The American education system loves a good book ban. Angry mums have been trying to get rid of Harry Potter from day one, on account of all the witchcraft. Judy Blume’s classic puberty saga Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, has come under fire for, scandalously, acknowledging the menstrual cycle. And Captain Underpants, which should be compulsory reading as far as we’re concerned, has inspired untold ire for, as far as we can tell, the name ‘Professor Poopypants’.
They’ve also had a go at banning Madonna’s porny coffee table book Sex, but we’re struggling to work out when that was even on the curriculum. Was Sex Ed just really good in the early ‘90s?
Next up for the chop? Harper Lee’s iconic anti-racism parable To Kill a Mockingbird. Actually, tell a lie: To Kill a Mockingbird has been banned from schools loads of times, but this time the reasoning is both more ridiculous and more insidious than usual: apparently, it’s been pulled from the junior-high reading list in Biloxi, Mississippi, because some of the language “makes people uncomfortable”. The N-word, they’re talking about the N-word.
An email sent in to local paper The Sun Herald highlights an even more baffling aspect of this story: some classes were in the middle of reading the book when it was pulled from the syllabus, meaning they had to stop and read something else, wasting a lot of extremely valuable time just because having to look at the N-word in the context of a novel that’s very explicitly about how the N-word is bad riled up some parents.
It’s an especially disturbing decision considering recent events. Nazi marches are now frequent enough that they don’t always make front page news. As the aforementioned email puts it, “I think it is one of the most disturbing examples of censorship I have ever heard, in that the themes in the story humanise all people regardless of their social status, education level, intellect, and of course, race. It would be difficult to find a time when it was more relevant than in days like these.”
Anyway, we’re looking forward to whatever terrible take on this Piers Morgan decides to have*.
*We really, really aren’t.