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Rapid City School Board to Destroy Books; Dave Eggers Offers to Send Seniors Copies of His Targeted Novel for Free

The Rapid City school board wants to destroy—not simply surplus, sell, or give away, but destroy—copies of five modern books it deems objectionable.

“The Circle” [by Dave Eggers] was deemed to be inappropriate by RCAS school administrators. Thirty copies of “The Circle” — along with 185 copies of “How Beautiful We Were: A Novel” by Imbolo Mbue, 35 copies of “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” by Alison Bechdel, 75 copies of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky and 30 copies of “Girl, Woman, Other: A Novel” by Bernardine Evaristo — were pulled from 12th grade English classes [Nathan Thompson, “Author Offers to Buy ‘To Be Destroyed’ Books for RCAS High School Seniors,” Rapid City Journal, 2022.05.04].

Reader’s Digest lists The Perks of Being a Wildflower as one of the 50 best books for teens.

Rather than leap at the chance to turn the books to cash, as they do with other surplus items, the Rapid City school board wants to look for a legal excuse to decline the offer and stoke the flames of their book-destroying passion:

Multiple volumes of the five books at issue are on a list of surplus property that includes broken office furniture, outdated printers, and a cart without wheels. Only the books are to be destroyed. The other items are to be sold or recycled.

…One of the speakers [Mary Haan] offered to buy the books, more than 350 volumes, for $200. The board discussed accepting her offer, but President Kate Thomas said they needed to first consult an attorney to see if they could legally distribute possibly pornographic materials [Victoria Wicks, “Rapid City Parents, Teachers Speak Out About Destroying Books,” SDPB, 2022.05.04].

Even if the fascists destroy the books they don’t like, targeted author Dave Eggers is willing to send new copies straight to the students:

Dave Eggers, author of “The Circle,” said beginning Thursday, Rapid City high school seniors can receive any of the titles at no cost to them by emailing Amanda Uhle via amanda@daveeggers.net. Eggers said the books will be shipped to students from independent bookstores.

…“The mass destruction of books by school boards is an unconscionable horror, and the freethinking young people of South Dakota shouldn’t be subjected to it,” Eggers said. “Every high school student should have unfettered access to literature, so if you’re a Rapid City high school senior, email our office and ask for any of these titles. For every copy the school board destroys, let’s add a new one to the local circulation” [link added; Thompson, 2022.05.04].

The best response to book burners is more books. Seniors, order your copies today, and carry them with you at graduation. When the school board president gets up to speak, open those books up and read.

16 Comments

  1. Nick Nemec 2022-05-05

    The thought that the school might be distributing pornographic material is laughable on its face. The books are easily purchasable by any person from a variety of businesses, as proven by the fact that schools around the country purchase them and include them in their curriculum.

  2. All Mammal 2022-05-05

    Better stop teaching anatomy. The text book might show an anterior outline of wiener. Invalidate adolescent crises students might be experiencing. Pretend incest doesn’t happen. Sacrifice the youth into the pyre.
    No respect for the right to think. I suspect the book burning freaks feigning decency are the ones we need to turn the attention on. Pyromania is a sign of sexual deviance. Hmmm.
    Adults who disregard the code of kids make things weird just by their forced involvement into their culture. Keep these sanctimonious school board vigilantes away from our young people.

  3. jerry 2022-05-05

    These are elected officials, fully supported by the Putin party. Rapid City voters seem to ignorant to understand what all of this means. When you try to keep the young folks from trying anything, ban it. Old Kate Thomas is just showing her arse.

  4. O 2022-05-05

    This seems to be a coward’s move. I’m sure even Rapid has a proper process for removing books for being too spicy; removal as “surplus property” seems to be their way of treating them only as non-intellectual property and side stepping the issue of content all together. To that end, it seems some said the quiet part out loud in explaining why these books are going.

  5. Jake 2022-05-05

    Cowards all=those in favor of this action! That author, Dave Eggers, is the only one between him and the board with his head on straight. My bet is he’ll send out quite a few books, too.

  6. Dicta 2022-05-05

    Eggers is one of my favs. If you haven’t read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius yet, please do.

