Daily Show writer Daniel Radosh's son came home from school with a permission slip that he'd have to sign before the kid could read Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451, which is widely believed to be an anti-censorship book (Bradbury himself insisted that this was wrong, and that the book was actually about the evils of television).
Fahrenheit 451 has been the frequent subject of parental challenges on the flimsiest of grounds, as when fundamentalist Christian Alton Verne, of Conroe, Texas, demanded to have the book removed from the curriculum because the characters occasionally blaspheme and say "damn" ("If they can't find a book that uses clean words, they shouldn't have a book at all").
Radosh responded to the permission slip -- which mentioned these parental challenges -- with a wry note congratulating the teacher for using permission slips to convey the awfulness of heavy-handed attempts to control peoples' access to information.
I love this letter! What a wonderful way to introduce students to the theme of Fahrenheit 451 that books are so dangerous that the institutions of society -- schools and parents -- might be willing to team up against children to prevent them from reading one. It's easy enough to read the book and say, 'This is crazy. It could never really happen,' but pretending to present students at the start with what seems like a totally reasonable 'first step' is a really immersive way to teach them how insidious censorship can be I'm sure that when the book club is over and the students realize the true intent of this letter they'll be shocked at how many of them accepted it as an actual permission slip. In addition, Milo's concern that allowing me to add this note will make him stand out as a troublemaker really brings home why most of the characters find it easier to accept the world they live in rather than challenge it. I assured him that his teacher would have his back.
tfw your kid's school makes you sign a permission slip so he can read Fahrenheit 451 📚 🔥 pic.twitter.com/t9lmD8vKTu
— Daniel Radosh (@danielradosh) October 24, 2016
[Jay Hathaway/Daily Dot]