The nine-member appeals committee, meeting this morning at Matanzas High School, will recommend a fate for “To Kill a Mockingbird”–whether FPC’s students will stage it or not, and how. It’s up to Superintedent Valentine to make the final decision.
Jack Cowardin, the St. Augustine novelist, has been corresponding with Harper Lee for years. His take on the controversy over the staging of the play by FPC’s Drama Club: Let it go on unmolested by political correctness.
“We urge you to encourage student creativity and civic engagement, and to teach students the skills to discuss opposing views respectfully,” the NCAC writes. “We urge you to allow the students to perform the play.”
The strongly-worded letter from a coalition representing 50 organizations of actors, writers, educators and clerics calls on Superintendent Valentine to enrich the conversation on race and culture, not restrict it.
Interviews with appeals committee members reveal a divide between instinctive revulsion of censorship and hesitancy over second-guessing a principal’s decision even as the facts of the case continue to be muddled by unspecified generalities.
In a column on the Mockingbird controversy at FPC, Rabbi Merill Shapiro argues that whatever the merits of administrative issues, “the profanity of censorship,” in the end, “has no place in our community.”
In 2002, Harper Lee addressed Flagler County proudly when her book was the centerpiece of county-wide events. The school district’s censoring of the play this month contrasts sharply with that progressive history.
Students and faculty had no issues with the production’s use of the word “nigger,” as in the book and the movie. A Palm Coast city councilman and other unnamed “community members” did, leading FPC Principal and Superintendent Janet Valentine to censor the play.
It’s Banned Books Week; before ABC liquor, there was green; the Jimmy Carter diaries; let’s not forget Mark Rothko’s birthday, nor a limerick from Dallas the day.
An exception among metro newspapers, the News-Journal silenced all online comments under the guise of maintaining standards.