I am pleased that my opinion piece about the Rainbow Boys novel has elicited such strong feelings from the campus community; I felt strongly about it myself. However, I am concerned about the attitudes expressed in the responses I have read.
After I wrote my letter, Sister Broadway, director of the Juvenile Literature Collection, met with me, and we discussed the book in question. Rainbow Boys and several other books, are now in the locked case collection-reserved for educational reasons, not general perusal. These books were meant to go into the locked case initially, but due to a small oversight, were accidentally shelved.
I do not object to books which deal with sensitive issues, but I am rather concerned when I find volumes which promote or encourage destructive behavior in a juvenile collection that children periodically frequent. (I was, of course, relieved to learn that Rainbow Boys was not there intentionally.) The real issue is not the book’s subject, but its purpose. This is why I enjoy reading classics by “Homer, Virgil,…Chaucer,” etc. (when I actually leave the juvenile section). They might deal with wickedness, but they do not encourage it or present it too explicitly.
Thus, I have no problem reading about “Lot and King Solomon,” (as Messrs. Anderson, Richey and Ms. Green suggested) because while the Bible chronicles evil, it does not instruct readers to imitate it, but portrays it to teach goodness. These books, then, still qualify as “virtuous, lovely [and] of good report.”
I understand that there are legitimate scholarly reasons for reading books which don’t concur with the principles and morals which our religion espouses. Likewise, there are legitimate scholarly reasons for cutting up cadavers. We do not, though, keep corpses hanging about for general public use.