Resistance Movement 1997

I walked into a 7:30 a.m. meeting today reading On Writing by Stephen King (Yes, I am still into this book). As previously noted, the only objection I have with King's book is its sprinkling of bad language through the book. While waiting for others to arrive at the meeting I was reminded of a high school story involving obscene language.

During my senior year our assigned novel was The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. The book was originally published for adults but is now often found on teen reading lists. The Catcher in the Rye is one of the most challenged books in the U.S. for its profanity and sexuality.

A few of my classmates and I rallied together to protest the reading and studying of The Catcher in the Rye. It was a brave move for students in their final year of high school. Unlike 11th grade being the pivotal year in the U.S., 12th grade is South Africa's most important year for student achievement. Results on the end-of-year nationalized exams largely influence college and career prospects.

We met with our school's administration. I remember administrators, teachers, parents, and students sitting in a large circle in the teacher's lounge as we discussed our concerns. I can't remember the exact outcome of this meeting. I do remember a decision being made along the way for the four or five of us to study Shades (Thankfully not Fifty Shades of Grey) by Marguerite Poland instead. During English class we were excused to study Shades in the hallway. A type of independent-study class.

Our boldest move during our "resistance movement" was an appearance on one of the city's radio stations. The DJ interviewed us about our stand against the liberal use of profanity and portrayal of sexuality. It was quite a moment for a few high schoolers.

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