Colorado mom Sarah Timme is upset that her 8th-grade son was assigned to read a short story about a man who hunts humans for sport. Now, she's calling for "The Most Dangerous Game" to be pulled from the classroom.
Timme was reviewing homework for her son, who attends Brighton's Bromley East Charter School, when she came across an assignment that required him to a answer questions about the story, KUSA reports. The 1924 fictional short story by Richard Connell has been used by English teachers for decades to teach literary concepts like symbols and motifs.
But Timme tells the station that the lesson is inappropriate in light of recent events, particularly that of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway, who was reportedly sexually assaulted before being killed by 17-year-old Austin Sigg.
Timme says that "The Most Dangerous Game" only serves to encourage school violence, adding that she was "outraged and appalled" by the story and assignment, which were disturbing to both her and her son.
To be sure, Connell's short story has served in schools to teach students the underlying concepts of literature. Study guides available to students online cite the story's major themes as questioning of accepted logic -- pointing out the hunter's skewed world perspective -- and the irony of humanity -- drawing attention to the irony that highly advanced and education civilizations still kill while at war over land and resources.
Other suggested themes include reason versus instinct -- forcing a differentiation between humans and animals based on human logic -- and the detrimental effects of war.
In a statement to KUSA, Brighton 27 J School District spokesperson Kevin Denke said while "The Most Dangerous Game" is not in the district's standard middle school curriculum, the charter school is permitted to create its own lessons. Still, school officials will evaluate the story's use in language arts classes.
Another book that portrays killing as sport, and popular among students, is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. A report out earlier this year by Renaissance Learning, Inc. found that Collins' novel topped the list of books that high schoolers were reading in the 2010-2011 school year. But for the second year in a row, The Hunger Games trilogy has been challenged by parents and educators, calling it "sexually explicit" and "unsuited to age group and violence."
In October 1973, Drake High School board members in North Dakota burned 32 copies of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughter-House Five because they found it "objectionable," and "didn't approve of its obscene language." In response, Vonnegut wrote a scathing letter to the school, noting that the act was "extraordinarily insulting to [him]."
And just this summer, Utah's Davis School District limited access to a book, requiring parental permission for children to check out a gay-advocacy book from elementary school libraries. "In Our Mothers' House" tells the story of children being raised by a lesbian couple and first sparked controversy in January when a mother complained that her kindergartener brought the book home.