On Narrative-Fitting Summer Reading Lists & First Amendment Rights

Leaving the Conservatory (La Sortie du conservatoire)

  • Two books that include police brutality and racism as themes have drawn attention to a suburban Charleston, South Carolina high school.

The Hate U Give (HarperCollins, 2017) by Angie Thomas and All American Boys (Simon & Schuster, 2015) by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely are two out of four books that comprise a summer reading list for Wando High School students.

The Fraternal Order of Police has a problem with the list, and the police organization president, John Blackmon has called for The Hate U Give and All American Boys to be dropped.

In the guild’s open letter to the police group, executive director Mary Rasenberger writes, “This interference–which is clearly based on the content of the books in question–must stop.

It is a blatant violation of students’ first amendment rights and an improper attempt at censorship by law-enforcement officials.”

Find out why The Fraternal Order of Police is in fact free “to support or oppose just about anything they desire.”

Or why a “First Amendment infringement argument could be made by or on behalf of the students” in this case.

“Just one more thing” (© Columbo):

Why aren’t there any classics on the reading list?

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Image: Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Leaving the Conservatory (La Sortie du conservatoire), 1876–1877. Oil on canvas, Overall: 73 13/16 x 46 1/4 in. (187.5 x 117.5 cm). BF862. Public Domain.

 

 

 

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The most salutary thing about the school system

“The most salutary thing about the school system as we know it today is that it takes the Greek and Latin languages seriously for years on end. Students learn respect for grammar and the dictionary, for a language fixed by rules; a mistake is a mistake, and one need not be put out at every moment by the claim that caprices and misdemeanors of grammar and spelling, like the ones we find today, can be justified.

If only this respect for language were not floating in limbo—a purely theoretical burden, as it were, from which one is immediately released on returning to the mother tongue! But the teacher of Latin or Greek typically doesn’t bother with his native language; from the start, he treats it as a place to relax after the rigorous discipline of Latin and Greek.

The splendid practice of translating from one language into another, so beneficial in stimulating an artistic sense for one’s own language, is never applied with appropriate rigor and dignity to the undisciplined contemporary language where these qualities are needed most. And even these translation exercises are becoming less and less common: It is enough to understand the classical languages, one needn’t bother to speak them.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche