I Am SO Sick of Parents Dictating What Is Read in High School

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.


62 thoughts on “I Am SO Sick of Parents Dictating What Is Read in High School”

  1. Truth #1: Books have the power to form us. They give us new ideas. They reinforce or challenge established norms.

    Truth #2: Parents and society have a serious obligation to form youth into citizens who will take their place as adults in society.

    Therefore, both parents and society should have a say in what children are reading. Censorship battles are helpful because they force parents and society to wrestle with (1) what kind of people do we want our children to grow up to be and (2) what kind of books will help get them there. To make parents the enemy, as this post clearly does, is to shut out their voice from the public discussion of the issues of education. I guess we shouldn’t censor books, just parents who want to have their say.

    • First, the idea that you have definitive ‘truths’ regarding this issue is part of what I’m railing against. These are not ‘truths’. They are your personal opinions of what ‘truth’ means within this scenerio.

      Parents do have a say in what *their* children are reading. This couple could have said no, not signed the permission form, and that would be it. That is their control, and their decision in this case as to what was acceptable for their child. To impose their opinion on other students, robs another couple from saying ‘yes, this would be good for our teenager to learn about’, they sign the slip and the course is taught, no ‘objectionable’ content would reach the first teenager’s eyes, while the other takes a course and experiences something outside their known world.

      Society or the educators are not censoring or trying to take parental power from the home. But parents should have no say in terms of curriculum, otherwise there will always be a parent offended by some book a school choses to teach. Water For Elephant was thrown out because of ONE couple. This is not society and parents working together to have a say in what children are reading. This is a couple of bullies who decided within their own set of morals that Elephant for Water was offensive. If every parent finds a book within the school curricculum to be offensive, what books will be taught?

      If a parent wants a home schooled child, for example, to only read Christian history books, and exclude evolution, they have complete control. If a parent has a public school child and doesn’t believe in evolution, they can teach their children whatever alternative they want, at home. So, if a parent demands their children learn only what they want them to learn and believe, a parent can do so. From the home.
      But, they cannot, should not, be allowed to dictate to entire communities that evolution shouldn’t be taught, or creation whatever should be taught. Or Catcher in the Rye isn’t suitable as a learning tool, or fill whatever title ‘offends’ in the blank. Society doesn’t consist of one pair of parents. But society as a whole has become so afraid of any kind of controversy, it relinquishes common sense.

      Certain parents ARE the enemy of free thought, free speech-of education that doesn’t fit their world view, deciding that *all* teenagers won’t become decent adults if they read certain books, or for that matter, see certain films, plays, television shows. They fight tooth and nail, not to better students’ future potential, but to keep them from expanding their ideas beyond what they deem as ‘appropriate’.

      If you believe parents should force their viewpoints, the way these two did in New Hampshire, and it was correct for the school to fold, then I am terrified of what kind of people children today will grow up to be. If kids are fed the idea that certain books are ‘objectionable’ and shouldn’t be read, and a few people can control the many, and curriculums should be decided by parents not professional educators hired to expand students horizons, opinions, prejudices, beliefs, then the future looks bleak. The last thing society needs is more students reaching adulthood with close minded bigotry, false puritanical postures, and being rubber stamped duplicates of their parents, it doesn’t matter if they’re socially to the left or right.

      I’m reading the book now, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to my 15 year old niece. If the sexual passages confuse or bother her, I’d rather have them explained by a teacher or myself, than her learn about them crudely in real life, that’s if she hasn’t already been exposed.

      • Ms. Plumley,

        Thank you so much for addressing my comment to your posting.

        I would like to clarify my position based on your comments in the next to the last paragraph above. My point is that parents’ voices, no matter if they’re “socially to the left of right”, should be heard when it comes to matters of curriculum for our children. And not just the parents’ voices, but all concerned citizens. We all have a stake in what kind of people our children grow up to be. I think it does a disservice to the children to pit parents against professional educators since sometimes, not every time or even most of the time, parents have a better idea of what will help children than the professional educators do.

        I’m not saying every parent’s suggestion for curriculum should be obeyed, just that they should be heard and taken seriously by the professional educators who ultimately have control over public school curriculum. What I take issue with in your original posting and your comment is the idea that it is wrong for parents to try to influence the public school curriculum.

        • I think we are more similar in our ideas, than not, but I still maintain that parents should not have the power to influence school curriculum. Can there be civil discussion between parents concerned about certain books or courses, yes. But who should have the final say? The school with trained educators, or a few or many parents and others ‘offended’ by one book, course, or another?
          It’s the nature of humans to question authority. And sometimes it needs to be done. I question my doctor about certain courses of action she thinks I should take. And I can get a second opinion. But who am I going to allow to sway me? A medical doctor, or the car mechanic down the street who claims he knows those doctors are just quacks and his cure for hiccups is to swallow huge quantities of sand?
          Why do we hire educators to only strip them from their ability to teach what they deem good for students?
          I swear, according to today’s fear of controversy, practically none of my high school lit books would be taught today. And I don’t think the baby boomers turned out too awfully bad, lol.

          • These issues touch on who has the authority to educate these adolescents (I don’t like my previous use of the word “children” in this instance since we are discussing high school students). I see two sides here: (1) parents have final authority in the education of their adolescents and the schools and the curriculum boards cooperate with the parents in education or (2) the larger society, as represented by the school officials and curriculum boards, has the final authority in educating these adolescents and the parents should leave the public education decisions to the schools. I tend to view the former as more just and, I think, you the latter.

            I think the parents of a community should generally have local control over what their adolescents are reading. A curriculum board should have the final authority (or else there is no reason for the board’s existence), but the board should be elected in some fashion by the parents of the community. When parents object to a decision by the board, they should be vocal about it. If the board sides with them then that’s the board exercising its authority and agreeing with the parents. If the board sides against the parents, the parents should keep acting upon their convictions but within the bounds of the law and good taste.

