The Memorial library of acclaimed author, Kurt Vonnegut is giving away 150 free copies of anti-war classic Slaughterhouse 5 to students at Republic High School in Missouri after their school board banned copies of it and Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler at the end of last month.
Vonnegut, who died in 2007, famously said “To hell with the censors! Give me knowledge or give me death” and it is in this spirit that the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library is encouraging students at the school to “decide for themselves” and drop them an email to receive a free book that were donated to the library by an anonymous donor.
In a note on their website entitled Stop the Madness, Julia Whitehead, the library’s executive director said
“We think it’s important for everyone to have their First Amendment rights. We’re not telling you to like the book … we just want you to read it and decide for yourself.”
In a further statement to the Huffington Post she added that it was
“shocking and unfortunate that those young adults and citizens would not be considered mature enough to handle the important topics raised by Kurt Vonnegut, a decorated war veteran.
“Everyone can learn something from his book,” she said. “All of these students will be eligible to vote, and some may be protecting our country through military service in the next year or two.”
The novel is a blistering satire of the Fire Bombings at Dresden during the Second World War in which Vonnegut served.
The campaign to see it banned was instigated by Wesley Scroggins, a local professor at Missouri State University who believed the book contained “so much profane language, it would make a sailor blush with shame” and contained ideas contrary to Biblical teachings.
Only time will tell whether the actions of the Memorial Library will be in vain or if this is set to become another Lady Chatterley’s Lover.