If you are either a fan of Kurt Vonnegut or a defender of free speech, you probably will enjoy reading the letter Vonnegut wrote back in 1973 to the head of a North Dakota school board that burnt copies of the classic Slaughterhouse-Five in a school furnace.
(Note: If you are upset that this seems a non-baseball topic, fear not: there is a Yankee angle that I will mention after I am finished venting.)
Here is one of the letter's money quotes (emphasis added):
"It is true that some of the characters speak coarsely. That is because people speak coarsely in real life. Especially soldiers and hardworking men speak coarsely, and even our most sheltered children know that. And we all know, too, that those words really don’t damage children much. They didn’t damage us when we were young. It was evil deeds and lying that hurt us."
Though this occurred 1973, it is unfortunately still relevant. Our country too many citizens who have the same attitude towards the free market of ideas as the Taliban. It's scary to read of the frequency of banned books and other nut-job attacks on intellect and science.
While these acts of censorship are mostly promoted by right-wing religious extremists, said extremists do not hold a monopoly on censorship. Indeed, the item that most enrages me originates in left-wing political correctness: the way that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is either banned or not taught because some people pretend that the use of the "N-word" is always equal regardless of context. Only a fool would conflate the ironic use of the word via the anti-racist pen of Mark Twain with its malicious use by racists, such as when used by this pathetic excuse for a human being. But we have no shortage of fools on this topic, which brings to mind a relevant quote from Huckleberry Finn:
"H'aint we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain't that a big enough majority in any town?"
Finally, here is the Yankee angle: Paul O'Neill is related to Mark Twain. According to Paul's web site, his great-grandfather married Mary Clemens, a cousin of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain's real name).