            If the parents who objected to WATER FOR ELEPHANTS got their way underhandedly then I object vehemently. I would say, “I am SO sick of parents underhandedly dictating what is read in high school”. However, if these parents brought their concerns to the curriculum board and the board agreed with them and made the changes, than all is well. I think there are many other worthwhile books to read and WATER FOR ELEPHANTS can be read at another time.

          • Why not have school kids reading Penthouse letters or even more hard core porn? The point is that my desire as a parent to have my child be exposed to age appropriate material does not as a rule constitute censorship. This debate over pushing the envelope on graphic material in schools and then screaming censorship when a parent objects has got to stop. If others try to stop me as an adult from reading certain material, that is censorship. If I as a parent attempt to ensure that my child is exposed to reading age appropriate material that is NOT censorship. I do not want my grade school child watching rated R movies at school nor would I want them to be exposed to reading material that by its vary nature is adult in content.

            I guess the point that you (and many like you) seem to mis Diane is that as a parent it is my child to raise. Your belief that YOU somehow have the right to decide what to expose my child to is simply wrong. As to your notion that trained educators must somehow know what is best for my child, trained educators seem to fail over half the kids in public schools based on graduation rates and reading levels. Based on their proven track record of failure, trained educators are the last people I would trust to decide what is best for my children.

          • I guess that I will add that my real issue is with those who attempt to rob children of childhood. I have a thirteen year old daughter who reads about 50 books per year. It is unlikely that in 10 childhoods she would ever run out of really great books to read. When adult books are pushed on children it is not only robbing them of the chance to read the great kids books that are out there, it is robbing them of a big part of being a kid. We will all have plenty of time to be an adult, why not let kids be kids for just a few years.

      • Dear Diane:

        The idea in the book that I objected to was not “sex.” I objected to the loss of innocence that my child, and likely others, would suffer if they read open, graphic descriptions of oral sex and prostitution. We parents and, by extension, the schools, are there to exercise some authority over our kids, to help them choose right from wrong. You would have us abandon this traditional role. Giving pornography to kids, along with an opt-out permission slip, still creates classes that are eighty percent porn-reading. Why would you want to harm a child understanding of lovemaking by giving them this adult oriented material? If a parent wants their kiddie to read the book, buy it at Barnes and Noble with your own money. Don’t waste the teachers, time, and resources the Bedford community is forced to cough up each year on teaching such garbage.

  2. I don’t think the target of this post is parents, but rather that very small but vocal minority of parents who like to cause controversy. In my experience as a teacher in Australia, I’ve had irrate parents complaining about Tim Winton’s ‘Lockie Leonard’ book, but when asked if they had read the book or even the section describing a ‘wet dream’ they hadn’t.

    If parents would read the books and then make informed judgements then that would be fine, but in too many of these cases it’s all aout the wildstorm of controversy. Someone tells someone about a sex scene and rather than go to the source (the book) too often hearsay is enough.

    And finally, while I agree that parents do play a very important (essential!) part in the upbringing of their children, there are a lot of children out there without such guidance. Some families have very little support or even communication between parents and children. Schools are able to bring some kind of support to these kids, and books are also essential in allowing a child (or adult) to read about things beyond their normal everyday life, to walk in the shoes of others and develop affinity and sympathy. If people can’t read or imagine other lives then we become a very cloistered inward-looking community.

    And that’s never good.

    • Ben,

      I read the book. That is why I complained. I read the book. When I saw the circus prostitute scene, with the tit-twirling and tit sucking, I said to myself “Gee, I wonder if this is a good educational investment for my boy.” Obviously, it would be cheaper for my son to vicariously enjoy a strip tease in a book than it would be for me to take him to a strip club. Still, the issue seemed not so much one of saving money for the family as it was one of common sense. I may be old fashioned, but I don’t think that public schools and pornography are a good mix. But if they are, the school is not doing nearly enough to teach our kiddies about such acts. We can’t have it both ways. We can’t say that character counts and then give our kids material that glorifies adultery and gives graphic sexual descriptions of it. But, if our goal is simply to produce children without any sense of right and wrong, the Bedford Bigh School is leading the way.

      • Um, Dennis, I read the scene your newspaper linked to, and the word tit doesn’t appear. That’s your ugly word. Putting this together with your other posts, I think you have shown that you have a definite problem treating women with respect yourself.

        • Dear Amanda:

          The Nashua Telegraph scene, as I read it back a month of so ago, is not about the circus prostitute Barbara. In that scene, earlier in the book, she most definately twirls her tits and sucks on them for the pleasure of the Johns in the audience. I point this out as I am trying to encourage others to treat women with respect and not as sex slaves. Barbara is a sex worker, forced by the poverty of the Depression, to work the only trade she knows. She is pitiable and the men she services the victimizers. I am against such material given to the kiddies at the BHS without comment. I cannot personally imagine what the teacher would have said about this scene. I know what I would have said if I had been forced, forced mind you, to teach this part of the book. Given the utter lack of common sense at the BHS, I really have little hope as to what any given teacher might have said.

          • Amanda:

            Was I supposed to hide the actual words in the book in deference to women everywhere? Would you prefer that such behavior be euphemized to protect the sensitive ears of the adults writing in this blog? Possibly, you would like me to call a spade a spade. I hope to shed light on the scenes and provide much needed disclosure of the facts of the book. Far too many bloggers have talked around the scenes and used high and mighty words like “banning ideas” and “all great literature deals with issues like sex, death, and poverty” Just read the blogs about this issue and you will see that these paraphrases are spot on. None of them have dared to write that “all great literature has graphic sexual scenes, so graphic that, if filmed, would make an x rated scene.” I don’t recall Shakespeare telling us that Juliet was performing oral sex on Romeo–though that description of the sexual act is somewhat less offensive than what we actually have in Water for Elephants.

