The question of teaching of Truman Capote's “In Cold Blood” in Holly Ciotti's Advanced Placement English class (“'In Cold Blood' too bloody for students?” Sept. 25) strikes me as a great teaching moment for the whole community.
I certainly sympathize with the concerns of PTA and school board members who have been disturbed by the book's graphic description of a Kansas family's killing, and their worry that it may be too much for teenage students, especially in a culture saturated with gratuitous depictions of violence. Thank you for taking violence seriously.
I do think that barring this book misses the real problem, however.
The problem is that for all the entertainment-as-violence on television, in movies, in video games and even on the news, the killing of human beings is rarely taken seriously in our culture. To be taken seriously it must be shown as it is — with a recognizable (not monster) human face and with permanent human consequences, not just as score for a bad guy or action hero who then moves on to the next, or as an excuse to provoke general fear or anger.