By ANDRES ARENAS GRAYEB
The Biloxi School District of Mississippi has chosen to remove the controversial “To Kill a Mockingbird” novel from the eighth grade curriculum. The move was done after the county received complaints about the book’s language being uncomfortable and inappropriate for a classroom setting.
In response, several acclaimed writers and literature enthusiasts took to Twitter to express their disdain. They upheld that the book’s primary purpose was to make the reader uncomfortable: only then would the book’s setting and culture (1930s in the deep south of the United States) be significant and impactful. Quotes supporting this idea include:
“If to Kill a Mockingbird makes you uncomfortable you may want to contemplate your life & search your soul.” (@marybschneider)
“If To Kill a Mockingbird makes you uncomfortable, you are the target audience” (@WIBC_StanLehr)
“If we are going to solve the racial problems we have in our county now, we have to confront the truth of how we got to where we are.” (Barbara Shoup, novelist)
USA Today did well to cover both the event and the outcry over it on Twitter. Its coverage provided details of the event and the book’s controversial history, for those unaware that the book had been banned before. They also gave a basic synopsis of the book and why it was unsettling to some, which was a good transition to the public response to this kind of reaction.
The Twitter outcry provided good insight as to why many believe the book is important and should be taught in schools, so including a variety of tweets in the story was wise of the USA Today writer (Shari Rudavsky). It gave readers a decent understanding of the other side of the debate, providing them with plenty of room to form their own opinion on the complicated matter.