  3. Michael–if you distrust public school teachers, then home school your children. My child isn’t yours, and if I want my child to read Water For Elephants, that’s also MY right as a parent–not YOURS or any other parents right to decide for me or my child what they can and cannot read within a public school curriculum.

    Did you read the book? And if so, those passages offended your sensibilities so badly that ALL high school students who wanted to take the class must abide by YOUR ‘moral code’?

    You know very well that comparing this book to porn is idiotic. What’s worse, probably many high school kids have read both magazines, on their own.
    And where does grade school children enter into this? Grade school kids weren’t assigned the book.

    The point YOU miss is I’m not trying to force certain reading on to your child. What don’t you understand about this course being an elective one and the parent of a student HAD COMPLETE CONTROL over THEIR CHILD. All a parent needed to do is opt out, how many times does this need to be stated before it gets through that want you are demanding is not about people telling you what your child should do, but you telling EVERYONE else’s children what to do.
    If that isn’t censorship for my child, then you are somewhat confused about the definition.

    • If I as a public school teacher wanted your child to read Glenn Beck and spend class time talking about what fools the average liberal was (a view I do not hold) would you think that was equally great? My view is that you are forcing your opinion on others. Why must I, or my child opt out? Public school is by its very nature, public. To me this means that if you want a liberal, or conservative, or this, or that, education for your child then you can always opt out. You seem to want it geared toward your views and everyone else just needs to opt out. If you want your child to read a book that some may not view as appropriate in a public school setting the child can always read it on their own. Want to talk about the book? There are several books clubs that are supported by my store that have read and talked about the book. Education is everywhere not just in the school.

      • Michael. In this specific case of censorship, the class ITSELF is an option. The course is offered, a student signs up, takes a permission slip home, get’s it approved and signed, or not. Should be the end of the story.
        if an optional class is offered studying Glenn Beck’s viewpoints, I would consider the class about fiction or the plight of the insane, lol, but I wouldn’t complain, just talk to my kid afterward about what he thought. I would sign the permission slip, because it is vitally important kids, teens, are exposed to all sorts of viewpoints and thoughts.
        How on earth can I be forcing my views upon the entire school system by deciding that I want the school’s curriculum to stay in place and those parents who have a problem with it, don’t have your kid participate? It isn’t about anything being geared to *my* views. The class was created by the system, I find it perfectly fine, and I sign the slip. That’s all. I’m not a parent complaining I want certain books read, I’m not foisting my ideas of what books should or shouldn’t be taught.
        One pair of parents should not be in control of an entire school system, and it’s not the parents who quietly decide which optional book their child will or will not read that is forcing their viewpoint. The bottom line should be–the books decided by the school system should not be conditional upon you, mine, or anyone else’s viewpoint.

    • My view on all of this is about “censorship” in general. This book has been on my reading list for some time, as of now I have not read it, and have no opinion as to the quality of it as a selection in and of itself.

      I strongly feel and have seen the label of censorship used as a red hearing to cover the real truth that many are pushing adult books with adult content on children. I brought up the porn because it points to the fact that in movies, music, video games, comics, and magazines we are able to label material as being not suitable for children of a certain age. Only books are immune to this as any attempt to label them as such brings on the charge of censorship.

    • Diane:

      Your arrogance is unbelievable. You would blithely tell Micheal, that, if he didn’t like the pornography, he could withdraw his child and homeschool. Have you ever homeschooled a child? Do you understand what a major time commitment it is to have a spouse stay home–and not earn a living–to do this? What about choosing a curriculum and PAYING FOR IT YOURSELF!!! No checks from the state or from the town. They take and the homeschoolers get nothing. We are “free” to homeschool, but homeschooling ain’t and likely never will be free. We homeschoolers deserve a refund on our taxes so that we can vote with our feet. We would leave that cesspool of a public school in a heartbeat, if we had other viable choices. Therefore, as long as the trash comes at our publically enrolled student, we will do everything in our power to clean it up–and that may mean stopping your kiddies from feasting on it. Either clean up the school or pay us to get out of it. Stop trying to censor our political beliefs. We have a right to complain, and we will exercise that right!!!

      • Excuse me, when did this become a political belief? I thought it was about ‘appropriate’ reading for high schoolers. I guess this post lets us in on your real agenda. Make the school system into your own image. Whatever that may be.

        The only cesspool I see here is your intense reaction to what you deem as pornographic material. Don’t you think your response is just a bit over the top? It’s a few pages in a novel–not a Andy Warhol film.

        I don’t even want to explore what other ‘moral’ battles you feel you must launch against whatever in society isn’t to your liking.

        And stop, stop stop acting as though you are a victim! You had your say, no one stopped you, you got the books removed, you cannot claim victimhood when you are the one heard all over the TV waves, at school meetings, etc. Just because you don’t like MY taking on your actions, doesn’t mean you are a victim.
        You complain all you want. You’ve exercised enough now that you should be Jack LaLane.
        Freedom of speech? Does anyone really understand what the founders meant by this? It means that anyone in this country can say anything about their leaders and not be considered disloyal or traitors. That’s it. Nothing in there about blogs, school boards, TV shows, etc etc etc.

        So, stop crying foul just because someone disagrees with you and your practice book banning.

  4. “…why does ANYONE outside the teachers and admins have any say over the books in school libraries and various courses?”

    Parents have a say because they are the PRIMARY educators of their children, no matter how they choose to school them. Parents are often the taxpayers providing the funds to purchase those books, as well. Why shouldn’t they also have input and demand accountability for that funding?

