Yet again!! Parents must interfere with school curriculum! Banned Books reports all instances of challenged titles throughout the world–thank goodness some one is watch dogging all the insane Puritan parental ‘watch dogs’ out there. !Another! instance of a kid’s parents dictating to the school what is allowed, and what is forbidden to be taught has occurred in New Hampshire. The book in contention? Water for Elephants, a book chosen for an elected course, meaning, the student signs up for the course, takes home a permission slip to be signed by their parents, and if the student wants to read the book, and the parents are normal, they sign off on it and teachers then teach, and students then learn.
But not all parents seem to believe that other parents are allowed to OK their offspring to read the course selection. Some like this particular couple believe that their sensibilities are law, and anyone who disagrees should be FIRED. Yes, not only do they have the audacity to demand the book and course be pulled because of a two page description of sexual acts most teenagers have probably already experienced, but they think they have the power and right to have the teacher or administrators be fired for introducing such horrible filth into the curriculum!
I’ve asked this before, and I still can’t find an answer; why does ANYONE outside the teachers and admins have any say over the books in school libraries and various courses? My guess, because we live in a world so afraid of its shadow, that schools no longer stand up for themselves. They cow-tow to whatever crackpot nitwits so freaked out about sex that they must publically make fools of themselves by demanding the book be banned. Do these parents not see how humiliating it must be for their child? Who wants to be known as the kid of the repressed couple who went ape over some rather tame sexual paragraphs? Oh boy, what a nightmare finishing high school that would be. What compels someone to believe something is soooooo offensive that it would damage the soft part of their teenagers brain if exposed to it? What are they seeing the rest of the world doesn’t, and again, why why why are their voices heard and acted upon, as opposed to all the silent parents who signed the permission slips for their kids to take a course with a great book that has 2 pages of lovemaking?
I realize that in centuries past, books such as these wouldn’t have seen the light of day in a school. But years ago, teenagers had sex, got pregnant, had back street abortions, were forced to marry early, contracted incurable sexual diseases and died, all without having been exposed to the horrors of sexual descriptions. Now, reading something like Water For Elephants, teenagers still have sex, get pregnant, hopefully stop having back street abortions, and probably don’t have a shotgun pointed at them, and can be cured of *most* sexually transmitted diseases. So the horrors of a couple of pages are, what, exactly????
I have no problem with a parent deciding their child shouldn’t be exposed to whatever offensive material they think is within a book. I believe they are backward hypocrites, but if it’s an elective course, it’s their prerogative. What’s galling is their never ending attempt to control the universe and everyone who disagrees with them. *Demanding* the book be removed, whether or not other parents have no problem with it, creating a huge stink over nothing, forcing reasonable teachers and administrators to back pedal and rethink the next choice of a book in fear that it may strike someone *elses* warped ‘moral code’ is outrageous behavior bordering on dictatorial.
Where will it end? What book is suitable for high schoolers? Certainly not Mark Twain’s classics, the N word is used, so those are out. Hmm. Although a children’s book, Alice in Wonderland is also unsuitable–that caterpillar eats some kind of drug, doesn’t he? And there’s tons of violence–a crazy woman is running around demanding heads to roll. Wait–oh, Hemmingway’s The Sun Also Rises, is a no go–the war veteran protagonist is clearly impotent. Some books that have been banned in the past? Dr Doolittle–for politically incorrect racial terms, Merchant of Venice–because of the way Shylock is depicted, Hamlet, and other Shakespeare–just pick a reason, I’m sure it’s listed, and Little Red Riding Hood–because, you won’t believe it–Red is taking food and WINE to her grandmother!
Can we find any more ridiculous reasons to deny readers their rights?
Why should we care, those of us who haven’t children in school, and booksellers? Because if the public keeps letting a few tell the majority what is allowed to be read, and what isn’t, we will soon find ourselves with less books printed, or e-booked, to read and sell. And sooner or later Fahrenheit 451 will become a reality.
Oh, that’s right. Fahrenheit 451 has already been banned. Why? Not because it rails against people no longer reading or governments burning books, but because ONE parent was offended by the term God dam.