Proponents of book bans use all manner or pseudo-logical arguments to defend their rational for keeping children away from powerful works of literature. And now, in the age of the social justice warrior, book bans are gaining even more support.
A Virginia school district has jumped on this band wagon of political correctness and banned The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Why? Because both books contain racial slurs.
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Both of these texts are celebrated for being groundbreaking literary works. Both deal with issues of racial inequality. The protagonists in both stories come face-to-face with the dominant ideologies of racism and decide to fight against it. The two books would be held up as monumental, if subtle, tools in the artistic fight against racism. So, by all means, let’s ban them.
The Virginia district has banned the texts after a parent complained that her high school-aged son was traumatized by both books’ use of racial slurs.
The parent informed school administrators that the use of racial slurs was “excessive.” She told the administrators that she doubted the literary value of the works. Despite more than a century of children reading Huck Finn, this one parent has decided that teenagers are not mature enough to put these racial slurs into context. She doesn’t feel teenagers have the capacity to understand the historical value of the works.
And the parent isn’t just concerned for her son, who is bi-racial. In fact, she’s claiming her son’s race has nothing to with it. The ban will keep all kids in the county from facing this problem, and that’s her ultimate aim.
“I keep hearing, ‘This is a classic, This is a classic,’ … I understand this is a literature classic. But at some point, I feel that children will not — or do not — truly get the classic part — the literature part, which I’m not disputing,” she said at a school board meeting in November. “This is great literature. But there are racial slurs in there and offensive wording that you can’t get past that.”
“There is other literature they can use,” she said.
Let’s break down the plot of Huck Finn. Huck, who is a rapscallion and juvenile delinquent, flees an abusive father and sets off on his own. On his journey, he befriends Jim, a runaway slave. In Jim, Huck finds the father figure he never had. At the book’s most emotionally climactic moment, Huck decides he is willing to go to hell if it means Jim gets his freedom.
A white boy, assisting a runaway slave, decides a black man’s freedom is worth more than the fate of his eternal soul. This is what’s being banned because someone felt “triggered.”
The school board pulled both books.