    Also: thanks RC. Maybe next we can figure out if women are witches by pressing them under rocks.

  7. Donald Pay 2022-05-05

    When did Rapid City Area Schools become Nazis. I recall there was a pretty detailed policy if anyone objects to books. It involves someone actually objecting to a book and presenting reasons why the book should not be read by students. If I recall correctly, the process involves others who may want the book to remain providing an opposing view. There are a few levels of reviews, and potentially the school board makes the final decision, if necessary. For administrators to attempt this without going through a process is grounds in my mind for firing.

    I read “How Beautiful We Were.” I generally don’t read much fiction, but I did read this book because it followed an interest of mine in how local communities suffer when big government and big business gang up to site some bad project that harms the community but through corruption enriches the political elite. It looks at a number of ways people react, some not necessarily lawful. I suppose you could argue with that part of the book, but then we should have a discussion about, for example, the principles trying to ban books without following procedure.

  8. Jake 2022-05-05

    Don, these people aren’t known for following rules they don’t agree with!

  9. cibvet 2022-05-05

    Hopefully, it will be a public book burning so it can be filmed and shown along side the 1940 nazi book burning
    with pictures of SD repub delegation cheering them on. Possibly, that would awaken 2 or 3 percent of current pubs just
    to let them know who destroyed the republic.

  10. Mark Anderson 2022-05-05

    Dicta the witch thing, JD Vance continually refers to his female opponents as cat ladies. He tries to downgrade people. He continues to claim he represents those poor hillbillys. Just check out his space, its no tiny house. He had trump down, at first but, now he sucks his dick, so you know he’s all about himself. Say or do anything. Maybe we could have a piss on his book event. At night, alot of beer, some flames to see by and a pile of Hillbillys to elegy on.
    As for the Rapid school, if I lived there I would go to speak and just laugh at them. They are extremely funny bunnies.

  11. Mark Anderson 2022-05-05

    Actually If I went to the school board meeting I would not laugh, I would read the salacious parts of the Bible. It’s such a thick book it would burn well.

  12. Curt 2022-05-05

    Yes, there is a process – and procedures and committees and bureaucracy. But this is what it means when “elections have consequences”. All those levers of power and points of control are now firmly in the hands of the “thought police”. Their agenda was clear from the start and the only surprise is that people are surprised.

  13. WillyNilly 2022-05-06

    I am incredulous over this. When I was a youngster no one monitored what I read so I read everything. I read way above my level, some that I didn’t fully understand at the time. I read controversial books and papers simply because I wanted to. And look how I turned out. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a curious creative South Dakota student and have these people on my school board.

  14. leslie 2022-05-06

    First it was wing nuts on West Dakota Water Development board. Truly frightening immature thoughts expressed on the record and covered by the press, only 20 years ago.

    Now, post/Trump, I it’s RCASD which my friend presidented and served some terms. It is a board, a VERY IMPORTANT elective board, TAKEN OVER by incompetent nazis, as pay back for that public shaming and critique WDWDD ultra conservative members deserved.

    Only those too busy to participate are surprised. Most every one!

    We do after all have out-of-stater [(c) grdz] Phil Jensen (R) on the Legislature doing untold and told damage. And Bandidos. And infamous ultra right, outside the law Penn Cty Commission members, always. And red neck sheriffs, police and a Mayor who is pretty damn red too (but has some occasional good sense). And a city council largely far right Republican.

    We just can’t live so close to reservations and not act out against our native brothers and sisters. Being so close to Custer dying for our sins. We prolly have a quiet majority of more liberal health professionals too busy to consider political activity. Our only other industry is crushing rock, landing bombers, and a couple guys milking the rally. The rest of the populace by a majority is only interested in 4×4 pickups tearing up the place.

    THAT’s no surprise, for a liberal who grew up here. Mature adult political leaders? Not west river, it turns out. If only liberals and independents could unite.

    Thank god for a liberal old Navy salt and a great “chick” singer on the council.

  15. Mark Anderson 2022-05-07

    Dave Eggers is coming to Rapid, pick up your signed books readers.

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