    • Jeannette
      There is a difference between input and censorship. Accountability? For what? choosing a book for an optional intersession class that needed permission slips from those very parents you demand should have input?
      They *had* input. No signed permission slip. The End. But the one couple demanded that no other parent is allowed input, just them.
      So where does it end? Should every parent who has a issue with something in a school’s curriculum be able to dictate to the rest of society what their idea of schooling should be?
      My godmother pays school taxes, and she didn’t and doesn’t have anyone in school. So, how is the tax paying aspect of censorship come in?
      You know, I’m dead tired of the “I pay taxes, I have a right to blah blah blah”. If this axiom is true, then-I pay taxes and I won’t fund high school football, it’s too violent, children are injured and worse. And, I pay taxes and I don’t believe other languages should be taught my kids–who cares about them other countries anyway? I pay taxes and Home Ec should be banned–it’s stereotyping women.
      I could go on and on and on.
      And that’s exactly what will happen if every parent has a ‘say’ in public education. By the time each person’s views are listened to, decided upon, and action taking, the only book on a reading list will be Mother Goose–whoops, no good, the old lady in the shoe -‘whips’ her children, and ‘ding dong dell, pussy’s in the well,’ some kid throws a cat in a well and kills it? Too violent!

      I think I finally need to ask the question of you and others who believe parents have the right to change or ban books. What are you so AFRAID of? If you are the PRIMARY educator of your children, then the way you’ve raised them and taught them should stand up to any type of book, whether it be the Communist Manifesto or a history lesson and coming of age story about the depression and a dinky circus. Your children shouldn’t be so delicate of mind, that ideas, descriptions, thoughts would bother them.
      That’s if you did your job as primary educator.

      • I’ve been following this conversation along (as I’m the owner of this website) and have only one opinion to offer. I have a young son – here’s my take.
        He gets a list of books to read in advance of the session. If I, as a guiding influence on the lad, see something that I think does not gel with our personal family values, I’ll speak to his teacher and explain that he will not be doing that one- end of story, no websites get to discuss the issue as a smart private decision doesn’t get headlines.
        There’s how I get to influence my boy. Though I see that scenario as being extremely unlikely as I feel he should be exposed to as much of the world as possible (age appropriate).

        Now if some other parent tells me that my son should not be reading a certain book, well I’d be rightly pissed at the nerve of them trying to influence children other than their own. Where I live we have elected board members that we’ve entrusted to influence a group of kids. I accept that they’ll do their best and if I don’t agree I’ll act specifically in regards to my boy. I would never be so arrogant as to think that I know what’s best for your children or to presume to understand your family values.

        – Accept that the school leaders know what’s best and when you disagree make a decision for your child
        – Try an push your values on my kid – shame on you

  5. Michael, I can understand your concern. However, my understanding was the age of the class was in the high school years. I suppose 13 is 7th grade? I would be surprised if this was assigned to a 7th grader, as an elective course. But even so, you would have been able to shield your child from the title by opting out.
    Suppose my 13 year old has been told more about the facts of life and I think she’s capable of handling the story, not only that, but it will expand her horizons? The 2 parents that foisted their will onto the school system took my and my daughter’s option off the table.

    My grandmother was working in a factory at the age of 14. She not only wasn’t allowed to continue being a kid, she essentially was illiterate. We have come a very long way since then, thank goodness, but I think we are doing kids no good by banning a book for everyone. 13 year olds today watch the news, go to movies like Twilight, are exposed to real life all around them. Books such as Water for Elephants exposes when times were extremely tough, jobs were scare, people took work where they could find it, and this one young man joins a ratty circus. The picture of the Depression era, and the extinct circus is one that can educate and entertain. Some 13 year olds would love this book. If your daughter wouldn’t be one of them, I understand, and she can read fantastic books that work for her.
    But why can’t my daughter read the book and derive what she can out of it if she and I think she would? Because another pair of parents made it impossible for her to learn within a class environment.
    One last thing that is always true, unfortunately. Once a stink is raised about a book, kids can’t wait to read it, to see what it’s all about. Too bad they’ll do it without the benefit of an academic environment.

    • Dear Diane:

      We did not “foist” our will upon the town. We complained and they removed the book BEFORE the school board meeting. I used my allowable time at the school board meeting to complain during public comment time. Would you restrict my freedom to do so simply because you disagree with me? Calling my actings some form of bullying is merely a crude way to intimidate others from speaking their minds to the school board. How dare you take such a Fascist position in a blog about free speech!!!

      I hope that you will take the time to amend your posts to reflect the honest and open nature of my complaint to the school board. With a television camera on me and a newspaper reporter in the audience, how could I done anything that was not above board? Moreover, the SAU had received other complaints about Water for Elephants at that time. Thus, your argument that the removal of the book was the work of one family is utterly incorrect.

  6. The gentleman at the Nashua Telegraph, who gave you the excerpt with the “love making,” was not allowed by his publisher to print the pornographic material. To set the record straight, what follows is a bit of it. Children be warned!!! “Oh God, she’s – – – – – in her mouth.” If you think this is acceptable fare for 13 to 17 year olds–at public expense–you probably have a good employment future at the Bedford High School. If you think that there can and should be SOME standard that the books must meet, you aree with me. One of the scenes involves public masturbation by an adult circus prostitute for a group of Johns. Would you object if the character’s age was lowered to eight? Would Water for Elephants still pass your understanding of common decency with that “small” change?

    Please let us all know.

    • Dennis, I’ve read the book. Again, it was an ELECTIVE class, not required. If I feel my 13 to 17–ha–17-as if a 17 year old hasn’t indulged in masturbation–although probably not in public–if my child and I feel he or she is ok with this reality within a book, who are you to deprive my child of that experience? I’m not demanding your child read the book, just let the parents that want their kids to read it and understand about a run down circus in the depression with a few pages of sexual acts described decide for themselves. It’s so funny how everyone is up in arms about the sexual content, no one minds the violence within. Somehow this pretty much sums up our society in general. Violence OK for 13 to 17 year olds, sex, not.

      And please, don’t throw the ‘at public expense’ out there as if that statement somehow strengthens your case. There are a billion things that the public pays for that I dislike, including unnecessary wars. Just because I don’t like my taxes paying for 500 dollar toilet seats for the pentagon, doesn’t mean they will stop buying them. Just because you and a handful of other parents don’t like this book, doesn’t mean it can’t be taught and read by those who do.

