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Austin Cline

Christian Wants 'Fahrenheit 451' Removed from Class

By October 8, 2006

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Books Cannot Be Killed By Fire
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Library of Congress
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction and this is one of those cases. In Montgomery County, Texas, a parent is trying to get Ray Bradbury's book Fahrenheit 451 removed from his daughter's class. What makes this situation so ironic is the fact that this book is about the suppression of books in a future society. The title itself is taken from the temperature at which paper burns because books are being burned by "firemen."

The parent, Alton Verm, says that the book is filed with "all kinds of filth," although he hasn't even read it himself. I guess he just skimmed through and saw some things he didn't like. So rather than simply objecting to his own daughter reading it, he doesn't want anyone to read it. The fact that he's trying to suppress a book about the suppression of books doesn't seem to matter.

"The book had a bunch of very bad language in it," Diana Verm said. "It shouldn't be in there because it's offending people. ... If they can't find a book that uses clean words, they shouldn't have a book at all."

Alton Verm filed a "Request for Reconsideration of Instructional Materials" Thursday with the district regarding "Fahrenheit 451," written by Ray Bradbury and published in 1953. He wants the district to remove the book from the curriculum.

"It's just all kinds of filth," said Alton Verm, adding that he had not read "Fahrenheit 451." "The words don't need to be brought out in class. I want to get the book taken out of the class."

Source: Montgomery County Courier

Apparently, this school district hasn't had any other books challenged for at least the last four years so this is the first in quite a while and it's quite an interesting choice for censorship efforts. There's no way the request to remove the book entirely will be honored. All that will happen is that more attention will be drawn to it and, hopefully, it's theme about the suppression of books.

He looked through the book and found the following things wrong with the book: discussion of being drunk, smoking cigarettes, violence, "dirty talk," references to the Bible and using God's name in vain. He said the book's material goes against their religions beliefs. The Verms go to Grand Parkway Church in Porter.

"We want them to go after God," said Glen Jalowy Jr., Grand Parkway Church youth minister. "We encourage them that what you put in your mind and heart is what comes out."

What's curious is the fact that similarly bad behavior can be found in the Bible itself. If being exposed to such material means that a book should be removed from a school, then perhaps all copies of the Bible should be removed from the school library as well. I don't think that we'll be seeing that happen any time soon, though.

"Fahrenheit 451" is a science fiction piece that poses a warning to society about the preservation and passing on of knowledge as well as asks the question about whether the government should do the thinking for the people, [Chris Hines, CISD assistant superintendent for secondary education.] stated in an e-mail to The Courier. Other themes include conformity vs. individuality, freedom of speech and the consequences of losing it, the importance of remembering and understanding history and technology as help to humans and as hindrances to humans, Hines stated in the e-mail.

"They're not reading books just to read them," Hines said in a telephone interview. "They're reading it for a purpose. ... We respect people's rights to express their concerns and we have a policy in place to handle that."

If the irony here isn't already thick enough, the request to remove this book from classes occurred the week after "Banned Books Week," a week dedicated to celebrate people's right to choose what to read and the right to publish what you want. A basic theme of the week is to highlight all of the books which people have tried to suppress and censor of the years including more recent attempts, like this.


Free Speech & Freedom of Expression:

October 13, 2006 at 3:20 pm
(1) Bob Howard says:

So typical of people who think they have a right to control other people’s morals it is hardly worth a comment.

October 13, 2006 at 7:40 pm
(2) Chris says:

Maybe he’s not typical, just the village idiot. If he is typical, then 451 should not merely be tolerated, but required reading.

September 24, 2008 at 9:34 pm
(3) Bob Mcfly says:

This is ridiculous

November 10, 2009 at 2:14 pm
(4) GeekGirl says:

If he hasn’t read it who is he to judge?

September 8, 2010 at 9:33 pm
(5) Understanding... says:

Honestly, I am reading this book as I write. This book relates to real life situations. In the case of Mr. Alton Verm, the burning of the Bible and the downgrading of Christian is a common everyday struggle. I am a strong Christian and I am in no way offended by this book. Firemen and political authority figures are not always in people’s best interests and the opinions of people should be expressed. By making comments on the injustice of this book, you are doing a great injustice to the author of this book. He is simply creating an interesting literary work of fiction. We experience drugs, violence, and other ‘wrong doings’ in our daily lives (on the streets, in schools, and at workplaces). I support this book.

March 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm
(6) teachermom says:

I am a teacher and Christian. I am teaching the book and have had parents complain about the profanity. Rather than ban the book, I worked out alternative assignments for these students. To ban the book outright is insane, particulary considering that the idea of book burning and banning is central to the novel. Who knows when Christian ideals and books may be next on the other side of banning? We must protect the interests and freedoms of all citizens. Parental objections can be resolved peacefully if all parties will act rationally. There is hope!

March 28, 2012 at 10:06 pm
(7) Jack Calamita says:

I agree with the idea that book burning is unconstitutional. My family is very much considered Christian and I love this book and tell all of my public school friends about it. Some of them have the nerves to have it out in Public School even though they know that it is banned. They love the book. This is a wonderful book and it is a serious book with a serious theme. Book burning of course was made popular by the Nazis under Adolf Hitler back in Germany during the 1930s to the early 1940s. If he thinks this is offensive god only knows how they feel towards my grandfather’s military commander. I think that this book is a great work of western origin and we are free people we have the unalienable right to read what we want when we want to. The verm’s can go cry about it, becuase that is just culture as it is right now. It is not going to change and they need to accept that!

December 4, 2012 at 7:23 pm
(8) John says:

Is this girl really offended by a little cussing, isn’t she a high schooler? It’s just fear created by her church and father. Banning this book would be theocratic. This book is great, more people should read it. Everyday I see more people like Mildred, all they care about is television and want everything simple, they don’t want to think. They make this book contraband and next they call pedestrians criminals. It’s just not right!

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