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Vern Minor: Book-Banning Superintendent of Republic, MO, School District Resigns

Categories: Books
Thumbnail image for Slaughterhouse-Five.jpg
Is Kurt Vonnegut the most dangerous thing facing high schoolers?
Vern Minor, the superintendent of the Republic School District, brought some unfriendly attention to his work last year when he banned Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five and Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer because they were too graphic, profane and crude for high schoolers (does Minor actually talk to high schoolers?). The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library fought back by offering free copies of Slaughterhouse-Five to any student in the district.

The Republic School Board apparently didn't find much to like in Minor's approach, as it voted 4 to 3 to not extend his contract. Two of his three supporters on the board have terms that expire this year, and are not running for reelection. On Monday, Minor tendered his resignation to the board; his last day on the job is June 29.

The banned books were eventually returned to the shelves, but kept in a secure part of the library where only parents could check them out on behalf of their children. That's convenient.

As for Minor's tenure, school board president Ken Knierim was quoted in the Springfield News-Leader as saying:
"I apologized for ever bringing him here. No one deserves that kind of treatment he has received...It's been a very tough year-and-a-half and Vern is moving on."
Yeah, Ken, that controversy really came out of the blue, didn't it? The guy decided to ban a revered novel that paints war as an insane and dehumanizing experience because a parent who home schools his kid filed a complaint, but the resulting outrage was undeserved.

I don't think Vern Minor is owed an apology for making small-minded decisions based on fear and "Bible concerns" and then having to reap the whirlwind. If you want to apologize to someone for Minor's tenure, apologize to the young adults in the Republic High School who were deemed too fragile and impressionable to read about war, despite many of them being old enough to go fight in one.

Or maybe just man up and say, "All this happened, more or less," and leave it at that. Of course, to make that reference, you'd first have to read a fucking book.

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3 comments
Loftie
Loftie

I couldn't agree any more than what's already been said. His comments to the school were "I just don't THINK it's a good book"––"I don't think it's consistent with these standards and the kind of message that we want to send,"–––So you're saying that war is hunky dory and that it should be romanticized to encourage more people to die out there while those promoting war aren't even sending their sons? Oh but that's not all. "If the book had ended on a different note, I might have thought differently." Right. Make Billy Pilgrim the average American hero and toss in a few dead German soldiers at his feet to nationalize what America is all about. But that's not all. "Slaughterhouse five, meanwhile contains "really, really, intense language and does not have any place in high school,"–––The only thing that's intense is his redundancy to emphasize "really". And this guy is a Superintendent? But I love Kurt's response: "You can ban my books from every damn district in the country––I'm still not going to write to send messages or make teens feel guilty because they've made choices that some people want to pretend don't exist. That's my choice. And I'll never be ashamed of my choice to write about real issues." Thank you, Kurt. 

Anglaw
Anglaw

Same district that just lost a lawsuit regarding their deplorable treatment of a 13 year old girl who was raped TWICE while at school. The first time she came forward she was expelled by this administion and forced to write a letter of apology to her attacker. The attacker confessed after the second time when she returned to school. This man should have been gone a long time ago. I am sadden that this incident received so little attemtion. To me this was the real news.

Send him to Iraq
Send him to Iraq

Couldn't agree more Paul...he's not owed an apology and deserved every bit of the public lashing he took if not more.  Of course he would ban a book that paints warfare as dehumanizing, he and the home-schooler need as many "sons of Missouri" for their christian crusade as they can get.  Ever heard of the "quiverfull" movement?  After all, so many have died or been injured in the last 11 years of war that they need replacement!

This nation has been in two wars for the last 11 years...longer than a decade.  An entire decade defined by the trauma of 9/11, dedicated to our reaction to it, and ignorance of the opportunities lost because of it.  And there are those, like Minor and the home-schooler I'm sure, that not only see this as the status quo but think there hasn't been enough blood spilled.  Of course they see Slaughter House Five as a threat...after all they're not the ones who are going to fight.

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