Earlier this month, Hemant reported that the largest school district in Idaho saw fit to ban Sherman Alexie‘s celebrated youth novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian on account of it being “obscene” and anti-Christian.
The second-best response to the whole affair came from Gretchen Caserotti, a librarian in Meridian, Idaho, who noted dryly that thanks to the unnecessary controversy, the book is now in high demand in local public libraries such as hers.
But for the best response, we turn to Mountain View High School junior Brady Kissel.
First, Brady, who is 17, collected 350 signatures on a protest petition. But she didn’t stop there. Last Thursday, she and three volunteers from Rediscovered Books, an independent bookstore in Meridian, lugged more than 300 donated copies of Alexie’s novel to a local park, where they gave one to all comers. Rediscovered Books also kept another three dozen copies behind the counter, free to students who couldn’t make it to the park.
That, friends, is how you do an end run around censors, meddlers, and religious busybodies.
There was just one ugly hiccup: in an apparent act of attempted intimidation, someone complained to the police about Brady’s team giving away the free books, and the cops dutifully put in an appearance.
After about an hour of Kissel passing out books to teenagers, Meridian police showed up. They said they had been called out by someone concerned about teenagers picking up a copy of the book without having a parent’s permission.
Of course, there was nothing the long arm of the law could legally pin on the book givers, so the officers soon skedaddled.
Brady’s actions appear to be the first that challenge such bans so openly and effectively. Undaunted by the cops’ visit and emboldened by the positive responses, she’ll be returning to the park this week with another 350 copies of the book, donated by Alexie’s publisher. Kudos to all.
P.S.: Three years ago, on the Wall Street Journal‘s website, Alexie wrote a gripping retort to his censors that includes this passage:
[A]ll during my childhood, would-be saviors tried to rescue my fellow tribal members. They wanted to rescue me. But, even then, I could only laugh at their platitudes. In those days, the cultural conservatives thought that KISS and Black Sabbath were going to impede my moral development. They wanted to protect me from sex when I had already been raped. They wanted to protect me from evil though a future serial killer had already abused me. They wanted me to profess my love for God without considering that I was the child and grandchild of men and women who’d been sexually and physically abused by generations of clergy.
In other words, Samaritans in sheep’s clothing had already inflicted actual suffering much worse than the make-believe damage they professed to want to save him from.
Read his full piece here.