December 19, 2014

Virginia: Fairfax County Parent Wants Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved’ Banned From School System

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Fairfax County, VA is located in Northern Virginia across the Potomac from Washington, DC.

About three hours after The Washington Post published this article online it has close to 800 comments.

From The Washington Post:

The book Laura Murphy wants removed from Fairfax County classrooms is considered a modern American classic. It is a Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller and a masterpiece of fiction, whose author’s 1993 Nobel Prize in literature citation said she, “in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.”

But Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” Murphy said, depicts scenes of bestiality, gang rape and an infant’s gruesome murder, content she believes could be too intense for teenage readers.

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Murphy, who has challenged “Beloved” and has asked the county school system to ban it, is awaiting a ruling from the school board this week after a six-month appeals process, during which members of the school board have been reading the novel to assess it. She argues that the book’s critical acclaim should not grant it blanket acceptance in school classrooms.

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Barbara Jones, the director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, said challenges of “Beloved” are often rooted in the book’s raw portrayal of slavery.

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The number of book challenges across the country has significantly declined in recent years, from about 750 reported book challenges in the mid-1990s to about 325 challenges in 2011, according to Angela Maycock, assistant director of the association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. She said many cases probably go unreported.

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.