Kids: Count the really creepy things wrong with this picture! . . .
At Anderson County High School in Clinton, Tennessee, a large group of parents are complaining over the inclusion of The Color Purple on a summer reading list after it was added “to coincide with a lesson planned about molestation that was prompted by student interest in the Michael Jackson trial.” According to a Knoxville News report by Bob Fowler, “An Honors English class teacher at Anderson County High School recommended Toni Morrison‘s novel as summer reading for students entering ninth grade next month,” but “about a third of the students’ parents” have complained about “graphic passages dealing with rape and incest in the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.” Fowler says Richard Adams‘ novel about rabbits, Watership Down, was offered as an alternative choice at a board of education meeting, but parents at the meeting complained that students who selected the alternative would still have to be in the room when Color Purple was discussed. But Board of Education chairman Dr. John Burrell said, “We got into censoring books before, and it’s a keg of worms we don’t want to open up.” Meanwhile, neither the educators cited in the article nor the reporter seem aware that The Color Purple was written by Alice Walker, not Toni Morrison.
Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.