So it Goes: Kurt Vonnegut’s Classic SF novel ‘Slaughterhouse Five’ Banned from Missouri Public High School Library Shelves


A Missouri public school board voted four to zero to remove two books out of a proposed three from the library of Republic High School Monday. One of them was Kurt Vonnegut’s science fiction novel Slaughterhouse Five. Four members were absent for the late evening vote.

The 1969 novel uses a plot involving time travel and space aliens to communicate a powerful anti-war message Slaughterhouse Five and is part of the curriculum of many schools across the United States. Publisher Del Rey even offers a teacher’s guide for the book.

The book, along with Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, were pulled from the shelves after being challenged by local resident Wesley Scroggins, who argued that they, along with a proposed third – Laura Hale Anderson’s Speak , an award-winning novel about date rape – contradicted Biblical principles. Superintendent Vern Minor stated in an article for the News-Leader that ultimately the books were pulled because they were considered age-inappropriate.

According to the American Library Association, this is not the first time the book has been banned or challenged. In 1973 the book was burned in Drake, North Dakota.

I do not wish to wade into an argument on Biblical principles and their application in a free society, Instead opting for Vonnegut himself to speak for me:

“All these people talk so eloquently about getting back to good old-fashioned values. Well, as an old poop I can remember back to when we had those old-fashioned values, and I say let’s get back to the good old-fashioned First Amendment of the good old-fashioned Constitution of the United States — and to hell with the censors! Give me knowledge or give me death!”

Well said, Mr. Vonnegut. Well said.