The Drake North Dakota School Book Burning issue of 1973. Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five deemed obscene for Sophomore High School students. And Faulkner almost got it too.
September 9, 2010

Just plain folks and their just plain righteousness

Never seems to be an end to stories about books being burned. It's almost a historic rite of passage, and in some cases good for sales. But the bottom line is, there is always someone around eager to force their way of thinking, however narrow, on the public in general under the guise of "protecting morals" while spouting pious righteousness at every opportunity and stir up the sentiments of the unstable with gleeful abandon.

Today it's the Quran and that centuries old battle of religions vying for popularity among the masses and always the extremist element barking the loudest. To some people, the Crusades just never ended. To other people, the ones spewing hypocritical compassion, the opportunity is just too good to miss.

But there is that thing about books and censorship and "if we just burn it people will forget it ever existed" that's been with us for just as long.

Take for example the incident in Drake North Dakota in 1973, where some allegedly obscene books wound up being exposed to High School students. The culprits were works of Faulkner, Salinger and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut and the uproar they caused among the righteous.

Drake School Board Official: “The only objection we have is that the language used within the book is not necessarily for sophomore students in high school. They probably do come in contact with that type of language, but we feel we shouldn’t force them to read this type of material.”

Well, the times and circumstances may have changed with reference to High School students, and maybe it's no longer a case of creating mass bonfires of books. But the desire to censor and force dictates of the righteous are still there in the form of Internet Providers and Social Media. The bonfire is no longer accelerated by the match but the delete button.

There is the notion about Hate Speech, but there is also that slippery slope - the difference between inciting and being insightful and how it can be manipulated.

They didn't have that problem in Drake at the time. There are now bigger, more subtle fish to fry.

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