A couple of recent censorship attempts at public libraries have been squashed, but yesterday a group of parents succeeded in banning four short stories from high school classrooms in Litchfield, New Hampshire. School Superintendent Elaine F. Cutler stated that stories by authors including Stephen King, David Sedaris, and Ernest Hemingway will be removed from the “Love/Gender/Family” unit of a senior English class at Campbell High School.
At a school board meeting on Wednesday, about 25 “irate” parents demanded the stories’ immediate removal. The objections, first raised by parent Sue Ann Johnson, center around themes of cannibalism, homosexuality, drug use, rape, murder, and abortion in the stories. King’s “Survivor Type,” Sedaris’ “I Like Guys*,” Laura Lippman’s “The Crack Cocaine Diet,” and Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” are the stories now banned.
Superintendent Cutler took a strong stance in favor of censorship:
We regret and apologize for the use of this inappropriate material in our schools and we will redouble our efforts to insure that staffs at all schools comply with adopted policies and procedures.
It looks as though English teachers may be interrogated as to their rationale for including such incendiary short stories in the curriculum. Plus, Kevin Smith of Cornerstone Policy Research says he’s considering taking legal action against the school, presumably for exposing “children” to this kind of literature. Parents cited Litchfield’s “traditional values” as a reason that the stories, while perhaps permissible in “Cambridge, Mass., or L.A., or even Hanover,” according to Smith, should not be taught in their own public schools.
Contact the Litchfield School Board to tell them you don’t support censoring literature. Reach School Board chair Dennis Miller at dmiller @ litchfieldsd.org and/or (603)-578-3570.
* Hear David Sedaris reading “I like guys” on the This American Life show here.