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"Slaughterhouse Five" ban is reversed – sort of – at a Missouri school

"Slaughterhouse Five" and another banned book are now back in the Republic High School library – but must stay in a restricted area.

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Minor told the Houston Chronicle that the uproar over Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse” was the catalyst for a new books policy at the Republic High School.

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"The book challenge actually created an opportunity for us as a school district, not just to look at the three books in isolation but to also develop a set of standards that we could use from this point forward," Minor said. "Those standards would do two things for us – help us resolve the public complaint ... and establish parameters to help staff make decisions in the future."

Already, the decision has many upset. The National Coalition Against Censorship, among others, called the restricted area of the library “a literary gulag” and said the decision to keep books there “undermines the intellectual freedom of students and teachers.”

In a news release the coalition said, "The literary gulag is obviously an attempt to calm anger at the outright removal of the books.”

In the release, NCAC Executive Director Joan Bertin, went on, "In their ridiculous notion of a 'compromise,' a 17-year-old will have to bring in mom or dad to check out books of inarguable artistic and educational merit. The board also continues to override the judgment of dedicated and experienced teachers by banning the works from required reading lists in the classroom."

The Joplin Globe’s Editorial board concurred in an editorial. “Instead of making it harder for books to be removed from library shelves, it will make it easier.”

At the very least, we’re sure Vonnegut would appreciate the irony. The “Slaughterhouse Five” of the book's title refers to barracks at a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp. Now the book itself will be imprisoned in a “secure section” of school libraries.

What do you think? Was the solution a good compromise? Or does it make it easier to remove books from library shelves?

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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