Phillip Thompson

Crime Fiction writer

You know, it’s 2011. And we’re still banning literature in this country. The current culprit is a high school in Palm Desert, Calif. I used to live in that area, it’s not exactly known as a hotbed of American conservatism. But, lo and behold, the local administration took exception to the high school’s intent to put on … wait for it … “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Read the entire story here.

That’s right. Tennessee Williams. And only one of the best American plays ever written. Why, you may ask? For “references to sex, homosexuality, alcohol and mild curse words.” One of the “mild curse words” that offended (or raised his concern, depending on how you read the piece) the principal was “crap.”

I understand community standards, public taste and all that (hey, I didn’t get a “C” in First Amendment Law for nothing), but really? I don’t know why it is, but administrators always seem to be “shocked” by literature that has been around for decades (or even centuries). Catcher in the Rye was controversial when it was released. I even read it in high school as an assignment. But it wasn’t reported to be “banned” in some schools until years later. Hemingway’s Across the River and Into the Trees (along with several others) was declared “obscene” (how, I don’t know. I read it twice).

I could understand if the play in question was, say, “Hair.” But “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?” Please.

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