May 7, 2015

God damn: Of Mice and Men & The Kite Runner face bans in Idaho and North Carolina


OfMiceAndMenParents can be so embarrassing! According to the Los Angeles Times, concerned moms and dads in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Asheville, North Carolina, are lobbying to have John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner banned from their respective high schools’ curricula.

Mary Jo Finney, a Coeur d’Alene parent, told the Spokesman Review that Steinbeck’s classic novel “is neither a quality story nor a page turner.” Ms. Finney further objects to the book’s liberal use of profanities like “God damn” and “bastard,” which, by her count, come in at 102 instances in the space of 110 pages. “There was just too darn much cussing,” School Board Trustee Dave Eubanks agreed. “We have a lot of families in our community, moms and dads, who are trying to raise their children with traditional family values and traditional religious values . . . I don’t think we should be undermining them,” he went on.

The use of “profanity” has also become a problem in Asheville, where The Kite Runner has been pulled from a high school curriculum. Parent Lisa Baldwin, who filed the complaint, told the Citizen-Times that she objected to the book’s language and its “adult themes.” “The description of the book the teacher included mentioned that there was a rape, but not that it was the rape of a child and it was the homosexual rape of a child, which I felt was something parents needed to know,” she said.

Both schools plan to come to a decision about the books within the next few weeks.

According to the American Library Association, there were 311 formal challenges reported to the Office for Intellectual Freedom last year, and 5,099 reported between 2000 and 2009:

  • 1,577 challenges due to “sexually explicit” material;
  • 1,291 challenges due to “offensive language”;
  • 989 challenges due to materials deemed “unsuited to age group”;
  • 619 challenged due to “violence”‘ and
  • 361 challenges due to “homosexuality”

Well. God damn.


Taylor Sperry is an editor at Melville House.