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.
tfw your kid's school makes you sign a permission slip so he can read Fahrenheit 45 pic.twitter.com/t9lmD8vKTu— Daniel Radosh (@danielradosh) October 24, 2016
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:
@danielradosh you should have burned it— natebuckwell (@natebuckwell) October 24, 2016