      And I think it would be an honor to teach at a school such as Bedford, if they had stood their ground and not allowed one pair of parents dictate to everyone else what should be part of an extra class.

      In closing, lowering the age of the reader does in no way help your case. We aren’t discussing what is proper for an 8 year old to read. Maybe you think of teenagers as 8 year olds, and that is the problem.

      • Dear Diane:

        I asked the following rhetorical question: If the age of the circus prostitute was lowered from 21 or so to 8, would you still argue that the book should be given to high school children in a public school? In other words, does child pornography “ring your bell” or does it not? If so, you agree that books may be removed from use. If the school offers such a book, who would ever challenge it, if not the parents and taxpayers? As far as my right to put my child in a private school, I eagerly await the check from the town to pay for my child in such a setting. I am “free” to leave, but paying for another school–in addition to the high school I am forced by others to pay for–ain’t free.

        I am a stakeholder in the high school, like it or not. If you do not believe this, just check out the rhetoric at graduation day and at budget time. In those moments, these kiddies become “our future” and “what our town is all about.”
        Not only do I have to contribute to their education financially, I will have to live in the world created by the teachers at the school. Do I want to pay the school to teach them concepts that are against Christian and most other moral codes? I am one citizen and I am using my constitutional rights to dissent. Do you have a problem with that? If one is a member of a minority, do you believe that their views should be ignored or shouted down by some majority? If this issue is important to you, write a letter to the Bedford Journal, quoting the oral sex scene, and demanding the reistatement of the book. Tell your neighbors you want circus prostitutes twirling their titties in the literature class at the high school. If you really support the material in the book, you will do this. If not, just keep crying about censorship and hope others will not notice your personal cowardice.

      • Dear Diane:

        You had to delete part of my original post. You could not or would not print it. I was only quoting the book you believe should be read by the children at the Bedford High School. How dare you try to cover up the depravity that you support!!! If those words are not good enough for this adult forum–with a warning beforehand–how on Earth are they good enough for teenagers? Your intellectual dishonesty is stunning, but then, most of the school board members felt that reading the book aloud at the February 14, 2011 meeting was embarassing. But, if you check out the BCTV archives, you will see that that is just what I did. I wanted the world to know what our “educators” had lined up for the kids we are forced-by poverty–to send.

        I will help you correct this now: “Oh God, she is putting the HEAD of my PENIS in her MOUTH!!!” I hope that your previous “censorship” of this fine work does not elicit a new round of outrage. In case this new version is censored again by you, please note, readers, that I have tried twice to write what was actually in the book that Diane praises so highly.

        • Sorry Dennis–I don’t have control over deleting. I did not delete your post–but I do find it interesting your obsession with the “porno” that you feel the compulsion to constantly write, discuss, and expound upon it in a public forum.

          I write for the blog, that’s all, I don’t own it.

          And, gee, what a laugh riot that you find that sentence so horrifying! To teenagers, yet. What are you so afraid of if teenagers read the book? Will they all run off and join a circus? Masturbate? Have oral sex? Except for the first, I think you’d find that most teenagers by 18 have experienced either one or both– at 13, at least know all about it.

          Are you in poverty? Didn’t know that. There’s always home schooling if you want to cut even more costs. That way everyone wins. You get to protect your children from filth, the school gets to teach what you consider to be filth but others find as art, and no one has to argue and become nasty, which you seem to have arrived at.

      • Dear Diane:

        One would have to be a blockhead not to understand the meaning of my rhetorical question about lowering the age of the circus prostitute to eight.

        Having said that, the question still stands unanswered. If Water for Elephants contained child pornography, would you object to your public funds going to provide such material to other people’s kids? If not, why not? Would you be pleased to see such a child porn slinging teacher continue in his or her employment if other parents didn’t mind?

      • “Probably not in public????” Perhaps your children had not yet realized the financial gain that may be had by working in a circus as a prostitute. Now, courtesy of the Bedford New Hampshire High School, they will finally uncover that vital secret. You may want to actually ask your child about this potential but unknown round of public masturbation, show them the public masturbation scene in Water, and have a really nice Hallmark moment.

    • Keep reading but be warned. I have provided the explicit material below about the oral sex scene. This was one scene, amoung others, that graphically described sexual acts in Water for Elephants. I really doubt that the director will film Reese Witherspoon putting the head of a penis in her mouth. Perhaps Diane can start a petition to get the director to do so–in the name of free speech and whatnot.

  7. Dennis, I was going to answer you point by point but quite frankly, your increasing hostility and need to quote the “porno” parts of the book here to somehow make your case, decided me against it. If so worried about the ‘loss of innocence” perhaps you may want to refrain from shouting out the ‘dirty bits’ here, you never know what age people are who read blogs. That, in case you have difficulty understanding, as you did when I made the public masturbation statement, was sarcasm.

    Your freedom of speech and of perverting a book not to your liking into pornography is untouched. You have won the argument–the book is out of your school system, and the way things work today, I’m sure not a single ‘inappropriate’ book whether or not elective, will dare cross the halls.

    Again, and for the last time, what YOU personally deem pornographic does not automatically mean, poof, magic, it IS pornographic. Oddly enough, there are different opinions about the very subject.

    After reading all of your posts, it has become clear that this is not about the school, books, or censorship with you. It is about what you believe morality to be. What YOU think is porno, what YOU believe the school should be teaching, what YOU believe are “Christian” values and morality and anyone who disagrees are just as immoral as the book.

