Monday, 22 August 2011

Wesley Scroggins: So It Goes

You're probably thinking I've made up this bloke's name but no, he's an actual person. So, what's up with Mr Scroggins? Well, he's been giving Christians a bad name.
Actually, that's Dr Scroggins to you; he has a Phd from New Mexico State University and he's an Associate Professor in Management in the College of Business Administration at Missouri State University. He is a resident of a small town called Republic in Greene County, Missouri. As such, he raised a complaint last year with the School Board  of the Republic High School about three books which he considers contain material - language, storylines, characterisations - which is 'contrary to what The Bible teaches'. The School Board has duly considered the matter and have 'banned' two of the books: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. The ban means that these books won't be part of the curriculum at the school, nor will they be stocked in the school library. Students can of course still get the books elsewhere either from a public library or from Amazon, but if they have them in school or cite them as 'independent reading' then students must have a letter from their parents giving permission.
I haven't read Twenty Boy Summer, but by all accounts, it seems to be quite relevant for teenage Americans as it deals with peer pressure, relationships, loyalty, and the death of someone close. Sarah Ockler has responded publicly to point out how dumb this 'ban' is and the Vonnegut estate has responded by offering free copies of Slaughterhouse Five to students of Republic High School.
Slaughterhouse Five is one of the best books of the 20th century and is very moral indeed, highlighting the futility of war and pointing out that 'good guys' often do bad things. If Kurt Vonnegut were alive to hear of this 'ban', I expect he would be laughing his socks off. Especially as the Bible itself contains many tales of rape, slaughter, treachery, adultery and so forth - some of it sanctioned or initiated by the main protagonist himself: 'God'... However, it does not feature a race of aliens from Tralfamadore or a central character, an optometrist called Billy Pilgrim, who is lost in time. Or Kilgore Trout, more's the pity.
Scroggins is another of these American idiots who fail to grasp that under their much-vaunted constitution, church and state are separate. What the Bible, or any other holy book, teaches should not therefore be a consideration when it comes to determining the school curriculum. And when you think of the quantity and variety of different interpretations of exactly what it is that the Bible, or any other holy book, might teach, it's just as well.
I haven't been able to confirm this but, as I understand it, Scroggins does not actually have any children at the Republic High School. In which case it's none of his business anyway. Ho hum.

No comments:

Post a Comment