You’ve heard that term before, right? Any time someone says anything contrary to the established beliefs of small vocal radical conservative groups, and they are on the East coast–heck, even if they’re in downtown Chicago–the perception these people give is that any one who disagrees with them are “elitists.”  I doubt most understand what the word means, let alone could point one out in a crowd. And ‘elitist’ seems to only apply to so-called liberals. Never libertarians, undecideds, or, eek! conservatives. And it’s used in the context that some how to live on the east coast and think, makes one out of touch with reality, and immoral, whatever that is to whomever is doing the name calling.

The reason I bring this term up? The latest in the banning of books–this time in Missouri, hence, my gratefulness at being from an area where this kind of stupidity and interference of religious views in high school curriculum doesn’t happen, or at least, not that I’ve heard. And, I’m assuming, that means in their eyes, I’m an east coast elitist.

I’m old. Well, relatively old. When I was in high school, little children, Slaughterhouse Five was not just taught, it was required reading, and necessary reading. We were at war, nothing new there, right, and the war was unpopular, nothing new there either, but this war was being fought by the kid sitting next to you–in a year–the draft was on and everyone was vulnerable–well everyone who wasn’t a politician’s son or who had the bucks for a fake doctor’s report, or went to college or Oxford. And Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut explored those themes, not in present day terms, but through a look at the way our country handled a part of WWII in Germany. The book is meant to be offensive, to be hard to take, to be thought-provoking. Isn’t that what life is? And isn’t that what schooling is supposed to do–prepare you for life?

Then why, oh people in the school district of Republic, MO, do you allow one, let me repeat the same old mantra, one, just one man to dictate that this book and another, be removed from the school library? Are your children too tender to read about the destruction war brings? Are they too stupid to be able to understand what the book is about, you don’t want their brains taxed? Or it is something worse, something that shouldn’t be allowed under our constitution, but always is- religion- in particular, this one man’s beliefs, that has dictated Slaughterhouse Five as teaching values contrary to the bible. That’s right, the bible would never expose its readers to the ravages of war, the consequences of hatred.

Oh, and did I mention this man, uh, has no children?

Ok, that’s not really a major point, in a way, because if one has no children one can still want kids to get an education, like I do, but it does tend to make his argument a little weirder. 

So. Slaughterhouse and Twenty Boy Summer, by Sarah Ockler (never heard of it, now it’s a must read) were removed from the library’s shelves. But hey, apparently not all of the citizens of Republic agreed with this course of action, so, forget about my earlier depictions of their children. A brouhaha was raised, and the result? Were the books returned to the shelves, yes! 

Are the students able to read them at their leisure or study hall or whatever? No. No, you may query, but how can that be–the books are in the school library again, why can’t young Billy grab his library card and borrow the title?

They’re back, yes. Can students themselves check them out? No. NO! A teacher or guardian must do it for them!!

No, the poor students aren’t the problem here. They want to read and learn, just like I did, and supposedly their parents also did. But unless those parents feel that certain books will help their children learn, they are not allowed access to them in their own library.

Is this what NOT being an east coast elitist is like? Hiding, afraid of words, sentences, paragraphs, because one extreme religious fanatic decides certain books are teaching values contrary to his personal religious tome? Are Jewish, Wiccan, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist  and any other non-Christian high schooler supposed to just take this arbitrary religious decision in stride? So, now that the books are locked away, someone who doesn’t even read the bible, has no dictates emanating from it must first ask his PARENT if he can read a perfectly acceptable book before Mr. Self Righteous  took offense?

How is this not imposing a specific religion upon a government-run school system?

And even more nauseating, the school board has praised this entire episode with creating a ‘standard’ for choosing books for the school from now on.

“Any books that fail to meet the standards will be removed from the curriculum and will not be assigned as required readings or read aloud by a teacher. They will be available for independent reading. Parents will be allowed to refuse to have their children read certain books.”

That’s right–the book is not allowed to be READ ALOUD. Yes, let’s keep education in the hands of the parents, and them alone. Hey, isn’t there something called home schooling that already does that?

I keep believing that no new story about censorship or banning of certain books can be more outrageous than what came before, and I keep being proved wrong.

So, what do we all learn from this new episode, girls and boys? That 40 years ago the school systems didn’t listen to every Tom, Harry, and dick as to what should or shouldn’t be in the school’s library? That Republic MO isn’t a school district for those who want their children to get an education? Oh, if it were only just one town in one area of the country that is Censorship Land. But this area is spreading–tentacles are reaching far and wide–Oregon- then New Hampshire, which last I looked, is pretty much on the East Coast–and Virginia–definitely East Coastish, I could go on, but why depress myself. The fact is, Censorship Land is a thriving metropolis eager to find new locations in which to conquer. I can only hope that some of the ‘east coast elitism’ will repel this movement from encompassing this part of the country. 

