Patterico's Pontifications

10/16/2017

Tonight’s Grammar Question

Filed under: General — JVW @ 10:50 pm

[guest post by JVW]

To be precise, shouldn’t it be “I too”?

– JVW

Biloxi School District On Killing A Mockingbird

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:09 pm

[guest post by Dana]

The Biloxi Public School District has targeted the eloquent, Pulitzer Prize winning classic, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” for removal from the district’s eighth grade curriculum because it made some people “uncomfortable”. Oh, the bitter irony. But given that making sure students feel comfortable seems to be the goal at public institutions of education these days, I guess you could say that Biloxi is right on point:

Kenny Holloway, vice president of the Biloxi School Board said, “There were complaints about it. There is some language in the book that makes people uncomfortable, and we can teach the same lesson with other books.

“It’s still in our library. But they’re going to use another book in the 8th grade course.”

When asked Thursday morning if the book had been pulled from the course, Superintendent Arthur McMillan issued a statement five hours later that said: “There are many resources and materials that are available to teach state academic standards to our students. These resources may change periodically. We always strive to do what is best for our students and staff to continue to perform at the highest level.”

McMillan did not answer any questions on the issue.

It is believed that the use of the n-word, which appears almost 50 times in the book, is what prompted the decision. According to the American Library Association, the renowned classic “was the 21st most-challenged book in the United States for the first decade of the 21st century”. Yet, context is everything:

“What exactly is a n—– lover?” Scout asks her father in “Mockingbird,” which is set in 1930s Alabama.

“It’s hard to explain,” replies the father, a lawyer who spends much of the book defending a black man falsely accused of rape.

“Ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody’s favoring Negroes over and above themselves,” he tells Scout. “It’s slipped into usage with some people like ourselves, when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody.”

The decision to take this book off the curriculum list appears to have been made devoid of understanding the context in which the n-word is used.

It’s mind-boggling that in 2017, the school district – an entity predominantly made up of professional educators charged with educating their young charges – has opted for censorship rather than bravely leading students through the many troubling, rich truths that the story has to offer about racial inequality and injustice: a story depicting life in the segregated South, with the sympathetic main characters being an honorable black man who finds himself falsely accused of rape, and an equally honorable white man, who in spite of tremendous odds and public sentiment against him, comes to the defense of the accused. And all the while, three children learn that loving one’s neighbor as oneself and treating them with the same respect with which they wish to be treated has absolutely nothing to do with anyone’s skin color.

As a concerned reader wrote to the Sun Herald:

“I think it is one of the most disturbing examples of censorship I have ever heard, in that the themes in the story humanize 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.”

A quick perusal of the Biloxi Public Schools school board meeting agenda for tomorrow, Oct. 17, doesn’t list the removal of the book as an item of discussion (or vote) on its agenda page.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana


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