Sunday, November 18, 2007

Partial Victory for Pat Conroy

I see that Pat Conroy has received a little good news from West Virginia regarding the banning of two of his books at Nitro High School . It seems that the good folks there have decided to allow Conroy's Beach Music back into an honors English classroom but that they have still not come to their senses regarding The Prince of Tides, one of Conroy's masterpieces.

A majority of community residents and professionals who reviewed the book recently agreed that Shamblin should be allowed to use the novel in his classroom. “Beach Music” and another Conroy novel, “The Prince of Tides,” drew some parents’ criticism earlier this fall for scenes of child rape, sexual assault, violence, suicide and other themes.

“The Prince of Tides” is still suspended at Nitro while the same committee considers its content.
Shamblin told Kanawha County school board members at a meeting later Thursday night that he is strongly opposed to a book-rating system that could flag books with violence, strong language and sexual themes. A proposed policy will be discussed next month.

“Who would be making the decision? The teacher?” Shamblin said.

He offered a policy amendment that would say “a citizen complaint cannot disrupt or impede the educational flow in the classroom.”

Scenes of violence and sexual assault appear in mainstream media every day, Shamblin said, and are not subjected to a ratings system.
The very idea that high school students need to be protected from the contents of a book, especially one of this quality, is ludicrous. These students are exposed to every kind of violence and questionable sexual content every time they turn on a television set, a stereo or play a video game. Isn't it strange that busybodies always seem to have so much time on their hands?


  1. Great blog, Sam. In the sense of RELEVANT.
    No kidding.
    What are we? A stones-throw from bonfires?
    I recently heard of a library that banned one volume of C.S. Lewis's Narnia Chronicles [The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe] because it had a "witch" in it.
    Maybe.... umm... the Library curators should read Arthur Miller's The Crucible?
    Oh wait.... that's banned, too!

  2. Cip, this kind of thing just embarrasses me. I find it hard to believe that it still happens in the modern world. I know that third world governments ban books, as do the Muslim countries in which I've lived and worked, but it doesn't work. It is outrageous that it still happens in the Western world.

  3. Sam, thanks for this post. I totally agree that the implication that high school students need to be "protected" from a book like this is ridiculous. There is no doubt in my mind that the parents opposing this book are the same ones that allow their kids to watch television and movies with little-to-no "censorship" of violence or sexual content. I'm just reading an excellent novel (historical fiction based on true events) called The Sex Ed Chronicles, which depicts the 1980's fight to mandate sex education in New Jersey's schools. Some of the same themes run through this book (education, politics, policy) as in the Nitro/Pat Conroy story. I happen to think that the entire public school system is broken, but that's a whole other endless conversation...!

  4. I have to agree with you, Barbie, about the public school systems. Here in Texas we continue to throw more and more money at the problem with worse results all the time. I'm to the point where I doubt that the system can be fixed anymore.

    Thanks for mentioning The Sex Ed Chronicles...sounds interesting.