Our View: Book-banning debate public, as it should be

OUR VIEW: EDUCATION

April 3, 2014 

The book banning/burning department of the universe must have an address in the neighborhood of Dante's "Inferno," and no doubt it operates only after midnight.

We believe nothing good happens after midnight in "Inferno."

The good news is that "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," by Sherman Alexie, has not yet been banned by the Meridian School District. It never should be.

The book has been removed from the Meridian curriculum and there is consideration about replacing it. Even if that happens, we haven't heard anybody say the book will be banished from school libraries, where it is presently available. It ought to stay that way.

Though there have been volumes of emotion and opinions offered in the past two weeks about the book - which chronicles the challenges of a teenage Native American who struggles and is bullied at a new (mostly white) urban school - we think the spectrum of community voices has had value.

Parents and the people representing school districts who consider whether books are fit for student consumption have a job to do. This is where the grass-roots local interpretation of taste and suitability come into play.

In fact, it is a prime example of what separates the perception of the Common Core / Idaho Core Standards from the reality.

If the Idaho Core Standards were as diabolical as Dante's "Inferno" and truly managed by the federal government without exception, the fine people of Meridian who object would be without remedy. What really has happened, though, is what should happen. Passionate stakeholders are stepping up to be heard.

The other thing we appreciate about this book episode is that it is transparent and happening before midnight.

Before anybody bans anything because it references adult behavior or language, stakeholders should consider cherished books that share the shelves in Meridian school libraries, such as "The Absolutely True Diary of King David," found in the Old Testament, 2 Samuel, Chapter 11 in the Bible. David might have slayed Goliath, but he also arranged for the death of one of his decorated soldiers, Uriah the Hittite, so he could steal Uriah's wife, Bathsheba. Kind of racy stuff.

We are not comparing "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" to the Bible. That is a job left to dutiful parents who ought to scrutinize curriculum at their schools.

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