    You don’t have a lock on morality, as a matter of fact, the book if read, which I’m sure you read every page, not just the dirty ones that you feel COMPELLED to repeat here; you would understand the moral tale told within; the complexity of the situation; the love story; the way older people in society are treated; the horrors of the Depression; the way freaks within a cheap traveling circus were discriminated against; how some men can beat their spouses and it is considered OK (of course adultery tops beating, right? in your moral world); the need for a lost young man to find connection to another soul in life; how this need and the elephant trainer’s sorrow combine to create a love that ended in a long long marriage; that cruelty to animals can only go so far before the animal will rebel; that sometimes in order to save your own life and the one you love, you have to sacrifice or ignore another’s; and finally, that an old man’s life can become meaningless stuck in an ‘old age home” and is found again by joining another circus.

    None of these parts of the book are surveyed by you, you dismiss the entire book as porn, and unfit for your 13 year old son. And I agree. I think that if my father thought this book too pornographic for my eyes, I wouldn’t want to be exposed to it because that would mean I was so sheltered and kept in cotton wool, that I wouldn’t be able to discuss with the teacher and other students the immoralities within the book without blanching at the prostitute’s actions and fleeing in fear that my innocence will be lost at someone masturbating, which of course I never ever indulge in, at 13. And I certainly wouldn’t know about oral sex because none of my fellow student friends have discussed it ad nauseum in gym or study hall.

    No, your son should not read the book. My daughter should, and if it were offered and elective, I would have signed the sheet and been happy she would view a different time, lives, circumstances, characters that despite a few sexual descriptions would enrich her understanding of many aspects of life, including recognizing that not all people are as moral or good as she, and that in reading about them, she would understand that behavior like some characters exhibited was wrong. The entire idea of reading a book and the discussion with a professional that follows is to explain, explore, and understand what went on within. That’s what teachers are for, that’s what public schools are for, and what they aren’t, are Christian, or any other state sponsored religion, despite your desperate need for them to be.

    And, in closing, I’d appreciate it if you would stop taking your rhetoric to nastier heights by alluding to Nazis, everyone’s latest catchphrase, be on the left or right, and calling names, such as coward. Whatever that means.
    It demeans your argument and calls into question your moral values.

    • Buy her a copy 0of Penthouse. Have her read the letters. It will be a faster way for you to enrich her. Also, I will eagerly await a request in the Bedford Journal by you for the reinstatement of the book. I want you to explain, publically, why the public school give such explicit depictions to their students.

      Finally, you remain a blockhead in my book, as well as a coward. You initally failed to understand my question and you have ignored it in your diatribe againt me. Since you have not been brave enought to answer my central question, which I will pose again.

      What if the age of the tit twirling circus prostitute was lowered to the age of eight? Do you understand my question? I am asking you if you would seek to remove the book if it contained such child pornography? Yes or No?

      If you would remove the book based on a common moral compass, you agree with my premise that there will be times when a book is inappropriate for children. If not, you would promote and ask others to pay for, child pornography in the school. There is a principle here that I am seeking for you to clarify. Is the rule never to censor–even child porn-or is it to sometimes censor. Take a stand, will you???

      • Dennis, if you can’t be civil in discussion, how do you expect to win anyone over to your argument?

        What is it that you seek? The world to agree with your personal moral compass? You think if you bully and push and call names you’ll win friends and influence people?

        I thought I’d made it clear that your point isn’t porno, but a moral and political agenda that you want to foist upon your school system. Your argument above is meaningless, and your demanding manner is offensive.
        Your problem is with your lack of control over a school system that you have to pay for and send your children to, one that doesn’t hold the same so called moral or Christian principles you claim.

        Your insistent, angry text doesn’t make your argument stronger.

        • I take it you give up. I hope that you will cease your attempts to influence others with your faulty and blind thinking. You will not answer the question about lowering the age because you cannot. It is pathetic and, actually surprising given your other skills. First you cannot understand the question and then you outright refuse to answer it. No, I take it back, you lack the courage to even refuse to answer the question.

        • My question is so simple and I now pose it to you gently and softly. I do so now for fear of frightening you away with the tone of my words. After all, why fight my ideas when you can just complain about my tone.

          Now, having put all of your fears to rest about my tone, I will ask you a fifth time.

          If we change the age of the circus prostitute to the age of eight, would you still give the book out at the high school?

          • Dear Mr Taliban ( oops I meant Taylor )

            I am thankful everyday for the wisdom of our founding fathers. Yes, seperation of church and state ensures us zeolots like yourself are kept out of power. You, sir are an idiot, but I will willingly defend your right to be so.

            Sallam alykum, my brother

            Eric B

    • While I do not dismiss the entire book, it contains pornographic sections. The story itself is fine and would have been ok with me if the various sex scenes had not been added by the author. I think they add nothing to the story and make it unsuitable for children to read. If the scenes were filmed faithfully in a movie, the movie would be x rated. My kids are too young to watch an x rated movie. If you want porn for your daughter, take her to an adult movie. Live as you believe in your heart. She’ll thank you for that someday. Perhaps she’ll work in that industry with your support and blessing. Just think of the doors you will open up to her: the freedom she could enjoy as, perhaps, a circus prostitute. Give her Water for Elephants and free her mind. With public funding for porn in Bedford, can pole dancing classes for credit in the high school be far behind? I think you may be on the cusp of a new trend here in Bedford. Embrace it and go for it!!!

      • The problem again is, you, you you. YOU don’t think the scenes add anything. Too bad for anyone who disagrees, right. As evidenced by the next sentances. The rest of your post is beneath contempt, and as an upstanding moral Christian, you should be ashamed at the nastiness and complete lack of control over yourself you seem to have here. Either return to civility, or quit this forum.

    • I am curious, what do you think these “professionals” would say to the class about the public masturbation scene? How can I possibly trust them to really delve into the motivations behind the actions of the Johns? Would my son be subject to some sort of moral discussion of this behavior? Am I to leave it to chance as to how such a discussion would be led? What if the teacher chose to ignore the scene and just hope the students didn’t mind. Don’t they all have a right to discuss every single thing in a book assigned to them? Why read it if it is not worthy of being learned? Are you saying that the students have to read the garbage to get to the good parts? If so, are there not any other books about circus life that do not include references to people putting penises in their mouth? Have your reading lists been so full of pornography that you cannot think of any that are clean by most standards of decency?

