Letter: Obscene book, lazy writer
Sarah Palermo’s argument that the book Nineteen Minutes is not pornography (Monitor, May 14) is a deliberate quibble about the word choice of opponents to the text, which misses the larger argument of the parents in Gilford.
No, perhaps the scene is not pornographic (defined as material designed to stimulate sexual excitement), but it definitely qualifies as obscene (offensive to accepted standards of decency). More to the point, however, and much more relevant is the question of whether this should be assigned reading in school.
As parents, we expect that our children are taught in school about literary works selected for the quality of the writing. If we want our children to be literate members of society, we expect that they will be studying the best works of literature possible.
Although some of these books may have difficult content, texts should not be chosen for their social or political message but for their literary value. Using obscene, sensationalist language is not a mark of a skilled writer, but rather a sloppy and lazy one.
If I want my children to learn about date rape at school (which is debatable), I certainly don’t expect that it would be part of their literature class or be presented through a graphic and fictionalized account. Choosing reading material because the content has been determined by the teachers or administrators to be part of a larger social agenda is an unfortunate trend in our schools at all grade levels.
And I am afraid that the Monitor’s prurient interest in sexual crimes and news stories, as exemplified by this Forum article, is perhaps, like Jodi Picoult’s book, an attempt to use sensationalism as a way of attracting readers.
MELISSA GEISLER TRAFTON