County and federal officials are reviewing claims by a group that books used in Howell High School classes are profane and pornographic.
The Livingston Organization for Values in Education objects to books by Pulitzer Prize-winner Toni Morrison, Richard Wright, Kurt Vonnegut and Erin Gruwell, who wrote "The Freedom Writers Diary." The group sent letters to the offices of the U.S. attorney, state attorney general and Livingston County prosecutor that ask for opinions on whether the books violate laws on obscenity and distribution of materials that are harmful to minors.
The federal and state offices sent the matter to the FBI, which a spokeswoman said is routine when complaints are filed, according to stories published Thursday in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus and The Detroit News.
County Prosecutor David Morse said he would decide by next week whether the books meet the legal definition of obscenity. The FBI said its investigation would take up to a month.
In a news release, Livingston Organization for Values in Education called Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" a graphic child rape book. It also objects to Wright's "Black Boy" and Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five."
To be legally defined as pornography, a book must be found to appeal only to readers' prurient interest in sex and have no literary or educational value.
Susan Kley, a member of Friends of Howell Public Schools, rejects the arguments made by the Livingston Organization for Values in Education.
"If you feel that strongly about it, put your kids in private school," she said.