'Decide for yourself,' says director Julia Whitehead, responding to school ban by giving away 150 copies of Slaughterhouse-Five
by: Alison Flood
"To hell with the censors!" said Kurt Vonnegut. "Give me knowledge or give me death!" Now the late author's memorial library is acting on his words, giving 150 copies of his seminal novel Slaughterhouse-Five away for free to students at the Missouri school that banned it late last month.
The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library is asking interested pupils at Republic High School in Missouri to drop it an email requesting a free copy of Slaughterhouse-Five after an anonymous donor provided it with 150 copies of the book. "We think it's important for everyone to have their First Amendment rights. We're not telling you to like the book ... we just want you to read it and decide for yourself," said Julia Whitehead, the library's executive director, in a note on its website entitled "stop the madness".
Last month the school's board voted to ban Slaughterhouse-Five and Sarah Ockler's young adult novel Twenty Boy Summer from its curriculum and library following a Missouri professor's complaints about their content. In a column for the local paper, Wesley Scroggins wrote that Slaughterhouse-Five "contains so much profane language, it would make a sailor blush with shame. The 'f word' is plastered on almost every other page. The content ranges from naked men and women in cages together so that others can watch them having sex to God telling people that they better not mess with his loser, bum of a son, named Jesus Christ."
In a statement to the Huffington Post, Whitehead said that it was "shocking and unfortunate that those young adults and citizens would not be considered mature enough to handle the important topics raised by Kurt Vonnegut, a decorated war veteran".
"Everyone can learn something from his book," she said. "All of these students will be eligible to vote, and some may be protecting our country through military service in the next year or two."