Students at New Rochelle High School found that pages from their reading assignment, Girl Interrupted, had been ripped out. Turns out: school officials pulled the pages to remove content they deemed “inappropriate” because of sexual content and profanity.
It appears that the books were censored without first undergoing a formal review process. NCAC is working on a formal response to school officials. We’ll keep you posted.
Robert Cox of the Media Bloggers Association broke the story:
Pages from the middle of the book have been torn out by the school district after having been deemed “inappropriate” by school officials due to sexual content and strong language. Removed is a scene where the rebellious Lisa … encourages Susanna … to circumvent hospital rules against sexual intercourse by engaging in oral sex instead.
“The material was of a sexual nature that we deemed inappropriate for teachers to present to their students,” said English Department Chariperson Leslie Altschul, “since the book has other redeeming features, we took the liberty of bowdlerizing.” …
“Bowdlerizing is a particularly disturbing form of censorship since it not only suppresses specific content deemed ‘objectionable,’ but also does violence to the work by removing material that the author thought integral,” said Joan Bertin, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Censorship. “It is a kind of literary fraud perpetrated on an unsuspecting audience.”
Ms. Babcock-Deutsch did not respond to repeated requests to explain the actions of the District in censoring the book by tearing out pages. Don Conetta, principal of the school, and Richard Organisciak, schools superintendent, did not respond to requests for comment. …
“The most shocking part of this story,” said Chris Finan, President of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, “is that an English teacher in the 21st century would consciously emulate the example of Thomas Bowdler, a 19th century man who is infamous for his expurgations of Shakespeare!”