Officials from Coeur D’Alene school district in Northern Idaho are taking a page out of an extremist’s guide to censorship and are pushing to get John Steinbeck’s famous work Of Mice and Men banned from the ninth-grade curriculum.
According to four members of Coeur D’Alene’s curriculum-review committee, Of Mice and Men — a story that follows two ranch hands and the hard times and ill-fate that befalls them while trying to find work during the Great Depression — is “too dark for ninth graders.”
It’s not only the negativity and gloomy tone of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men that has set the review committee’s teeth on edge, however, it’s also the language used in the book.
Mary Jo Finney, one of the committee members who opposes Of Mice and Men, says Steinbeck’s use of the words “bastard” and “God damn” is inappropriate for high school freshmen, and was appalled to learn that “the teachers actually had the audacity to have students read these profanities out loud in class.”
It is interesting to note that while Finney saw a problem with the words “bastard” and “God damn,” she makes no mention of Steinbeck’s use of the N-word in Of Mice and Men, and so presumably doesn’t consider it an inappropriate word for the teenagers in her school’s district. Finney, who apparently has quite a lot of time on her hands, also notes that throughout the 110 pages of Of Mice and Men, there are 102 profanities.
Dave Eubanks, another member of the Idaho school district’s curriculum committee and the School Board Trustee agrees with Finney.
“Nobody’s banning books or burning books, there was just too darn much cussing. It was on almost every single page of the novella. We have a lot of families in our community, moms and dad, who are trying to raise their children with traditional family values and traditional religious values. … I don’t think we should be undermining them.”
The Coeur D’Alene city librarian Bette Ammon is against banning Of Mice and Men, and says she is saddened by the whole situation, “It always disappoints me when a school tries to take something away like that.”
“I just think that any book that is considered a classic and potentially could be something that informs your life past schooling, it’s unfortunate if people don’t get a chance to read it.”
How do you feel about the potential banning of an American Classic like John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men? Should “curriculum review committees” even exist, or if they should exist, should they have the power to officially ban books like Of Mice and Men that have been a part of high school curriculum across America for decades?
[Image Credit: Book To The Future]