Tuesday, February 02, 2010

On The Bright Side, All That Time They Would Have Been Reading Can Now Be Spent Watching Reruns Of The L Word

You know, back in our days as inmates of our local educorporate training facility, the educational technicians knew that the best way to get us to read anything was to tell us it was banned. We probably owe a good portion of our present career to the fellow who read the real version of the Miller's Tale to us one day. As soon as "kissed her naked arse full savorly" left his lips that constant mumble of pubescent voices that seemed to accompany us wherever we gathered stopped as if someone threw a switch. Our attention was so strongly focused on the front of the room that the paint behind the instructor began to peel. Naked arses right here in English! Plus, that Miller guy? He was drunk! Top that football coach teaching Health Class!

So we've always used book banning as a sort of reverse barometer of what the kids were reading and in most instances we've been pleased that students would rather read Tropic of Cancer than A Rose for Emily if only because there aren't any study guides for Henry Miller like there are for Faulkner. Good literature should be a little risky and dangerous. For everybody. Which is why this concerns us a little.
Culpeper County public school officials have decided to stop assigning a version of Anne Frank's diary, one of the most enduring symbols of the atrocities of the Nazi regime.
Seriously? Anne Frank? The little 13 year old girl who wrote up in her hidden room until the Germans found her? The little girl who wrote, "Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart " a couple of years before she died of Typhoid in a Concentration Camp. This is the author you're afraid will corrupt the youth of Culpeper County?

Come on people. This here is no Naked Lunch. What's your beef?
A parent complained that the book includes sexually explicit material and homosexual themes.
Uh...yeah. You must be talking about when she wrote, "If I read a book that impresses me, I have to take myself firmly by the hand, before I mix with other people; otherwise they would think my mind rather queer."

Heh heh. She said "queer."
"The Diary of a Young Girl: the Definitive Edition," which was published on the 50th anniversary of Frank's death in a concentration camp, will not be used in the future, said James Allen, director of instruction for the 7,600-student system.
OK, here's our question. If this guy is the director of instruction in a district that can't even handle Anne Frank, why do they need a director of instruction? Seems like someone from the substitute bus driver's pool could handle the job. Save the district some money too. Just trying to help.
Culpeper's policy on "public complaints about learning resources" calls for complaints to be submitted in writing and for a review committee to research the materials and deliberate, Allen said. In this case, the policy was not followed. Allen said the parent registered the complaint orally, no review committee was created and a decision was made quickly by at least one school administrator.
We understand a newspaper reporter had tried to interview the administrator about the decision, but there had been a thunderstorm that morning and the administrator was still hiding under the bed.
The American Library Association has documented only six challenges to "The Diary of Anne Frank" since it began monitoring formal written complaints to remove or restrict books in 1990.
Six times in 20 years? Man, can you imagine what the guy who read us The Miller's
Tale could do in a district like this?
One record dating to 1983 from an Alabama textbook committee said the book was "a real downer" and called for its rejection from schools.
Yeah. Them Nazis sure knew how to take the fun out of a war.


Seeing Eye Chick said...

That is fucked up IM. Banning Anne Frank. WTF? Over!

I wish I could say this weren't happening all over, but between this and the *People coexisted with Lemurian Dinosaurs in the Bible movement for Biology class--what is one to say? Other than, this is why I homeschool.

So that my kids can read those wonderful books without some neo-Puritan asshole trying to yank it out of their hands in a fit of self righteous indignation.

My kids are small right now, so we are just sticking to Madeliene L'Engle's idea of the space-time continuum.

That being said, I want my children to know who Anne Frank is, in her own words, who Malcom X is...Dr King, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and other historic, and heroic figures who are not perfect. Who are fallible mortals who accomplished great things in spite of themselves and the world they lived in.

And like you pointed out, it is the salacious bits that give history and literature it's depth and often reveal it's true nature.

I wouldn't dream of white washing those bits out when they offer something as important as perspective.

Ironicus Maximus said...

Ah, well said there Ms. Chick. If it hadn't been for that teacher crazy enough, or maybe wise enough to trust us with the Miller's Tale, the real Miller's Tale, not the one sanctioned by the adults, we may never have learned that literature is about humans, not homework, truth, not tests, community, not compositions. This completes your minimum daily requirement of alliteration.

Seeing Eye Chick said...

Agreed. This is is also why I have a lovely collection of real faerie tales and folktales as opposed to the disneyfied versions so often offered through pop culture. We also have an etymology dictionary as well books on idioms. Those are fun.

I remember the first time I found an etymology dictionary. It was like finding the Rosetta Stone or something. I couldn't stop reading it.