and wrecking Al Quida and defeating their attempts to destroy our system of freedom and choice – why then are we allowing home-grown narrow-minded fuss-budgets to do the same thing? We should view religious fundamentalism by Muslims to be dangerous and a threat to "American Ideals" and yet not see fundamentalism by any other religion to not be just as dangerous and vile and creepy and 'un-American'? They're the same thing, just different clothes.
If you decry one fanatic telling you what to read, in these days of reflections on 9/11, it has to make sense to fight against anyone trying to ban books.