Most of us regard Kurt Vonnegut's classic novel Slaughterhouse-Five as a masterpiece of thought-provoking science fiction, but the School Board of Republic High School in Missouri felt differently. They decided to ban the novel.
And in response, the Vonnegut Memorial Library offered to provide a free copy to any of the 150 students who were originally supposed to read it.
Top image: a detail from an amazing minimalist poster for Slaughterhouse-Five by artist Frank Chimero for Kitsune Noir Poster Club. See the whole thing below, and buy it here.
Vonnegut's novel filters his World War II trauma through the lens of time travel and alien abduction, and in the process creates some fascinating insights into trauma, history and brutality. But the high school banned the book for creating "false conceptions of American history and government or that teach principles contrary to Biblical morality and truth."
The School Board took the Vonnegut classic under consideration after receiving a complaint from Missouri University professor Wesley Scroggins, about that book and two others. He wrote about Slaughterhouse-Five:
This is a book that 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.
According to a message at the Vonnegut Library, all students from Republic High have to do is email them with their name, address and grade level. They add:
We have up to 150 books to share, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor. 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. We will not share your request or any of your personal information with anyone else.
And for the rest of us, the Vonnegut Library is seeking donations to help supplement the costs of this operation.
The library's executive director, Julia Whitehead, told Reuters in a statement:
It is 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.