I have to say, that reporting on these banned books stories is discouraging. Especially when I thought this particular problem was put to bed, as it were. But no. A school board decided to not allow the use of “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” in ANY grade level. The original contention was the 9th grade, but one member decided the language and sexual situations were not appropriate, period. Doesn’t matter that not ONE person on the board actually READ the book! That they admit to this omission is astonishing. Do these self appointed judges realize that not only are their community interested in their decisions but the entire country? In this world of instantness, quotes and admissions of ignorance are out there for all to see, and judge, just as the board members judged the book.
The answer to this is even more depressing. They don’t care. And after all, why should they? They are elected by people who agree with their limited mindset. Outsiders don’t vote, pay their salaries.
I suppose I might cut them a little slack if they read the book and had articulated their problems with the story, language, sexual abuse, why it wouldn’t be a helpful, learning experience for high schoolers. But they can’t even bother to crack open the volume, they go by other narrow minded ‘protective’ people who have decried the book as foul. Not all of the board members voted against the book, I should make that clear. But why is there not a bigger outcry by the members who believe the book should be taught? What is everyone so damn afraid of anyway?
Parents, even if just a lone gunman of a parent. We’ve seen what one parent can do to a school’s curriculum in New Hampshire–raise a ruckus, boom–books removed. The parent gets on the news, doesn’t matter if the person is a radical Christian whose agenda is suspect. The school would rather capitulate than fight a battle that they think may cause more negative publicity than the parent already has. So, now in Richmand OR, it seems the school board is taking steps to hold off what they believe will be parent protests. But would there be? How can they know, especially if they’ve not read the book?
And even if there are, what is an education about anyway? New ideas? Learning about other cultures, other situations than a suburban life style? Apparently not. It’s to keep within a very narrow world view, the one already in sight and if that view were to stray to the more ‘unpleasant’ pictures, their darling delicate children may melt from reflected glare of ‘filthy’ language and the realities that some of those children are already facing. Let’s get real. Sexual abuse has no economic standard. Incest, parental abuse, extended family abuse, neighbors, track coaches, priests, etc etc etc are from all areas of town. It’s just the whiter, richer, suburban area are pretty good at covering up this shameful fact.
The woman who changed the criteria from eliminating the book from 9th grade classes, to all grades said this:
“I get the feeling that language arts is an opportunity to talk about these issues and problems that are rampant in our society,” said board member Phyllis Strickler. “But is that really (its) purpose?”
Literature used in schools ought to teach high values and character, Strickler said. “I don’t see the appropriateness of gratuitous language and descriptions of sex,” she said.
I had written a fairly scathing response to her idiotic remarks, but wordpress saw fit to erase them! LOL. Probably for the best. All the arguments against this kind of thought have been raised again and again. But so long as there are people in our country who see fit to embarrass the rest of the US with their small mindedness, in front of the world, we who know better have to call them out and make the argument again and again–otherwise, the small souls may eventually make wee people of us all.
Thanks to Banned Books Week for the link: