Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"'We live in a very crazy time, and the suggestion of violence could trigger an irrational act by an unbalanced individual"

The title of this blog was a quote, that I found ridiculous, from a mother regarding the banning of In the Time of the Butterflies in a Port Washington school.

While looking for a book review on the New York Times website, I found an article that I feel should be discussed.
School Board Questions Fitness of Book Because of Bomb Diagram
In the Time of the Butterflies
was in the center of a debate in Port Washington , New York in 2000. The Board of Ed wanted to ban the book because of a sketch in the book depicting the set-up of a homemade bomb. It surprised me that this debate took place in 2000, a pre-September 11th society. The board president says the book should not be part of the curriculum because "'Especially in today's climate, we have problems with a book that gives out instructions on how to build a bomb. I understand that it is a good book, but I don't think it's appropriate that we should be condoning a book that gives out these instructions so easily. We are not banning the book, but we're just not approving it for use in the curriculum.'' How could people who have never read the book judge weather or not the topics are appropriate? The superintendent of this school makes another absurd point on why this book should be banned "I also understand that the drawing is not really relevant to the story. It has come up for discussion that maybe the publisher would be willing to reprint the book without the diagram." Asking the publisher to change the book is like asking an artist to change his painting because it might "influence someone".
Thankfully not everyone in Port Washington is being so closed minded. One mother said "I'm disturbed by the picture, especially because of the violent world we live in, but I'd hate to see good literature sacrificed because of one picture...I don't think that any kid would be influenced enough by a drawing to make a bomb. A disturbed person who wants to make a bomb would somehow find out how to do it.'' I agree with her 100%. This is an important book about a subject many Americans are unfamiliar with. Also, by making such a big deal of the ONE page, students are just going to look for that page first because of all the controversy.
"Whatever the outcome to the debate, it seems to have helped sales of ''In the Time of the Butterflies.'' Mr. Sussman, the school board president, said that since the board sent the book back for re-evaluation, it has sold out at local bookstores."
Denying students this exposure to a different culture would be wrong.