Unclassified Info: The hard reality behind censorship

October 03, 2011|By Gary Huerta

I have three words for Glendale Unified School District officials and those parents who seek to ban Truman Capote’s masterpiece “In Cold Blood” from being added to the English curriculum.

Get. Over. It.

Yes, the novel depicts an almost unimaginable murder of an innocent Kansas farmer and his family by two hardened criminals. But it also seeks to delve into the minds of the perpetrators in order to define what motivates such horrific behavior. And ultimately, it shows the consequences of such criminal behavior.

If we are going to measure violence, perhaps we should include fictional works like the Harry Potter anthology. If I’m not mistaken, over the course of several books, there are a multitude of killings and violent confrontations, mostly intended to entertain.


Death by witchcraft does not come close to being as thought-provoking as the murders described by Capote in one of the most important pieces of American writing in the 20th century.

If we were to use descriptions of violent behavior as a standard to measure the appropriateness of literature, I’d say J.K. Rowling’s depictions of murder are far more gratuitous, thus making the act of violence seem meaningless, and the lives lost appear disposable. This depiction is much more disturbing, for when we make murder seem entertaining and inconsequential, we become desensitized to the act itself.

I wonder how many of the people protesting Capote’s work banned their kids from lining up to watch the final installment of the Harry Potter series? I recall one battle in particular seemed to depict hundreds of students dying in a number of violent and gruesome ways.

I think we tread in dangerous water if we hold to a belief that thousands of people randomly killed in a work of fantasy is somehow acceptable for public consumption, while the in-depth evaluation of a real-life murder needs to be shunned.

And let’s bear in mind the book was requested for an advanced placement, 11th-grade class, where it is assumed college-level thinking and analysis is being nurtured. While I can’t prove it, I’m willing to bet many of these students have read one or two of the Rowling’s books. Maybe a dose of non-fiction will help them see the hard reality behind murder.

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