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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The UF Honors Program is celebrating novels like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and “Kite Runner” as part of Banned Books Week on campus.

The series of events, which began Sunday, recognizes the freedom of reading for the 30th anniversary of national Banned Books Week. They include a showing of “Easy A” and a speech by the president of the national Kurt Vonnegut Society.

Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” was the Honors Program common reading selection this past summer. UF Honors Program Director Kevin Knudson said a school district in Missouri banned the book last year after one parent wrote a letter of complaint.

“That got me thinking,” Knudson said. “Why would you ban a pretty inoffensive book? A typical episode of ‘Jersey Shore’ is much more offensive.”

Ben Swerdlown, a 19-year-old materials science engineering sophomore, said banned books often teach valuable lessons.

“They should look at the ratio between material that might require censorship versus literary merit,” he said.

Knudson said the reason there are complaints about controversial texts is a control issue. But he said banned books will always resurface.

“Life is four-letter words, sex and religion,” he said. “And if we don’t talk about these things as a culture, we can’t come to some resolution.”

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