Fahrenheit 451 - the temperature at which books burn

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  • In today’s Sunday Times I read that Schools in Duluth Minnesota have withdrawn Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird because of a concern that students could feel humiliated or marginalised. The school is unable or unwilling to distinguish between depicting racism versus endorsing it.


    This kind of thinking is part of a global disease spreading rapidly through the Western world and is dimming the lights of civilisation.


    Several decades ago the Scopes Monkey Trial into Creation versus Evolution was a deliberate high publicity test case rather than a genuine prosecution. But the pig ignorance - or something more evil that characterises Political Correctness or Neo-Liberal Fascism – is 100% real and has spread well beyond Minnesota.

  • I've not read the article, so cannot comment on that directly, but this feels like the same type of argument that they were having over there about the confederate flag and confederate statues of famous figures.


    The argument goes, that by keeping these things "current" in a way keeps the racism of that time current too. So, if schools are allowed to have books from that era on their reading lists, the argument goes, that in some way keeps the thinking of those times alive too. Same sort of arguments over the confederate flag/statues, although many were arguing that such symbols were part of their culture and should't be eliminated for all time and essentially purged from history.


    I'm not really sure that I agree with that, as the world has moved on from Huckleberry' Finn's time, but if I get the chance I'll read the article and see what the specific arguments were made against the books.

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  • The specific argument is that both books deal with the plight of the negro and that is racist


    As for the statue of famous people who have fallen from grace by the passage of history and modern precepts, you'd think, wouldn't you, that a suitably re-written plaque could preempt the mob's objection

  • I'll have a wander over to the ST and have a look at the article, before saying anything further.


    Edit: can't find the article.

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  • I'll have a wander over to the ST and have a look at the article, before saying anything further.


    Edit: can't find the article.

    Just type into Google "Duluth Minnesota have withdrawn Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird" and you'll get plenty on this news item

  • A school district in Minnesota has pulled To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from its curriculum, arguing that the classic novels’ use of racial slurs risked students being “humiliated or marginalised”.

    OK, I still couldn't find the ST article, but googled it and yes lots about it, above is the link to the Guardian's take on it, which then links to the source, so I'll comment on the source article.


    The novels "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" will no longer be required reading in the Duluth school district due to the books' use of a racial slur, a curriculum change supported by the local NAACP chapter.


    The two books will continue to be available in school libraries and can be optional reading for students, but beginning next school year, they'll be replaced as required reading by other literature that addresses the same topics in ninth- and 11th-grade English classes, said Michael Cary, the district's director of curriculum and instruction.


    The district's intent is to be considerate of all of its students, Cary said. The district owes it to its students to not subject them to a racial slur that marginalizes them in their required learning, he said. He added that district leaders felt that there are many other options in literature that can teach the same lessons as the two novels without containing a racial slur.

    It's always important to go the source for things, as the "story" always changes.


    As can be seen from the source article, the books are not being withdrawn or banned, but they are being taken off the compulsory reading list for that school district. The reason given by the education department for that school district is that students may become "humiliated or marginalized" over the racist language used in the books. Although, as the article goes on, no specific complaint has been made.


    I don't see what the problem is here. The books use racist terms what was "normal" for that era, but as long as students are made aware that these terms are out of date now, I don't see how students can be humiliated for something which was written in a different century.


    The American school district is being PC just for PC's sake. Racist language should not be used anywhere, including on this site, but that does not mean that reading books that contain these outdated terms should be withdrawn and they're not being banned. The books will still be in the school district's library.

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  • In other words you agree with what I said in my thread opening!


    Because I'm sure you recognise that to take these books of the school's prescribed reading list is just the first step down a deep slippery slope. Woe betide a teacher who wants to discuss these two books in a school class in Duluth Minnesota.

  • I agree with your opinion Rob, yes, that depicting racism is not endorsing it. Absolutely.


    But if the ST article was as you said it was, then it was inaccurate. The books are not being withdrawn, they will be still be available from libraries, just not on the compulsory reading lists.


    It seems to me that this American school district has created a storm in a teacup for itself over nothing at all. No doubt,this sort of nonsense will be coming to a British school soon....

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  • I agree with your opinion Rob, yes, that depicting racism is not endorsing it. Absolutely.


    But if the ST article was as you said it was, then it was inaccurate. The books are not being withdrawn, they will be still be available from libraries, just not on the compulsory reading lists.


    It seems to me that this American school district has created a storm in a teacup for itself over nothing at all. No doubt,this sort of nonsense will be coming to a British school soon....

    To satisfy your editor's green eye-shade preoccupation with editorial exactitude, I present at the end of this posting the ST link. It confirms withdrawing the book from Duluth school's curriculum but leaving it in the library.


    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/pas…-and-harper-lee-b0s5mwwtx

    Duluth, Minnesota, is about as far from the Deep South worlds of Huckleberry Finn and Atticus Finch as you could realistically get in the space of one country. But now the schoolchildren of Duluth won’t even be able to learn about those worlds by reading the prose of Mark Twain and Harper Lee. The city’s school district, apparently unable to distinguish between depicting racism and endorsing it, has withdrawn the books from its curriculums because of concerns that their content could make students feel “humiliated or marginalised”. The district’s director of curriculum, Michael Cary, announced that it will replace the books with novels that “teach the same lessons”, minus the racist language. Cary has obviously never come across Ernest Hemingway, either. “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn,” the author said.


    My slip is immaterial to the point I'm making. Either way, what you call a storm in a teacup I call a slippery slope. For an example of where this slope leads take a look at Ontario Canada's pursuit of Political Correctness and the way it curbs free speech, and what Professor Jordan Petersen has to say about that. I started a separate thread on this a few weeks ago and the 2 responses I got were a salutary experience