The Book of Bunny Suicides by Andy Riley was challenged by one parent who wants the book removed from the library at Central Linn High School. NCAC and ABFFE sent the following letter to the school board in support of keeping the book in the library:
Central Linn Board of Education
Central Linn District Office
331 Blakely Ave.
Brownsville, OR 97327
November 26, 2008
Dear Members of the Board of Education:
We write to oppose efforts to remove the book, The Book of Bunny Suicides by Andy Riley, from the Central Linn High School library. We understand that one parent objected to this book of satirical cartoons of rabbits committing suicide, and that she has asked that the book be removed from the school library.
We urge you not to allow one parent to impose her opinion on others by demanding that the library holdings reflect her personal preferences. Parents may be equipped to make choices for their own children, but, no matter how well-intentioned, they simply are not equipped to make decisions that address the needs of the entire student body.
School officials are bound by constitutional considerations, including a duty not to give in to pressure to suppress unpopular ideas or controversial language. The Supreme Court has cautioned that, “[l]ocal school boards may not remove books from library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to ‘prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.’” Board of Education v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853, 872 (1982)(plurality opinion). This constitutional duty applies with particular force in the school library, which, unlike the classroom, has “a special role…as a place where students may freely and voluntarily explore diverse topics.” Campbell v. St. Tammany Parish School Board, 64 F. 3d 184, 190 (5th Cir. 1995).
Furthermore, the practical effect of acceding to any request to restrict access to materials will be to invite others to demand changes to reflect their beliefs and to leave school officials vulnerable to multiple, possibly conflicting, demands.
The book has been described as “imaginative,” “ingenious,” “hilarious” and “highly inventive.” Some educators, including Central Linn Principal Julie Knoedler, state that books of this kind can encourage reluctant readers. While the book may not appeal to everyone, the role of the library is to allow students to make choices according to their own interests, experiences, and family values. No one has to read something just because it’s on the library shelf.
We strongly urge you to keep The Book of Bunny Suicides in the Central Linn High School Library. Individual freedom, democracy, and a good education all depend on protecting the right to read, inquire, question, and think for ourselves.
If we can be of assistance in this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Joan Bertin Chris Finan
Executive Director President
National Coalition Against Censorship American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression