F451

Needing permission to a read a book about censorship … would make for great satire.

But when it happens in real life, it represents a rather sad commentary on our priorities.  

The Daily Show writer Daniel Radosh recently shared a permission slip from his son’s school on Twitter. His child, who is in 8th grade, needed parental approval to read Fahrenheit 451.

If you’ve read the book, you get why this is a head-slapper. If you haven’t … let’s just say a book on a dystopian future where books are censored and burned might not be something you should ask for parental permission to teach. Radosh had the perfect response, suggesting/hoping that the note was simply an “immersive way to teach [students] how insidious censorship can be.”

To be fair, the book was being read by the class as a follow-up assignment to Banned Books Week, and even Radosh admitted “It would be great if the permission slip really is intended the way I took it.” But while we can hope it was a sly commentary on the school’s part, Fahrenheit 451 has been under scrutiny for years for mild swearing and depictions of Bible burning.

Considering the Ray Bradbury classic touches on prescription-drug abuse, short attention spans, all-encompassing video screens (here called “parlor walls”) and a robotic hound that hunts down enemies of the state (think drones, 1953 style), we think the 63-year-old book should be required reading.

One Twitter follower of Radosh had a better idea about what to do with the school’s permission slip: