“ To Kill a Mockingbird,” Harper Lee’s acclaimed novel about a black man falsely accused of a crime in a small Southern town, also is about a great many other things, including what can go wrong when people don’t think clearly about the wider good and follow petty prejudices instead.
What’s happened to Lee’s book in Plaquemines Parish seems a tragic example of the kind of ignorance that Lee’s novel seeks to deplore.
According to news reports, the Plaquemines Parish School Board recently began enforcing its 2001 ban of the novel, a restriction originally put in place because of concerns about offensive language and adult themes in the story. The ban had been largely unenforced in recent years, but a discovery that some teachers were using the book in class put the censors back on alert.
The Louisiana office of the American Civil Liberties Union has lodged a protest, and we hope the ACLU’s complaint prompts the School Board to lift its ban.
Lee’s story does tackle some sensitive subjects, but it does so with consummate grace.
Beyond the book’s moral lessons, it’s also a wonderful case study in the virtues of good prose.
The book’s hero, lawyer Atticus Finch, is noble precisely because he has an open mind. That’s an example for the Plaquemines Parish School Board should follow, not suppress.