I came across a great article out by today by The National Review that I highly recommend. It involves a topic near and dear to me and one that was discussed here via this blog a few weeks earlier.
Here are a few excerpts:
The desire to stamp out disturbing expression is illiberal.
When the censors come, it will be with a smile on their face and unctuous talk about your feelings on their lips. It’s for your own good, they’ll say. Art that takes a stand against hatred will be confused with hate speech. In the spirit of inclusion, they’ll exclude. Don’t you know this isn’t safe? They’ll say, as they rip the book out of your hands. Yanking The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird from school curricula, the Duluth School District in Minnesota is citing the offensive words they contain. This isn’t censorship, quite: The books will still be available in school libraries. They will simply be removed from lists of required reading lists. Nevertheless, the decision is motivated by the censorious impulse, the desire to stamp out this or that disturbing expression. Which is understandable sometimes, because such types of content are not suitable for everyone, especially if you’re to think of the more mature content aimed towards adults.
…No specific complaint triggered the decision, Cary added, but for “a number of years” some students have said the racial slurs make them feel uncomfortable. The Duluth school district thinks so little of its students’ ability to cope with texts containing bad words and bad people that it is acting like the genteel pretend prince in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels who requires his mentally deficient brother, Ruprecht, to put a cork on the end of his fork so he won’t stab himself in the eye with it.
…You could argue that To Kill a Mockingbird isn’t a great book – that it’s schematic, or dated, or that its white-savior storyline is patronizing to black readers. A case could be made that today’s young people find Huckleberry Finn boring or unreadable or too far removed from today’s discussions about race. But if you think Mark Twain and Harper Lee are degrading to black people because their characters use racist language, you’re doing literature wrong.
AMEN. Stories of censorship like the one above no longer cause me to be frustrated or angry. They make me afraid.
In the name of protection from words, we are destroying our own history. Literature is the echo of who we were so that we might better understand who we might be. To systematically destroy that is to destroy ourselves.
What’s next? Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings? Or Javier Marias’s A Heart so White?
Once the knives of the extreme left and the extreme right are finished carving off chunks of ourselves what will remain?
It’s a very dangerous and slippery slope.
Comedian George Carlin warned of this many years ago – IT’S THE CONTEXT:
“We can’t be afraid of words that speak the truth – even if it’s an unpleasant truth.”