The beloved author, Mark Twain, had his famed book, Huckleberry Finn, on trial last week to determine if it was appropriate for students in high school. In the courtroom of Mrs. Rizzi’s tenth grade English class, the jury declared that it was inappropriate for all high school students, but the decision was not made easily. The decision followed a grueling trial with good arguments on both sides.
So why should anyone consider Huckleberry Finn an inappropriate novel? The prosecuting lawyers argued that the book had themes that were too advanced for high school students and if themes such as racism were not properly handled, students would walk away with the wrong impression.
Witnesses from college professors to mothers were asked to take the oath, "Do you promise to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you Huckleberry?" and give their reasons why the book should be banned or kept as a valued piece of high school literature. A tenth grader posing as a southern mother argued that she didn't want her daughter to be exposed to such strong themes at an early age and also said that not all teachers were qualified to handle this book with care to be able to teach it.
The defense argued that after a teacher reads the book him or herself and has a college education, they would be more than equipped to teach this book. They also pointed out the crude words that were used in the book to describe African Americans were only there to show the diction of the south, not to impress upon students. The theme of racism was the deciding factor in the trial. The defense claimed that students must learn from the past to avoid it repeating in the future.
The prosecuting theme retaliated by saying that the idea of racism should not be re-introduced to a new generation with fresh minds and that by forgetting it we would prevent it from repeating.
Good points on both sides where made throughout the trial, but in the end the prosecuting attorneys managed to punch some good holes in the argument. After taking a small breather, the jury reached a decision: the book should be banned from all high school student class curriculum (and any younger grades) so Huck Finn will have to wait until college, at least according to these tenth graders. Court adjourned.
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