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Dad’s response to ‘Fahrenheit 451’ permission slip teaches everyone a lesson

Photo Credit: Daniel Radosh via Twitter

After a New York father’s son brought home a permission slip to read “Fahrenheit 451,” he got vocal about the irony of the situation at hand.

Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” is a story of censorship and served as a warning for McCarthyism in 1950s America. The book has been surrounded by controversy since it was released in 1953 and was censored in the early 1990s.

When Daniel Radosh, 47, a writer for “The Daily Show,” was asked to sign a permission slip, written by his son, to allow the boy to read the book, he couldn’t simply sign the form. Instead, he wrote the teacher a letter.

The permission slip was required in Radosh’s son’s eighth grade book club because of Bradbury’s use of profanity and a depiction of bible burning. Radosh viewed the permission slip as an act similar to the censorship in Bradbury's novel.  

“What a wonderful way to introduce students to the theme of “Fahrenheit 451,’ ” Radosh wrote in response to the letter, “that books are so dangerous that the institutions of society -- schools and parents -- might be willing to team up against children to prevent them from reading one.”

Radosh’s response has been retweeted more than 10,000 times and received 16,000 likes on Twitter since Monday, Oct. 24 and has sparked strong commentary as well.

Some commenters believe that the permission slip is an intentional way to prove the point of “Fahrenheit 451.”

“It sounds like there may be a theme of reading banned books with permission slips intended to underscore that,” wrote Deboora Wexler. Radosh says he hopes this is the case.

Others celebrated Radosh for the way he handled the matter.

“You, sir, are our absolute hero today,” wrote Main Coast Bookshop.

Here’s a transcript of Radosh’s letter:


“I love this letter! What a wonderful way to introduce students to the theme of Fahrenheit 451 that books are so dangerous that the institutions of society -- schools and parents -- might be willing to team up against children to prevent them from reading one. It's easy enough to read the book and say, 'This is crazy. It could never really happen,' but pretending to present students at the start with what seems like a totally reasonable 'first step' is a really immersive way to teach them how insidious censorship can be. I'm sure that when the book club is over and the students realize the true intent of this letter they'll be shocked at how many of them accepted it as an actual permission slip. In addition, Milo's concern that allowing me to add this note will make him stand out as a troublemaker really brings home why most of the characters find it easier to accept the world they live in rather than challenge it. I assured him that his teacher would have his back.”

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