Ralph Ellison's 1952 novel, Invisible Man, has been banned from the shelves of school libraries across Randolph County. Parents everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that their precious little snowflakes remain unmolested by "hard" reading.
By a 5-2 margin, the Randolph County Board of Education voted Monday night, at its regular meeting held at Eastern Randolph High School, to remove all copies of the book from school libraries.
Voting in favor of the ban were Board Chair Tommy McDonald and members Tracy Boyles, Gary Cook, Matthew Lambeth and Gary Mason. Voting against the action were Board Vice Chair Emily Coltrane and member Todd Cutler who both first introduced a motion to keep the book in the schools. This first motion was defeated by a 2-5 vote.
The board action was prompted by a complaint about the book from Kimiyutta Parson, mother of an RHS 11th-grader. She submitted a request for reconsideration of instructional media form, which detailed, in a 12-page supplemental document, her reasons for the book’s removal.
These five board members - McDonald, Boyles, Cook, Lambeth, and Mason - have done a great service to our community, and to the memory of Ralph Ellison.
Like many, I had never heard of Ellison or his book. In banning this book from our public school libraries, McDonald, Boyles, Cook, Lambeth, and Mason have helped to enrich the lives of those of us who prefer to expose ourselves and our children to the widest variety of ideas and opinions possible, in order to more fully experience the world in which we live.
I and many others will be adding this book to our reading lists. Thanks for the tip!
You see, in a free society in which information flows as freely as it does in ours, banning books doesn't keep anyone from reading them if they so choose. If banning books does anything it lends the prohibited title a certain 'forbidden fruit' mystique.
Being a banned book, or the author of one is something of a badge of honor. Invisible Man now takes its rightful place beside other great banned books, including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Handmaid's Tale, Of Mice and Men, and The Color Purple.
Like me, I'm certain that many of my neighbors will now seek out a copy of this text we'd never heard of (I got mine here) and devour it over the next few days.
This suppression of ideas that a few find objectionable is a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, which guarantees us all the right to free speech, and by extension, the freedom to read.
Anytime censorship is applied to what our children can read, with or without parental approval, even for what may appear to be the noblest of motives, we teach them a far more harmful lesson than any work of literature ever could.
We teach them that the few can disrupt the rights of the many if they complain loudly and often enough. To this injustice we add the lesson that we don't believe our children are capable of learning to think for themselves, to make well considered decisions about the complex issues of life.
Worst of all, we teach them that conformity and blind faith are worth more than curiosity, skepticism, and intellectual integrity, which brings us to perhaps the most important service that school board members McDonald, Boyles, Cook, Lambeth, and Mason have done our community. We now know who and what they are; small-minded, semi-literate, under-educated people unfit to bear such an important responsibility.
We now know in no uncertain terms which board members value true learning and which ones merely talk a good game. We also now know which two members - Emily Coltrane and Todd Cutler - may still be worthy of our support in the future.
One comment at the Courier-Tribune's website may have said it best, "First, Invisible Man is NOT "a hard read." Any ninth-grader who reads English at grade level could understand the book. If board members Tommy McDonald and Gary Mason are that functionally illiterate, I suggest both men enroll themselves in remedial reading comprehension classes at Randolph Community College, pronto. They sure have no business serving on a county board of education. Second, Kimiyutta Parson should be ashamed of herself for publicly displaying such ignorance to her children and other Randolph County students. Invisible Man is neither filthy nor biased against religion... and if these so-called adults had done their homework about Ellison or Invisible Man [they] wouldn't be spouting such base nonsense."
Randolph County Board of Education members Tommy McDonald, Tracy Boyles, Gary Cook, Matthew Lambeth, and Gary Mason are unfit for the offices they now hold. We owe it to our children to vote them out at the next opportunity.