Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Kansas wingnuts want to ban dull books

Here is a list of books that another rogue cell of the Amurrican Wingnuttiban* based in Blue Valley, Kansas want to have taken out of schools, libraries and this plane of reality.

1. All the Pretty Horses
2. Animal Dreams
3. The Awakening
4. The Bean Trees
5. Beloved
6. Black Boy
7. Fallen Angels
8. The Hot Zone
9. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
10. Lords of Discipline
11. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
12. Song of Solomon
13. Stotan
14. This Boy’s Life
    Choosing a book link on their page takes you to a disclaimer the likes of which are only seen on porn sites and the warning labels of industrial strength varnish-remover...

    Warning

    Some of the material in these assigned school books is extremely controversial and many people consider it objectionable or inappropriate for children. The content you are about to view contains adult material that may not be appropriate for all users. Before viewing this page you must read and agree to the following:

    1. You are an adult (18 years or older) and have read and understand this warning.
    2. You understand that the material may involve language, content and themes of an adult, objectionable or controversial nature.
    3. IN NO EVENT WILL ClassKC.org BE LIABLE TO YOU FOR ANY DAMAGES OF ANY KIND resulting from viewing or any other use of this material.

    If you agree, click here to continue.

    Hilarious. Paging Dr Werthem!

    Then you get to the excerpt page...
    Fallen Angels
    Myers, Walter Dean

    Used in the Blue Valley Communication Arts classes
    This extremely graphic novel is a story about a group of young Army recruits in Vietnam. It centers around a black man from Harlem, Richie Perry, and how his opinion of the war is quickly changed. He initially believes that he won’t be there long and won’t have to actually fight because of a medical issue. After witnessing intense and repeated brutality and destruction he doubts the “morality” of the war and decides it’s not possible to define the line between good and evil.

    If this book was selected by Blue Valley school staff to teach children about the Vietnam War, it was a poor choice. Yes, “war IS hell.” But why not select one of the dozens of well-written books about the Vietnam War written by someone who was actually there? Walter Dean Myers did not serve in Vietnam. It’s difficult to believe that there is not a more suitable book available that 1) shows the perspective of an actual soldier or medical person (whether a minority or not) and 2) does not use pervasive vulgarity. One of the purposes of Communication Arts is to teach kids correct grammar and vocabulary. Does this book expand their minds and vocabularies in an educationally sound way?

    Furthermore, together with The Things They Carried these two books promote one narrow opinion about the Viet Nam War, and they promote this opinion in the same vulgar manner.

    It’s alarming to consider the effect this book could have on a child with unidentified psychological issues.
    Yes? Ban the book because someone who is already unhinged might get a wacky idea from it? Ah, the 50's! Ban flouride while you are it. Sorry, folks. But if someone is going to have sex or get the Big Headache and flip out it is impossible to keep them from being exposed to anything that might influence them. Even if you "round all the sharp corners" of the world someone will eventually be on top of a clock tower holding a rifle and screaming about how the sunshine and puppies drove him to it. It is all relative.

    Truthfully, there are few books on the list I would ever consider reading just because they are so darn boring. I can't read anything by Maya Angelo without wanting to throw myself under a bus. Yet that doesn't mean I have to agree with their 18th century ideals.

    Interestingly, on their page of books that they are aghast that are not approved to read are titles that others have in the past tried to ban for the themes of drug abuse, child labor, homosexuality and immorality. Under Great Titles for High School are listed, among others, Moby Dick and The Diary of Anne Frank. If I recall correctly, the protagonist and Queequeg of Mellville's clasic whale hunting book were quite affectionate.

    Another gem from their site:
    Wouldn't it make more sense to select high-quality, non-sexualized literature for teenagers in the first place?
    Like what...The Bible? I'd suggest they give that little tome an in-depth read for immoral content, also. Yes, I know that is a cliched rebuttal but I can't help it. I also point out The Passion of the Christ when someone whines about violence in films.

    I'd hazard a guess that very few of the Blue Valley Gang have actually read any of the books that they are FOR or AGIN' and are instead relying on others to write the marching orders for them.

    * Anyone ever notice that a wingnut looks like a halo flanked by an angel's wings? Me neither.

    7 comments:

    1. Found your blog as I sometimes do...by clicking next blog :)

      Great post and interesting conclusions you draw...

      I am a civil libertarian and can not stand when people try to legislate taste...especially when they have no taste :)

      Take care!

      Bradley
      The Egel Nest

      ReplyDelete
    2. Most of the books on the list don't sound messed up enough for me, so haven't read them(if I've heard of them). One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest wasn't boring. If This Boy’s Life is the book I'm thinking of, it was a good movie. Don't know about the book, though.

      ReplyDelete
    3. The Hot Zone?

      That's non-fiction, about an outbreak of the Ebola virus.

      Sheesh. They're probably all freaked out by descriptions of Ebola victims bleeding out through all their orifices. That's the only 'sexual' content I can imagine being in there.

      ReplyDelete
    4. Ah, yes, they *are* freaked out by descriptions of Ebola's effects on the bodies of victims.

      Example passages:

      • ...testicles bloat up and turn black and blue, the semen goes hot with Ebola, and the nipples may bleed.


      • In women, the labia turn blue, livid, and protrusive, and there may be massive vaginal bleeding…pregnant woman…the child is aborted spontaneously…

      • The corpse...begins to liquefy…


      SEXY! No wonder they're concerned.

      ReplyDelete
    5. They're also concerned about profanity in The Hot Zone, but hell, if there was ever an appropriate context for profuse profanity, it is surely when "testicles bloat up and turn black and blue".

      ReplyDelete
    6. I think I'd be using words a bit stronger than 'phooey'...

      ReplyDelete
    7. The big problem comes between presenting things realistically and presenting them in a way that teaches the things you want the kids to learn. As far as I am aware if you took out all the bad language, drug abuse, and other less than ideal behaviour from a story set in the Vietnam war then it's not going to be a very accurate story, whether the writer took part or not.

      ReplyDelete

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