NBC News - An Alaska school board removed five famous — but allegedly "controversial" — books from district classrooms, inadvertently renewing local interest in the excluded works.
"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou, "Catch-22" by Joseph Heller, "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien, "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald and "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison were all taken off an approved list of works that teachers in the Mat-Su Borough School District may use for instruction.
The school board voted 5-2 on Wednesday to yank the works out of teachers' hands starting this fall. The removed books contain content that could potentially harm students, school board Vice President Jim Hart told NBC News on Tuesday.
"If I were to read these in a corporate environment, in an office environment, I would be dragged into EO," an equal opportunity complaint proceeding, Hart said. "The question is why this is acceptable in one environment and not another."
Well it's about time. Thank you, Mat-Su Borough School District, for running point on this and finally sparing our youth from the horrors of these works that have been poisoning their minds for the last 100 years or so. I'm glad someone has the guts to take a tough stand against the real threat to our young people: Classic literature.
So the 99.9% of your students (not the poors) walk into school every day with a rectangle in their pocket that gives them unlimited access to porn, the dark web, 4chan and a massive stash of nudes they send to each other. What they most urgently need to be protected from are F. Scott Fitzgerald and ironic, paradox-filled, Joseph Heller anti-war novels.
Preventing them from reading things is pretty much the most effective way to educate anyone, I have no doubt. It's been said that the rise in popularity of novels, from "The Decacameron" and "Canterbury Tales" through the Renaissance and beyond, had a profoundly civilizing effect on western culture. Because by reading these works, people learned to empathize with others from being inside the thoughts, feelings and point of view of the characters. But you know that's just fake news. Those experts have been paid off to say these things by Big Fiction.
Besides, this will keep the kids safe. No one has to remind us what happens when you put a poet's autobiography in the hands of young people with impressionable minds. Anyone who thinks Maya Angelou's work isn't going to start trouble is pretending the Robert Frost Riots and the ee cummings Reign of Terror never happened. If we're going to expose our school kids to her rhymeless, unmetered poems, we might as well be putting a gun to their heads. As opposed to, you know, the actual guns they've had to their actual heads all those other times.
Best of all, getting rid of "The Great Gatsby" might save future generations from the embarrassment of attractive, wealthy girls throwing Gatsby parties because they miss the point that Fitzgerald was satirizing the wretched excesses of The Gilded Age, not celebrating them. That alone should make the ban worth it.
If there's one downside to all this, it's that it makes anybody with a brain in their head into Ray Kinsella's wife, the most screechy, annoying, overwrought and tone deaf character in an otherwise great sports movie of all time.
But that doesn't mean she was wrong.
I've been to Juneau to visit my brother's family like four times now. I love that state and those people. I never thought it would come to this. Be better, Alaska.