      • Has anyone ever called to your attention your need for control?

        How can you be sure, how would the discussion be led etc etc. Perhaps a career as a high school teacher is something you should consider.

        As you know full well, I believe the entire book is fine for kids whose parents think they want their kids to read it. You really have a problem with penis’s being in mouths.

        Again, the insults.

        Dennis, may I ask, why are you here? At this forum? What is the agenda here? To piss me off? To change my mind? Or to just insult and call names until you have satisfied yourself that you said your piece? Because the constant badgering text of your posts are going no where, and honestly, I’m tired of reading and responding to it.

        So, if possible, fling your last fling, and move on to all the other blogs that are horrified by your actions. I have seen quite a few.

        • I take it that you fold and cannot continue to argue. Nevertheless, I await your response to my one central guestion.


          YES OR NO????





          • I have used all caps on the previous post because this is the third time I have asked the question. Failure on your part to answer it confirms me in my belief that you are a cowardly leftist who would poison my kids while trying to look good to yourself and others.

            Answer me, and I will fire back only on that question, win or lose. Change the topic to avoid the question, and you have flown a white flag.

            The insults are there to repay you for your personal attacks and to hopefully remind you of your protective position as a parent to your daughter. America does not need a new generation of pole dancers and prostitutes. We do not need underage pregnancies. We do not need school handing out condoms and telling girls how to kill their babies. Water for Elephants is just a symptom of a much larger problem. How about a book where the boys treat the girls with dignity and the girls remain virgins till marriage? Have you even read a book like that?

          • Wow. Just wow. So sex is offensive but calling someone’s kid a whore is okay to do? WOW.

            How about this, then. We’ll ban this book for talking about sex, and we’ll ban the Bible for talking about prostitutes. WIN-WIN. Right?

    • The adultery is celebrated. The beating is not. The book is a morality tale, in part, where the wife and elephant beater gets killed by his victim. If the wife beating was celebrated, I would have objected to the book on that basis. As far as adultery, that is more of a Christian ethos and is not one generally shared by the public–except as an issue of utility for society.

      • Oh for heavens sake. Adultery with a woman who is being beaten by her husband is being celebrated? And, please, Christianity, was not the first, nor will be the last to deplore adultery. I believe that the Jewish faith had something to say about it too, correct. Like stoning someone who should cheat–a current morality of some Islamics.
        Your vision of society is quite jaded.

        • I agree with you about there being other moral codes such as that of the Jews. My point is that the adulterous relationship is the love relationship in the book. The hero gets the girl. It is adulterous, but I can live with my kid reading about that, not with the graphic scenes.

          Also, you seem to want to take some high moral ground about my insulting tone. So be it. Let’s just get to the point.

          If we lower the age of the circus prostitute to eight years of age, would you object to the book.

          State your opinion, and with all the courtesy I can muster, I will debate you, that is unless you agree with me that the book should then be censored. You will have accepted that my premise is legal and correct, though you disagree with my application of that premise.

    • Diane:

      When will you stop with the euphemisms. I objected to the depiction of masturbation in the book. Whether done privately or publically, a graphic description of such sexual acts has no place in a book for public school students. Was this a sex ed class or a literature class? If you were teaching sex ed, would you get actors to do live perfomances? I mean, if you want to teach, should’nt the students get the best possible materials? My point is that, at this point, the Bedford High School is not a sexual training academy. It is a place where students from all backgrounds can learn in a non-hostile environment. They all pay into the system and so, should be protected from the depravity of the adult world. A soccer coach, for example, should not use expletives when talking to his students. But, maybe in your twisted world, he should. I expect the teachers to respect my right to parent my own kid and to NOT foist upon them their liberal leanings or their conservative ones. My kid is there to learn, not to be indoctrinated. His innocence is his possession, and I will not allow people like you to damage it. You do not understand the limited nature of freedom of speech. Read Ann Marie Banfield’s March 31 article on Water for Elephants in the Bedford Journal. Meanwhile, I will look forward to either a public letter of apology or a letter demanding the school give back the “penis in the mouth” scene to your precious daughter in the Bedford Journal. Are you a woman or a mouse? Do you really support your views-without any euphemisms applied? Or are you a coward who can only come to the edge of it so as not to embarass herself publically.

      • I’ve no idea what euphemisms you are talking about. You are beyond the point of rational discussion. You keep expanding the true point of the discussion to include exaggerations such as live sex, and bad mouth coaches. And again, the name calling and obnoxious baiting.
        Are you so unsure of your own child’s strong morality and innocence that even if other parents don’t see the book they way you do, that you need to protect him by making sure the class and book are completely banned?

        Stop with the labeling. It only proves the point that this isn’t about your child, or anyone’s child, but about your own political and moral agenda.

        And for God’s sake, quit the silly ‘are you a man or a mouse’ crap. This is a blog–I don’t owe you, your ideas, thoughts, morals a damn thing other than my opinion here. And that you’ve have plenty of, and it has gotten neither of us anywhere.

        • I take it that you will not be writing a request to the Bedford Journal demanding the return of graphic sex scenes. I hope that you will see that, by supporting only a euphemized version of the book, you are supporting giving the trashy scenes to the kids. You hide behind words like “coming of age,” when you should be trumpeting words like “Oh God, I’m (coming.” I hope that you can see that there is a world of difference between the idea of sex and the graphic description of it.

          I consider you a coward not to have the fortitude to come out publically–quoting the pornography in the actual text–as you demand for the book to be reinstated. You are willing to talk all around the matter, but you will not get your hands dirty. For the book to be used, all of it must be used. Therefore, you must defend each and every scene in the book–and do it fairly so that all readers of your coming letter to the editor know EXACTLY what is in the book and why it is ALL good for the kids to read. You could refuse to do that and talk in generalities like so many other cowardly supporters of this trash. Or, you could be a woman of your convictions–even if it costs you at the bridge or country club. Even if other mother look at you funny and wonder what is wrong with you. Some of them, and you may not know who, are not giving porn to their daughters.

