Today in school, our librarian showed us a movie. It was an older movie called “The Day they came to Arrest the Book.” And in the movie, towards the end of the storyline, one of the teachers tells of a book. After the censorship-happy principal orders Charles Dickens’s “Great Expectations” removed from the shelf (citing parental censorship as the motivation), this teacher has an idea. Mrs. Salters was the teacher’s name, and her story goes something like this.
“I told Mr. Moore, the principal of our high school, about a book. I told him a story from this book that he would most surely find repulsive. ‘A man and his mistress go into the woods for a quiet retreat. On their way home, three thugs approach them. They kidnap the mistress and kill her. Then, when her body makes its way back to the man, he cuts her body and takes it to show his fellow countrymen about the thugs in the woods.’ When I was finished telling this story, Mr. Moore, the principal, was furious. He demanded that the book be removed from the shelves. He said that the book was the most repulsive material that he had ever heard. He was infuriated. Until I told him what book it is.”
“The story that I just told you is from the Book of Judges, in the Bible. Suddenly Mr. Moore wasn’t so angry anymore.”
The underlying message is that literature is a work of art. Authors have the right to express themselves freely, as declared in the First Amendment of the Constitution. Parents, censorship begins at home. If you don’t want your child reading a book that you find offensive, immoral, or the like, that’s OK. We understand.
But please, please, don’t start a war over it. Children are losing educational reading material, books like “The Jungle,” “The Outsiders,” “Fahrenheit 451.” Even the Bible is being lost.
Children are our future. Let’s make their future a rich, diverse, enlightening one.