Mildly incensed by a recent burp of stupidity from my home town, I sent this letter to the superintendent of the Durango school district and to the editor of the local newspaper:
I grew up in Durango and attended its excellent public schools from kindergarten through graduation from DHS in 1995.
It was with great embarrassment and dismay that I found my beloved home town of Durango in the national news this week. Dana Nilsson's comments on the Newbery Medal-winning book The Higher Power of Lucky which appeared in February 18th's New York Times paint Durango as a provincial backwater and undermine the reputation and achievements of its students and schools. No matter how well-intentioned those remarks may have been, nothing makes a town or its people seem foolish quite so effectively as censorship of children's books.
If the word "scrotum" is so egregiously radioactive in its medical correctness that a Newbery winner is deemed off-limits, then a deeper purge of the libraries is in order--who knows how much damage might be caused if a classic like All Creatures Great and Small fell into the wrong hands? When I was a student in Durango's public schools, we regularly encountered dangerous, controversial books as a part of our curricula; often-banned works like Huck Finn, Bridge to Terebithia, and Of Mice and Men enriched our educations and made us better people.
The last time I saw Durango schools in the news, Smiley Middle School students were being strip-searched at a field trip. It made a bit of a splash on CNN. Are these really the kinds of waves that Durango wants to make in the world?
Do I have any illusions that it'll make a difference? Not really. But when one's home town shows up on Neil Gaiman's blog, one is forced to take certain measures.
Shocking update! I received a gracious reply from Dr. Barter just seventeen short minutes later that clarified the matter of the book's treatment in the library in question--it has not been completely removed but shelved with the young adult section and available for checkout. So shame on the NYT for pulling a Daily Show maneuver and lumping my home town in with the scrotum-fearing book-banners.
Also--and I should know better than for this to surprise me, but it does anyway--thanks to the charming smallness of Durango, Dr. Barter recognized my last name right away and connected me to my parents. I must have gotten used to being comfortably anonymous after almost twelve years here in Cleveland.
- Mood: righteous