The classic books The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee have been banned by a Virginia school district after a parent complained that her teenage son was traumatized by racial slurs used in the books.
According to WAVY, the parent, whose highschool-age son is bi-racial, told school administrators that the use of racial slurs was "excessive" and that her son, who was reading Huckleberry Finn for a high school assignment, couldn't get past a certain page in that story on which the N-word appeared seven times. The N-word appears 219 times in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and 48 times in To Kill a Mockingbird.
The parent also suggested that teenagers aren't mature enough to see the historical and literary value of either of the works.
"I keep hearing, 'This is a classic, This is a classic,' ... I understand this is a literature classic. But at some point, I feel that children will not - or do not - truly get the classic part - the literature part, which I'm not disputing," she told a school board meeting in November. "This is great literature. But there are racial slurs in there and offensive wording that you can't get past that...Right now, we are a nation divided as it is."
The parent went on to propose that a multi-cultural committee of teachers, administrators, librarians and caregivers be convened, in order to compile a list of "inclusive" works suitable for the classroom.
"So what are we teaching our children?" she asked. "We're validating that these words are acceptable, and they are not acceptable by (any) means...There is other literature they can use."
According to the Daily Mail, following the complaint, the school board temporarily pulled both books pending a meeting where they will fully review the materials, decide whether they should be permanently banned, and make a corresponding recommendation to the school superintendent.
The decision didn't sit well with everyone, however. One parent, Teresa Wilkins, said: "It's in a book and they'll feel they are able to say that to anybody, and so I don't feel that that should be done."
David Simon, award winning journalist, author, and creator of The Wire tweeted: "We are going backwards," after hearing about the controversy.
Heat Street notes that hundreds of books are challenged every year in school districts across the country: Harry Potter, the Bible, Of Mice and Men, The Catcher in the Rye, Fifty Shades of Grey, and even Fahrenheit 451, a book about banning books, have all earned a spot at the top of "Banned Book" lists.