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School District Pulls To Kill a Mockingbird: It “Makes People Uncomfortable”

15 October 2017

From Slate:

The Biloxi school district in Mississippi has decided to remove To Kill a Mockingbird from its junior-high reading list. The reason? Some of the book’s language “makes people uncomfortable,” the vice president of the school board, Kenny Holloway, said. “There were complaints about it,” he added, “and we can teach the same lesson with other books.” The administrator insisted kids could still go to the library to read the book “but they’re going to use another book in the 8th grade course.”

Although the school administrator doesn’t say it, a parent who first contacted the Sun Herald with the news of the apparent mid-year shift in the reading list said the decision to pull the book was “due to the use of the ‘N’ word.”

. . . .

Many criticized the decision by the school district, including Arne Duncan, who was secretary of Education from 2009-2015 under President Obama. “When school districts remove To Kill a Mockingbird from the reading list, we know we have real problems,” Duncan wrote on Twitter. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska also blasted the move, calling it “a terrible decision.”

Link to the rest at Slate

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19 Comments to “School District Pulls To Kill a Mockingbird: It “Makes People Uncomfortable””

  1. They might as well pull all the other books while they’re at it, there’s nothing out there that won’t make someone ‘uncomfortable’ …

    • That’s exactly what I was thinking, Allen. Someone will find a problem with any and every book. Depending on your upbringing and cultural background, or personal politics and knowledge of history (of lack of knowledge of history) every book is upsetting/disturbing/offensive.

  2. As adherence to organized religion has decreased, the same basic human drives that religion once met are creating articles of faith in other areas. Accusations of heresy are accepted without question. Human nature does not change.

    The Chinese Cultural Revolution is an interesting parallel.

    • What makes you think adherence to organised religion has decreased?
      From where I’m standing people have just exchange the old religions like Christianity and Judaism for newer ones like secular liberalism and feminism.

    • “The Chinese Cultural Revolution is an interesting parallel.”

      S*** were meant to be the American Red Guards. Fortunately they went too far and turned them into a mob of shrieking pansies.

  3. All my teachers taught me to make my writing disturbing and offensive.

    Dan

  4. Disgraceful.

  5. Home schooling looks better all the time.

    • I never read ANY of the books typically given in high school. I got to do a Creative Writing course and a course on Science Fiction instead. With a literary slant yes, but much more interesting. A few years back I contacted the people who made the course and asked for a list of the stories that had been in it. Of course I’ve since lost the list, but its in my email somewhere. (The Birds is much, much, much creepier than the movie).

      Yay for options in homeschooling!

  6. i keep thinking the van allen belt [sp] is unduly influencing minds to go insane in the northern hemisphere again

  7. I keep wondering when all these special snowflakes will realize that life is uncomfortable.

    No one grows up or lives in a safe cocoon. The Harvey Weinstein brouhaha has given rise to a number of Facebook threads asking how many women have experienced sexual harassment. I’d venture to say almost all women have at one time or another. My father was an alcoholic which made my childhood, and particularly my teen years, “interesting.” I’ve experienced not-so-veiled age discrimination in the workplace.

    Sanitizing our experience of history and culture doesn’t make the problem non-existent. It only makes it more difficult to talk about and share and understand. And, hopefully, change.

    • +++

      “Sanitizing our experience of history and culture doesn’t make the problem non-existent. It only makes it more difficult to talk about and share and understand. And, hopefully, change.”

  8. One of the most significant awarenesses about race and prejudice that I ever had came from reading Huckleberry Finn when I was a teenager. Huck is at a farmhouse pretending to be a girl who has survived a steamboat wreck. The woman asks him if anyone was hurt. He says, “No ma’am. Killed a n*****.” I was shocked and appalled to realize that ordinary, well-meaning white people could disregard black people to the point of not even seeing them as people. As a white person from a mostly white, rural area, I had never even met a black person then, so this “disturbing” language was eye-opening. I compare this to another book I read recently, “Celia Garth,” by Gwen Bristow, a well-known historical novelist from the 1950’s and 60’s. The book is set in Charleston during the American Revolution, has several important characters who are slaves, and never once uses the word “slave.” It’s as if, for the author, the whole institution of slavery either never existed or was utterly benign. To avoid difficult topics for fear of upsetting people just pushes differences, resentments, and fears deeper and lets them fester–it shuts off conversations that might be disturbing but are essential to have.

  9. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t reader discomfort the whole point of _To Kill a Mockingbird_?

  10. Statues, Columbus, books, founding fathers, the flag, the anthem… who needs all of those vestiges of Western Civilization?

  11. Perhaps the Dunning-Kruger effect should apply to the school board, eh?

  12. Eh, honestly, TKAM wasn’t that big to me in school. The only discomfort came for the fact it wasn’t the least bit enjoyable or interesting, and I ended up swapping to sparknotes about half-way through because it was making me actively dislike reading. Only book I hated more in school was Lord of the Flies.

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