Parent Complaint Removes Book from Ringgold Middle Library
by David Carroll
RINGGOLD, GA - Ringgold Middle School's library includes one less book after a parent filed a complaint over "inappropriate content."
The book is The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon. Although critically acclaimed, the book's opening pages include several uses of the "F-word," a passage about a boy sliding his hand down a girl's sweater and pants, a crude slang reference to a girl's breasts, starting a fire in a school, a theft of school supplies, a girl's menstrual period, teen suicide attempts, and a boy setting himself on fire.
Quick question for the child-rearin', God fearin', folks of Ringgold, GA:
With the exception of the "F-word" (and maybe sweaters), doesn't the Bible make mention of everything else in your complaints list? Hell, the Old Testament alone has sex passages galore, breasts being referred to as pomegranates, an angelic arson in the cities of Sodom & Gomorrah, the theft of gold chalices, livestock and Joseph's coat of many colors, at least two mentions of menstruation, multiple references to both suicide and murder, and a guy who prepares a human-sized spit so's he can slow roast his son in a sacrifice to God.
Now, I know what you're gonna say:
But the Bible mentions all of these things to help educate its readers regarding right and wrong. Well, so does Runyon's The Burn Journals. Did you actually read the damned thing? Every complaint on your laundry list of 'offensive topics' is used in the book to illustrate the author's thoughts and actions before he matures, before he begins to think about how his actions affect others, before he becomes basically the sort of stand-up fella that you all want so desperately for your kids to become.
I urge you to take the time to (re-)read the book. While it's true that many parts are disturbing (it's about Runyon's failed attempt to kill himself, after all), none are romanticized or unnecessarily lurid. It's actually a beautiful and compassionate book. A book that doesn't talk down to kids, but to them, and in doing so, attempts to help them through the always tempestuous emotions accompanying adolescence.
This book was written to keep kids from hurting themselves and others. You'd think that parents would applaud such a thing.
Previously on our blog: Author du jour: Brent Runyon