Banned Books Week got off to a rousing start this year with the publication of a letter from Wesley Scroggins, Missouri State University professor of management, in The Springfield News-Leader. The letter, "Filthy books demeaning to Republic education," listed books on Scroggins's hit list, including Speak, Slaughterhouse Five, and Twenty Boy Summer, all of which are on the syllabus at the local public high school or recommended reading in the school library. Scroggins enumerated some of the books' offensive material, imploring parents and taxpayers to ask if this was how they wanted to spend their money and educate their children.
Scroggins was subsequently excoriated across the blogosphere for his censorship, misreading of several of the books' themes, and poor writing. On one publishing blog, a literary agent's assistant offered her tongue-in-cheek editorial services and went through Scroggins's letter line by line with suggestions on sentence construction, punctuation, and grammar. (The link is here; as a warning, it contains language that might be offensive to some. I'll leave the decision to censor or not up to readers.)
If nothing else, Scroggins's letter shows that we're still pretty divided on the subject of banned books, especially about what is and is not appropriate material for children.
Last year, in her Her.meneutics post about Banned Books Week, Ruth Moon concluded, "If we are going to get up in arms (rightly, I would argue) about banning things that are offensive to others, we at times have to be willing to take criticism and swallow offense ourselves. If all truth really is God's truth, well, the truth can set us free, if we let it." I spent some time thinking about truth and its role in literature—specifically ...1
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