Stefan Kanfer, City Journal, October 20, 2017
The history of banned books in the U.S. provides a list of must-reads of American literature.
In the past, it was the uptight, upright moralizers who proscribed the offending books. No longer. Today, the job is taken by timorous education officials in the name of sensitivity. Take To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee’s 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel has just been banned from the school curriculum in Biloxi, Mississippi. “There were complaints about it,” explained board vice president Kenny Holloway. “There is some language in the book that makes people uncomfortable.” Mockingbird tells the story of Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of rape in segregated 1930s Dixie. Neither the town jail nor the efforts of the incorruptible white attorney, Atticus Finch, can protect the victim from a lynch mob bent on murder. Of course there were complaints about the book; of course it made some readers uncomfortable. That’s the point of such books, to get people out of their “comfort zone.”
It’s a mistake now being committed in Biloxi, where, not that long ago, those who wanted to destroy freedom of thought wore white sheets and carried the banner of the Klan. Now they come in business suits and dresses, bearing bromides of “trigger warnings,” “safe spaces,” and “uncomfortable” works of art.