          Are you brave enough to take that risk?

          • LOL, LOL, LOL, I had to quickly respond to this, the bridge or country club?? Ha ha ha, what? now this is a class struggle?

            Again, no more, Dennis, see below for reasons.

          • Mr Taylor – you never bothered to ask but it wasn’t Diane that removed your original words, it was me. I own this blog and on a whim I dashed out a few words (for no real reason other than it’s my site and I can do as I please). I just wanted to quickly say that I count myself among the “cowardly supporters”…I also have a young son and would object strongly if you were the one selecting his reading material.

            By the way – it’s by my good grace that any of your words stay on this site – hmmm should I censor you ? maybe.

      • Dear Bruce:

        I appreciate your post. I did not know that it was you who censored the words from the book. I take it that you would like to threaten me off of your blog, and I wonder how that would square with what I assume would be your belief in open debate. I have stated to Diane the logical consequences that I see from giving my daughter porn passages to read. I would abandon my role as her protector by doing so. I asked her to consider why she would use such a passage with her daughter.

        I am staying with the blog until I get a clear answer from Diane as to what she would do if the age of the circus prostitute was changed to eight.
        Would she support the use of such a book in the school?

        I hope that she will debate that point with me, and I will attempt to do so without further insult, though that may depend on the nature of her answer. If she comes out in favor of giving child porn to the kiddies, I think she will have made quite an eloquent point.

        I appreciate your willingnes to print the actual words for the book in the interest of fair disclosure of the issues. You have been amoung the only sites to do so. Everyone else has euphemized the scenes in order to protect their readers or to make the supporters of the book seem more reasonable.

    • Diane:

      You stated that I felt compelled to let the world see the pornographic parts of the book. You felt “compelled” to censor those very words–from the book you support. You would have the school use it, despite those words and others like them. This is your right as a voter in Bedford. I have the right to argue my point of view. What is amazing to me is that there are actually people like you out there who would buy pornographic passages for their children to read. I am amazed, angered, and saddened by your blindness. You actually believe that this material–since your child will read all of it–is good for the kiddies. There has to be some benefit for the kids in everything they do in school, else why do it at all? Therefore, learning that girls have threesomes with boys must be good for their growth. If the idea of that is not bad enough, you want the school to show the threesome. Is this really what you believe? I hope you can understand why I should treat your ideas with such disgust. I hope that you will either embrace these ideas fully with your family, or else you will repent of this insanse way of raising your daughter. This is how I see it, unless, of course, you are actually training her for the happy life of the prostitute, and are using Water for Elephants to get her used to her future work environment. There are a lot of vocational opportunites at BHS and I applaud your working the system.

      It is really hard for me to say which direction you are heading. I hope that you will really consider your personal values and how they related to giving your daughter graphich descriptions of an oral sex threesome between two prostitutes and a boy. If you can wrap your righteousness around that concept, I would say that your moral compass is perfectly fine and will suit your daughter well n her upcoming life of adultery, depravity, and sex business employment. This is what I see for her, unless she can make something of herself IN SPITE of your tutelage.

      • Dennis, this is the last of our conversations because I believe your true face has finally shown through, and it’s quite scary.
        You sound like an evangelist. With a sexual addiction he can’t control so goes on rants about what he considers to be porn.
        Sort of a Jimmie Swaggart.
        Again, not going to respond to the nasty drivel you think is a good argument for banning books. Attacking anyone who disagrees with you means they are depraved human beings who will raise prostitutes. Good luck with that attitude in life.

        Words like ‘repent’ ‘righteousness, moral compass, tell me that I’m not dealing with a concerned parent, but a religious fanatic.
        And that’s when I stop.
        If you want to continue to preach, be aware I will not be baited into responding anymore, and that as far as you and I go in terms of discussion, there is none.

        • Diane:

          Thank you for leaving the battle field. You have lost. You cannot come up with a suitable response to my question without losing the face you desperately seek to preserve. I hope that you will live your porn promoting life to its fullest until such a time as you are able to see the depravity you are teaching your children and helping the schools of Bedford, NH promote.

          I see no need to continue posting here as I appear to have ended your blind attacks. I will continue to argue with you here if you continue to attack me or to promote the book Water for Elephants on this blog.

          Again, you have lost and I thank you for the opportunity to speak into your life. I hope that you will change your ways with your children.

          • Diane:

            I’ll check back to see if you would like to continue this debate. And yes, my family has been victimized by this. Our son’s innocence was nearly damaged by this book. No, he is not a complete innocence, but he does not need threesomes coming at him in Literature class. The school only did the right thing. We have to take garbage from people like you who would put it back if they had the power. We had to expose ourselves in order to get the community to do the right thing.

            I hope that you will do the right thing with your daughter, all debate aside.

            I have seen girls come out of the high school dances, falling out of their clothes, and grabbing the nearest guy to support their drunkenness. I hope that you will do everything you can to teach your daughter the right path.

  8. EXCEPT no permission slip was ever sent to us, my Daughter, (before you say, she didn’t give the slip) was actually the one who pointed it out to me and the sexual nature in this book.

    • Ok. Were any of the other students given permission slips, and only your daughter was missed? Are you saying that *no one* received permission slips? Even if your daughter didn’t received a permission slip, she must have known it was an elective course, you can’t take a course that is elective, without ‘electing’ to do so, correct? How old is your daughter? What grade was she in at the time. She must have read the book to find the passages and since the class was cancelled, that means she read it on her own. Was your daughter made uncomfortable by the specific areas that she pointed out, and did you and your daughter discuss the passages to further clarify? In the end, the question remains the same, do you think it is your right to dictate to other parents what their children are allowed to read and study? 

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