“Bless Me, Ultima” may gain an even wider audience after last night’s special meeting by the Newman-Crows Landing School Board. I’ve been following this story with interest because it is relatively close (unfortunately more than an hour drive or I would have gone to the meeting) and the issue is one that touches us all: book bannings. So I’ve had to rely on the local press down there as well as TV reports and some input from folks who attended the meeting.
Let me state that I understand the right of communities to draw the line and define who they are within reason. I do not agree with the rights of many being purged a complaint by one or two. Especially if there are alternatives – and in this case there were.
Apparently this entire process began with one parent’s complaint. Supporters of the book, including English teachers at Orestima High School who teach using the book, were the majority in the crowd at the meeting (according to media reporters) and only one person spoke out against the book.
This past weekend I stepped out of my role as a journalist and sent an email to Dr. Richard Fauss, superintendent of the Newman-Crows Landing School District, in support of the book and explaining why I thought it should not be banned. Dr. Fauss replied, but has asked that his response not go in the blog. I honestly wish he would allow this because even though I may disagree with him, we need to hear from all sides without deriding them. Some of his comments were eye-openers and well worth considering.