Monday, May 22, 2006


Pinney lives in Arlington Heights, Ill., and she's a member of the school board there. She's also quite clearly a tremendous pain in the anus. The Chicago Sun-Times explains why:
A northwest suburban high school board member seeks to ban seven books from classroom use because she thinks the profanity, depiction of graphic sex, and drug and abortion references in the literature are inappropriate for teenagers.

Leslie Pinney admits she only read passages of the controversial selections, including Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five and Toni Morrison's Beloved, which were on the American Library Association's 100 most challenged books list between 1990 and 2000.

But Pinney said perusing the questionable parts of the books made it clear they weren't suitable for children and should be taken off Township High School District 214's proposed required reading list next year.

Pinney was particularly offended by the explicit tales of masturbation and teen sex in Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The popular novel, often described as a modern-day Catcher in the Rye, was among the ALA's top 10 most challenged books two years ago. ...

Other books Pinney wants replaced are The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien; The Awakening by Kate Chopin; Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, and Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World.
Pinney tried to tell the newspaper that she's in it for the kids -- aren't they all? -- but she comes across as a typical busybody:
"[W]hat are we feeding the minds of our students? They're getting a steady diet of foul language, violence and sexuality outside the classroom by the media. But when it comes to the classroom, isn't there something of a higher level to feed the minds of our children?"
In Pinney's world, no one has sex or takes drugs or uses profanity. They probably don't even have bathrooms, much less use them.


Anonymous said...

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World-she obviously didn't get past the title on that one.

The New York Times just named Toni Morrison's Beloved as the single most important work of fiction in the past 25 years.

Sounds like Miss Leslie has her bloomers in a twist. Shades of our own - Miss Sinthia of O'Fallon, MO

Anonymous said...

This woman is on a self-rightious, ultra-religious, neoconservative tear!

This is a moot point, because the district has an opt out policy for parents who don't want their kids reading certain books. This woman is clearly single minded, and wants everyone to conform to HER opinions because in her mind...she's the only one who is right.

I read Slaughterhouse-Five my senior year in high school (some 12 years age). It's a GREAT BOOK, that is really about one man's coping with the loss of his wife, and memories of the Bombing of Dresden when he was a young WWII soldier! I also read Beloved...that too is a great book, and if you get passed the "pornographic" (whatever)parts, it actually deals with the issue of treatment of former slaves and how they dealt with it in post Civil-War America. This narrow minded woman wouldn't know that though, because she didn't read the books except for the passages with the "pornographic" parts in them. What does that say about her...she needs a life!

Anonymous said...

Email Leslie Pinney and tell her what you think at

She is an elected official, so she should hear what people think.

Anonymous said...

I'm also watching Leslie Pinney. I'd suggest that everyone, regardless of where they live, regardless of whether or not they have kids in school, email every board member, email Leslie herself, and keep the issue in the press from a positive point of view. Be nice. Insistent, but nice. :)

Anonymous said...

The school board voted 6-1 (Guess Who the hold out was) in favor of KEEPING the books!

Score 1 for open minded people
0 for closed minded, overzealous religious whack jobs.

Anonymous said...

Readers, an endorsement from an association or a leading newspaper does not automatically make a book exceptional literature. Much like Ms. Pinney herself and her critics-an endorsement or disagreement of- is nothing more than an opinion. Consequently, opinions should be given consideration as one of other possible viewpoints. People generally want society to have the best welfare and interest of its children and any person who expresses a sincere effort to help offer literature that is of character, integrity and of noble purpose for children should be commended. When dealing with children; boundries and censorship must be included in every child's education, think of the consequences if children were taught without boundries, would all literature from Hustler magazine be acceptable? I applaud any person who takes effort at making certain appropraite material is provided to children. Leslie is not asking these questionable books be banned from society only that "less contriversial" material be put in children's classroom. Once children ( yes 14-18 year olds are children) become adults they are more likely able to appropriately reflect upon on how to engage in this reading material being questioned. I applaud Ms. Pinney for making the effort to raise the bar!

Anonymous said...

Hey Folks - Your ignorance is showing. Maybe before posting any additional remarks about what happened in District 214, you could try going to and READING what LP's concerns/objectives were/are? READ the excerpts and LEARN what parents/students had to say about the so-called opt-out program ("solitary confinement", "in shambles", etc. - with the exception of Hersey, whose program is reportedly okay). There's no justification for REQUIRING students to read about/discuss graphic depiction of masturbation with objects, male homosexual rape, oral sex, drunken sex with a dog, constant profanity, etc.

Education is supposed to inspire a student to greater things - to what is true, right, pure, excellent, noble, admirable, worthy of praise, lovely, just. Surely there are greater works of literature from which children can learn. Godspeed Leslie!

Anonymous said...

To the American Taliban posting here: You can "applaud" Leslie Pinney all you want but she's still a dangerous person. Anyone who wants to censor literature -- WITHOUT READING IT -- is no better than Goebbels. She'd be right at home in the mountains of Afghanistan, or in late 1930s Germany. Heil Pinney.