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Kurt Vonnegut gets the boot in a Missouri school

A high school in Republic, Mo. bans two books, including Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five," after a parent complains about material incompatible with the Bible.

By Husna Haq / July 28, 2011

Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five," has been a source of controversy for decades.


Somewhere, Kurt Vonnegut is laughing.

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Republic High School in Republic, Mo., banned two books, including one of Vonnegut’s, after a parent complained that the books advocate principles contrary to the Bible.

After a yearlong fight, the Republic district’s school board voted unanimously Monday to ban Mr. Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five,” and Sarah Ockler’s “Twenty Boy Summer,” based on the complaints of Republic resident Wesley Scroggins, a professor of management at Missouri State University, and the father of several home-schooled children.

Vonnegut’s work was part of an upper-level English course and will be removed from the curriculum, while Ms. Ockler’s novel will be removed from the library.

One other book under review, “Speak,” by Laurie Halsey Anderson, which includes a short, graphic description of a rape, was deemed instructional, and allowed to remain in the school.

“I congratulate them for doing what's right and removing the two books,” Professor Scroggins told the Columbus, Indiana, Republic newspaper. “It's unfortunate they chose to keep the other book.”

School officials stressed that the move was not a judgment call on the merit of the books, but a decision on whether the books were appropriate for high school students.

“We very clearly stayed out of discussion about moral issues,” Republic School Superintendent Vern Minor told the Republic newspaper. “Our discussions from the get-go were age-appropriateness.”

Mr. Minor said “Twenty Boy Summer” sensationalized sexual promiscuity and included questionable language, drunkenness, lying to parents, and a lack of remorse, while “Slaughterhouse Five” contained crude language and adult themes that are more appropriate for college-age students, according to the Republic newspaper.


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