View Full Version : Kansas - land of the repressed, home of the idiots

01-11-2005, 01:12 PM
Well - Kansas (my next-door neighbor) has done it again. Not only are there raging debates continuing across the state (or is that the buckle of the Bible belt) over teaching the theory of evolution in public schools (they teach creationism - in PUBLIC SCHOOLS), now one of the wealthiest (and one would think most educated and enlightened) suburbs' school district (Blue Valley) has a huge bruhaha going on about required reading for honors-level communications classes (English). They had a huge public meeting the other evening covered by all the TV stations and I couldn't believe what I was seeing in 2005!

So-called well-educated, well-to-do adults pissing and moaning about the vulgar nature of the literature being assigned. They've even set up a Web site www.kcclass.org trying to gain support for their witch hunt. Check out the reading list these folks thinks is so horrible http://classkc.org/badwords.php . (I've read many, many of these books both as part of literature classes in high school and college, as well as for personal enjoyment. Many of them have been featured on Oprah's book club and the New York Times bestseller lists. And many others, like Catcher in the Rye are considered classics.

Meanwhile - they have a list of "good" books the kids will "miss out on" while reading the trash listed above. http://www.classkc.org/goodbooks.php

Yes, there are some excellent pieces of literature in the "good" books list. There are also some abjectly Pollyanna, out-of-date and irrelevant titles too, that most kids today would find boring, stupid and completely out of sync with what they experience. I personally believe literature ought challenge and grow our knowledge our beliefs, etc. I have the same "moral" objection to people who homeschool their children to protect them from the evils of the world. What happens when those kids have to make a life in the evil (real) world? What kind of values do they have about people and ideas different or contrary to their own? How do they handle the workplace where there is a vast diversity of people?

My other belief, having a 20-year-old who went thru the public schools and a 13-year-old currently attending is that none of the words in these books are foreign to kids. Even kids who attend private, religiously-affiliated schools hear and often liberally use curse words of all types. Even dropping the "F-bomb." Indeed, standing in the average high school hallway during passing time would probably challenge even my liberal sensibilities.

I guess the reason I hate this kind of thing so much is that I fear it creates generations of narrow minds. I also find myself somewhat embarrassed (as a person who loves words and literature) that this kind of protest by supposedly intelligent people just reinforces the country's view of Kansas City as some backwater, one-horse town full of ignorant boobs. Certainly I respect the rights of individual parents to have a say in their child's education. However, it scares me when I see people jump on the bandwagon of some misguided effort by a few to shame educators, their children and the parents of other children by making pronouncements on what is proper for every child.

And finally - my guess is that in this particular suburb, most parents are college educated. They should know that for high school students who are college-bound, exposure to literature and subject matter of this level (honors classes) will help prepare them for higher education. They themselves probably read many of these books - and if they didn't, my sympathies go out to them. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings was an amazingly enlightening and empowering book to me - and I read it just for pleasure during a summer break when I was in college.

The Blue Valley school board won't ban the books during the school year. Instead they will decide during the summer. And as a final FYI - even kids who are alumni of the school and now in college or recent college grads testified how much exposure to these books and the classroom discussions helped them immeasurably in college.

So - what do you think? Burn 'em, ban 'em or read 'em?

01-11-2005, 01:40 PM
What I find interesting is that a lot of the objectionable words and phrasing are taken out of context and without knowledge of the themes of the book. To say that orgasm and suicide are major themes of The Awakening is pure ignorance. The Awakening is actually a powerful novel about a woman struggling against patriarchal society, and attempting to find her own identity, and all the blocks our social order puts in her way.

The "goodbooks" list IS full of good books. Chock full. Honestly? those books should be taught as well. You can't appreciate the place you are without knowing from whence you came. You know?

but I think you're right, in the main. It would all depend on how the books are taught, what the thematic unit presents as the core knowledge to be extracted from each book, but I see nothing wrong with the books I recognized.

