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The Censors' Methods
Letter from Robert Cormier to Debbie 25 February 1983
This letter by Robert Cormier is a reflection on censors and the effects of censorship. At the letter’s end, Cormier asks the addressee, Debbie, to greet her mother for him. Cormier also references Debbie’s March 2nd “deadline”. I infer that Debbie might be a student — perhaps in college — writing a paper about censoring. Cormier appears to have responded to her questions about “data” presumably sent to him in her original letter to him – which we have not been able to locate in the archive. Sidestepping the data question, Cormier elected to speak from his own experiences and said that it was always adults, never students, who initiated banning efforts. He brought up Studs Terkel’s take on the 1983 censors as those who “read words, not meanings.” Cormier laments the expandingly corrosive and restrictive effect that efforts to ban can have on a book like The Chocolate War, even if a school board voted to, ultimately, keep it in.
Mychelle Smith's dissertation considers the value of studying the use of profanity in schools rather than banning it. http://oaktrust.library.tamu.edu/handle/1969.1/155470