According to the Biloxi Sun Herald, the community’s School District has pulled Harper Lee’s classic novel of racial bigotry and Coming Of Age in the depression era south “To Kill a Mockingbird” from the eighth-grade reading list because some of the language makes people “feel uncomfortable.” By “language” the school district means the period use of the “n-word” in casual conversation. The ghost of George Carlin was not available for comment on what has become the word no one should use or hear anywhere.

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ a classic of American literature

Harper Lee published her novel, centered on a trial about an African American man in the 1930s fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, who is falsely accused of raping a white woman. The story is told from the point of view of the daughter of the defense attorney in the case, Jean Louise Finch, nicknamed “Scout.” The novel is as much a coming of age story as it is a searing portrait of the culture of racial bigotry that was adhered to in the South at that time.

To Kill a Mockingbird” became a runaway best seller in 1960 when it was published. In 1962, the book was made into a movie, starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, the lawyer who mounts an ultimately futile effort to save his African American client from being unjustly convicted of a crime he never committed.

What really makes people uncomfortable about the book?

On one level, a novel about racial bias and rape ought to make people uncomfortable. After all, both are ugly things which we wish would not exist but nevertheless do. However, the issue seems to be Lee’s use of what is now, euphemistically called, the “n-word.” The word was commonly used in the 1930s and even in the 1960s when Harper Lee published her novel.

The term has become so toxic that it is making classics of literature such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Huckleberry Finn” problematic for school curriculums. The irony is that both books are anti-racism polemics. They are being banished from schools on the theory that the word in question should not only never be uttered but not even be seen or heard.

The Biloxi School District is being a bit coy about why it is pulling the novel, though it had not been removed from the schools’ libraries – at least for now. However, in its quest to make sure its students feel more “comfortable,” the school district is engaged in another societal ill that we wish did not exist, censorship.