01-11-2005, 01:53 PM
My husband has for YEARS gotten pissed off about Kansas and Creationism... He is a VERY firm believer in evolution, and their way of limiting access to education in any way pisses him off royally.

THIS pisses ME off royally (not to say that I wasn't annoyed enough about the whole creationism thing)... While I may not have been thrilled with much of the subject matter of books I was given to read as a child, I still firmly believe that they needed to be read. And how can we learn about the tough things in life unless we are given exposure to them?

I have always believed that knowledge is power. Give as much knowledge as humanly possible to your children, and you arm them for their futures that they will be fighting for.

I don't believe in banning something that can give my (eventual) child the tools s/he needs to survive in the world.

My husband just made a good point to me tho. He's against requiring a kid to read anything that wouldn't pass a movie's R or NC-17 rating. He's not into actively discouraging kids to read anything, but if it's above what a movie would term "rated R", then he'd rather the kid wait until s/he's in college and can choose for her/himself.

01-11-2005, 02:08 PM
more specifically, i'm against requiring any kid to read that stuff (I personally wouldn't, given the choice), but at the same time, i'm not going to tell a kid they can't (except maybe my own).

for example, if in a "choose a book to do a book report on" assignment, those books should not be banned from a kid's choices.

but requiring any kid to read about man-boy sexuality should be limited to latin classes (gotta love them romans) and (when discussing religion in politics) the current catholic church's scandals. :)

[as an aside, i don't consider my support of evolution "belief" aside from the interpretation that I *believe* science to be the correct process for interpreting facts and weeding out incorrect knowledge, and that the evidence for evolution supports extremely well the theories of Darwin, as modified and clarified by successors including Gould and Dawkins.

as a matter of my faith, I believe that evolution and christianity are entirely compatible in every way (except extreme literalism), but there's nothing scientific about that. ]

01-11-2005, 03:15 PM
I can see parents wanting to "protect" their children...however, what will happen when they are thrust into the real world without being exposed to situations at all....at least in literature they get controlled exposure and have parents or teachers to discuss any disturbing issues written....once they are out of the house the will unfortunately experience these things live and in person without any previous discussion or knowledge

01-11-2005, 03:32 PM
Kansas doesn't currently require teaching creationism (they never did, just tried to make it an option for the local school boards) but the new conservative majority in the state school board is talking about encouraging teaching "intelligent design". Will somebody please smack that camel on the nose before he tracks sand in the tent?

As far as protecting the kyds goes, I have made the acquaintance of a couple of sheltered homeschooled young men who may come out to our local Faire next season. I can just see them now, eyes big and round. "Aspen, there are pagans out here!" "Yes, dear, and the secret to everybody getting along is that nobody makes a big deal about it." [0] It will certainly be an educational experience for them.


[0] Needless to say, we haven't had a conversation about the meaning of my pretty little pendant; the one I refer to as my "sneaky pentacle".

Adriana Rose
01-11-2005, 03:44 PM
Ok this is just a whole bunch of people thinking that they are right. Let them take their little time machines back to the 50's and just stop grumping at the classics that thier parents thought were good and so on.

If they don't like the way that the public schools are teaching I'm sure that there is a nice Cristian school out there for thier kiddies.

Also the schools here in Colorado are kinda sketchy about teaching evolution. It's herd not to step on toes. In my Biology class I got in a debate about all of the theolgy stuff with one of the kids in the class. It's hard to make sure every one is happy with stuff like that.

Oh and tell those folks who want to can the classics to say Hi to June Cleaver for me.

