In 2007, author Sherman Alexie's book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. That's high praise indeed. Yet this semi-autobigraphical novel describing growing up on a Spokane Indian Reservation while attending an all-white secondary school, has ridden into some difficulty recently in Meridian, Idaho.
A few weeks ago, the school board voted 2-1 to ban the book because it contained sexually charged material and mocked the Christian religion. It's not particularly clear which was more offensive to the school board, the "steam" of the material or the "passion" of the Christ. But none the less, banned it became.
Literature might have been knocked to the mat, but it wasn't out for the count.
Following the ban, two Washington women held a crowd-sourced fundraiser to purchase copies of the book to distribute to the 350 students who had signed the petition protesting the board’s move. Working with a Boise bookstore, the women were able to purchase enough copies for all of the students with the publisher donating an additional 350 copies to be given away at a later date.
And give them away they did. It was in a public park this past weekend. Well, until a concerned citizen called the police. They came to see what was going on. It seems Junior Mountain View High school student Brady Kissel was distributing free copies of the novel to students who had signed a petition protesting the board’s recent decision.
Fortunately for the young people of Meridian Idaho, and the rather enlightened understanding of the police in that community, "peace" was kept and sanity restored.
The police spoke to student Brady Kissel and determined no harm was being done. The books were distributed. Literature triumphed over close-minded ignorance. And sanity returned to the sleepy community where education won out. Let's hear it for the police in Meridian Idaho.