Yes, Mississippians know how to read books. And yes, Mississippians will come for you on Twitter if you say otherwise.
Famous author Joyce Carol Oates retweeted a photo Monday morning of a banner featuring Mississippi author William Faulkner at Mississippi State University.
“So funny! If Mississippians read, Faulkner would be banned,” Oates said.
By 2 p.m. Monday, more than 500 people replied to Oates’ tweet, and most of them took issue with her insinuation that people in Mississippi can’t read.
“Do you think you’re helping to dispel the stereotype of liberal elitism, or not helping to dispel it?” Will Bardwell tweeted.
Mississippi woman Michele Walker said that Oates was ‘making presumptions based on regional prejudice.’
One man even had a word of advice of Oates: Read a little bit of Faulkner before forming an opinion about Mississippi.
Oates’ tweet comes at a time when many people across the nation have their eye on the Magnolia State after the Biloxi School District decided to pull “To Kill A Mockingbird” from its eighth grade lesson plan after a parental complaint.
The book was pulled, according to what little the Biloxi School District will say about the issue, because parents complained that language in the book made them uncomfortable.
A Southern gothic novel, “To Kill A Mockingbird” was published in 1960, won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction the next year and was adapted into an Oscar-winning film in 1962.
The plot deals with rape and racial inequality in a small Southern town. The events and characters are loosely based on author Harper Lee’s observations of an event that happened near her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, in the 1930s, when when she was young.
The school district’s decision has sparked a national dialogue about banned books like ‘To Kill A Mockingbird,’ and one librarian told the Sun Herald she thinks it’s great publicity for the book. A Biloxi bookstore is giving away free copies of the book to Biloxi students, and other places are ordering extra copies of the novel to have on standby.
Oates has not responded yet on Twitter.