Whenever the "banner" of Banned Books raises its ugly head again,waving out ignorance and illiteracy, Underdog Rob will be near. In an area high school, the fools in charge are now trying to ban Pat Conroy's books. Here is my letter to the editor in response to a letter published in the Charleston Gazette two days ago. I was much pleased that our largest newspaper made it front
page news. Conroy said among other things: "Here is my favorite thing: because you banned my books, every kid in your county will want to read them."
Subject: Pat Conroy Letter/local author's take
Hello Mr. White --
I read the front page story on Pat Conroy's response to the bruhaha at Nitro High School over Prince of Tides and other of Conroy's work. First, I commend the Gazette leadership for
placing the story on page one. Many another newspaper would have buried this importantt story and issue--book banning.
let me thank you for making the story a prominent one. More and more freedoms gained by blood in battlefields throughout US history are being eroded away, and with each book banned by the closed-minded who cannot see beyond a four letter word or a scene of violence to the depth of meaning in Pat Conroy and other fine authors who make of a pantheon of American and British and actually world-wide genius in letters are a testament to the poverty in Education today. The schools in Chicago in the 50s and 60s I thought were like prisons that placed chains on the minds of young people, but those schools seem today like country clubs. The level of intelligence of those running our schools is staggering. Most no clue as to what the grace of fiction is all about, and I daresay most seldom to never understood their English teachers nor understand why the word English is always capitalized.
I have myself written, edited, and published over forty novels of suspense, mystery, and much mayhem, and am in fact working on my forty-six such work. I can't understand how people in a position to hire professionals in the field of English instruction can't themselves see that every classic from Moby Dick to Heart of Darkness is about violence and the attachment of violence to the human condition--that we are not angels, that the world is populated with as much evil as it can bear, and that young people need, as Ernest Hemmingway cautioned, "a built-in bullshit detector."
Finally, I wish to commend not only young McKenzie Hatfield at Nitro High but all of her classmates as well who've stood up in an attempt to be heard, as they've done so admirably and for the right reasons. Imagine it, even Mark Twain is on the banned list. Imagine a young person denited the joys of reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This is the reason such organizations as the American Library Association is against banning any book. It is a slippery slope. Ban one book, ban them all, and pretty soon you have what Ray Bradbury says will happen. He said, if I may paraphrase: "You don't have to burn books to get people to stop reading them. You just have to get people to stop caring to read."
In other words, create a nation of illiterates and you can easily understand the rise of a Hitler or a stolen election.
Robert W. Walker
Writer, speaker, teacher
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