JUNEAU THEATER BANS IT DUE TO RACISM
The modern literary classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest used to be banned from high schools because it was too counter-culture. Too edgy. Too “Ken Kesey psychedelic.”
Now it’s banned from a Juneau theater company because it’s racist and misogynistic.
Perseverance Theatre in Juneau cancelled the production because the story, written by a white man, features a Native American, a rapist, and negative depictions of those who work in the mental health field.
The novel is about a man who tries to escape a prison sentence by acting insane, gets himself locked up into an Oregon asylum, where he discovers things are much, much worse than prison.
Back in the 1970s, the book was routinely removed from public schools due to how it “glorifies criminal activity, has a tendency to corrupt juveniles, and contains descriptions of bestiality, bizarre violence, and torture, dismemberment, death, and human elimination.”
But all of that is acceptable in this era. What is not acceptable is racial insensitivity, sexual assault, and hurting the feelings of those who run psych wards.
Kesey’s book, published in 1962, and the film version that starred Jack Nicholson in the 1970s, had a profound impact on the field of mental health and the wide-but-questionable use of shock therapy, which is featured prominently in the book.
The procedure, described by Nurse Ratched in the book “might be said to do the work of the sleeping pill, the electric chair and the torture rack. It’s a clever little procedure, simple, quick, nearly painless it happens so fast, but no one ever wants another one. Ever.”
The book has been credited with ending shock therapy as it was practiced back in the day, and its impact on the mental health field is widely debated throughout the profession.
Read the letter from the Juneau theater company describing the ban of Ken Kesey’s classic and the reasons for the ban:
Libraries around the country will be celebrating Banned Book Week on Sept. 22-28. It’s an event sponsored by “Freedom to Read,” an organization that is dedicated to free expression. Sponsors include: American Booksellers Association; American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of University Presses; The Authors Guild; Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; Dramatists Legal Defense Fund; Freedom to Read Foundation; Index on Censorship; National Coalition Against Censorship; National Council of Teachers of English; PEN America; People for the American Way; and Project Censored. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.