Flannery O’Connor: And Her Own Received Her Not

November 2000

The Catholic bishop of Lafayette, Louisiana, has banned Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor’s book A Good Man Is Hard to Find from Opelousas Catholic High School. Why? Because, according to Rod Dreher, writing in The Weekly Standard (Sept. 11), certain black parents protested that the book “contains characters who use the words ‘nigger’ and ‘pickaninny.’”

“Pickaninny”? Why, we haven’t heard that word used in thirty years. Indeed, we forgot what it meant, and had to look it up. But, thanks to the Bishop of Lafayette, that word is now back on our map.

We do remember what the word “nigger” means, but again, we haven’t heard it used in thirty years, with one exception: When among blacks we do on occasion hear them call one another “nigger.”

In his righteous zeal to be politically correct, the Bishop of Lafayette, one Edward J. O’Donnell, decreed that “no similar books” may replace O’Connor’s, meaning other books containing racially offensive words in any context. As Dreher notes, the students at Opelousas Catholic High therefore won’t be reading Mark Twain or William Faulkner or even the black writers Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, or James Baldwin. Golly, the old Index of Forbidden Books didn’t come close to being this censorious!

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New Oxford Notes: November 2000

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