I apologize in advance for the reading required to enjoy this post, but it’s worth it..
In October of 1973, Bruce Severy — a 26-year-old English teacher at Drake High School, North Dakota — decided to use Kurt Vonnegut‘s novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, as a teaching aid in his classroom. The next month, the head of the school board, Charles McCarthy, demanded that all 32 copies be burned in the school’s furnace as a result of its “obscene language.” Other books soon met with the same fate.
For those of you unfamiliar with Slaughterhouse-Five, it is a satirical novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier called Billy Pilgrim. Ranked the 18th greatest English novel of the 20th century by Modern Library, it is generally recognized as Vonnegut’s most influential and popular work.
On the 16th of November, Kurt Vonnegut sent McCarthy the following letter. He didn’t receive a reply.