Thank you, Mr. Oberparleiter, for assigning and teaching books like Slaughterhouse Five. We who were taught, are better for it.

Thanks to Banned Books Week for the link to this story.






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5 thoughts on “Why I Am Thrilled to Be An 'East Coast Elitist'”

  1. *Sigh* I’m a writer, a fifteen-year bookstore employee and a Southerner. I’m caught in a strange spot, living in an area where banning is the norm, yet working in an environment where my co-workers are all liberal and very much in favor of free speech. There’s a stark division between the philosophies of our employees and the backwoods beliefs of our customers–yet we’re all from the same place.

  2. As a Christian, “Right Wing”, “Constitution Believing”, “Clinging to guns and religion” “Patriotic American Citizen” I think this posting should be banned, nay, even deleted from the internet and Diane Plumley put in the stocks!

    Just kidding about the banning part but the names/labels I’ve attached to myself are true. Oh! Kidding about the stocks too. I appreciate you Diane. Sometimes disagree with you but name 2 people that agree on everything in life.

    I would like to point out that it was ONE (1) person that brought complaint concerning the books in question. Indeed most of the time it is a VERY small number of people (usually one) that act this way yet many people then blame the entire community that one person seems to ‘come from’ or ‘represents’. I say ‘seems to’ because I’ve been a Christian since the very early 70’s and seldom run into these folks on the streets or even inside church buildings.

    I can say the same about politically correct people that demand the construction signs no longer be labeled “Men Working” but instead have a gentler, more gender inclusive message such as “Persons Working”. (OH! Wait! ‘Persons’ has the word ‘son’ in it and that denotes malehood. Gotta come up with another word…)

    Might be the circles I travel in but as said, I seldom meet these people! Neither the book banner nor the PC protester. Where are they? Most people I meet, when these things are mentioned just shake their heads and go on with life. – On the TV news programs I’m told of people protesting some issue and then they show a clip with 5-10 people screaming/protesting about some silly issue as people walk by shaking their heads.

    I say what the school board should have done was laugh in the guys face and walk out leaving him alone in the room. Don’t have him removed or ejected from the building. Just leave him there to talk to himself. Eventually he might get the idea.

    Free speech is a right given to us as citizens but please notice there is not a single word about forcing anyone to listen or even act upon it. The various school boards and libraries where a book ban is called for need to learn this.

    1. Oh, I agree with every word you wrote, except maybe me being in the stocks, although my husband may cheer that idea on, lol. I too don’t know where all these nut cases are–my husband is Christian, and a reasonable nice fella. I’m certainly not blaming every Christian conservative at all–that’s why I stressed small group of people–and yes! It is always one darn person! And why the powers that be allow one person to dictate to the school board is insane! I have some lively political debates with my neighbor, and with my great book friend, the one who found the Plumley Inheritance for me, yet remain the best of pals with them because that’s all they are–debates, ideas–no one pushing themselves to one extreme or another.
      And I also agree with politically correct people being the other side of the coin–ugh, some of the ridiculous things they do–including ONE person demanding a Sherlock Holmes book be removed because it depicted Islam badly.
      I love then idea of just leaving the room with the unreasonable person within. The minute school boards give into one person’s insanity, they look just as insane. I feel badly for the kids.
      Hey, thanks for commenting–I may not always agree either, but you are like my pals, we can discuss without malice creeping in, lol.

  3. I should have added that while in high school I avidly read Vonnegut and found I agreed and disagreed with him on many issues. In spite of the disagreements I enjoyed his writings. “So it goes.” – Never had any of his writings as ‘required reading’ though. That I would have protested because anything they ‘required’ me to read I hated.

    As far as the labeling/name calling goes both sides like to sling mud through names & words hoping something sticks. Read about the elections shortly after the founding of this nation and you will see it is nothing new. It was not uncommon for one candidate to call the other a drunkard and to be called a womanizer in return. The accusations flew fast and furious. Much worse than today.

    Here is a sample and a link
    John Adams is a hideous hermaphroditical character with neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.

    1. LOL!! OMG that is is hysterical! Yes, I knew that they slung more than mud back then, and yet, they still managed to create a system of government that stands up through the centuries, well, until now, I guess. But that line is special. Tee hee. I know Adams and Jefferson despised each other–but how would this country have shaped up without both of them on the scene, arguing and coming to common ground eventually. Even though mud flew, in the end these men did what was right for their new fledgling country. I wish that sentiment prevailed today.

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