Just my 2 cents

(please don't eat me)

01-11-2005, 04:26 PM
I certainly think kids should be exposed real world situations, but as was pointed out, why should "print" be different from "moving pictures" or even "still pictures"? If the things that make a movie "R" rated (17 and over) (or worse), why should a book with the same language and situations be okay? If kids should be REQUIRED to read books with these themes and language, why not require Penthouse and the movie Caligula (sp?)? Why bother with movie ratings? And while the kids certainly know and use those words (perhaps even more so in the Catholic schools :D ), and know about those situations, that doesn't necessarily mean that those books are acceptable as required reading. And it isn't always about "foul" language. I didn't find "Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde" to be an appropriate book for 6th graders when it was assigned to my daughter last year (by the same teacher that assigned "Beloved" to the 8th grade class - :shock: ). My daughter no longer goes to that school (for that and other reasons).

I have a daughter who's a sophomore in college (and attended an all girl catholic high school), a son who is a sophomore in an all boy catholic high school, and a daughter in 7th grade in a parish school. I read voraciously, always have, always will. I encourage my kids to read. I seldom tell (or told) them, "you are not allowed to read this particular book," but I may suggest that I don't feel its appropriate to their age level just as I would certain movies. My son this year has read "Cold Mountain," "Beloved," and "Tom Sawyer". I have no real problem with them - I know my son. But . ...

I have a friend whose son is 16, in honors and AP classes, is an Eagle Scout. My friend is a former Sci-Fi con / ren fest person and she is by no means a prude. While she doesn't swear too intensly, she certainly does swear. Her son reprimands her everytime he hears it, and when talking about having gone to dinner theater told me they saw "Darn Yankees." His mother said, the name of the show is Damn Yankees. He replied that he doesn't use that word. Some of the books on that list that he was required to read made him very uncomfortable.

As an aside, I find it somewhat ironic that language and situations (no where near the content of some of the books listed) were considered too far over the line on these boards for not being PG-13 enough is considered great literature when put into a book and offered in a class for junior high and high school students.

My .02.


01-11-2005, 04:49 PM
i think the biggest part of the problem is the contradiction at play -- here you are having to read books with these words in them, and yet you can't actually discuss the words or their use in class except at an extremely abstract level (and thus, inapplicable to future discussions / applications).

the main focus of english classes isn't "exposure" to these materials. its to learn to write by examples. most people forget that. all the other cultural aspects that one gets out of english classes are merely examples of how references, strong descriptions, first-person prose, metaphorical speech, etc etc; they're merely tools that are to be used to enhance your own compositions.

your final grade in an English class is a matter of how well you express yourself, whether its original composition or essay-response on a test requiring some degree of analytical skills. can you read through the vocabulary, grammar, plot, and attitude to get to the real meaning behind an author's work (and express that in an essay), and can you use vocabulary, grammar, plot, and attitude in (sometimes strictly "creative") composition to appropriately express a point.

in that context, excessive profanity and sexual descriptions really have no place. you can't use them in your own compositions (at those grade levels) without getting in trouble, so what was the damned point?

primarily exposing kids to "shock-value" art isn't something the schools need to do. there's plenty of it already in our real media and "culture" (if you can call the crap out there that).

i don't "value" art as some call it today. I value craft. i would much rather start the revolution back to true craftsmanship in writing, just as i would in music, rather than pushing for sales and attention due to intentional controversy.

somethings are remembered for their controversy. the better things are remembered far longer for their quality.

better to intentionally teach our kids quality; they'll find out about the rest regardless of what we do.

01-11-2005, 06:04 PM
What great, thought-provoking responses - especially about the movie rating aspect. This got me to thinking about just what constitutes cursing or swearing. So I did some research and found the following analysis:

3rd Commandment; Verse 7: "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain."

This is another commandment where religious liberals believe that only the first 13 word phrase was in the original text. This verse originally meant that one is not to use the name of God for "any frivolous or malicious purpose or in magic."

Until recently, the phrase "taking God's name in vain" related to contracts. They were sworn "in the name of the Lord". If the terms of a contract were broken, the offending party was said to have taken "the Lord's name in vain." Again, the Westminster Larger Catechism interprets this Commandment broadly to include believing in false doctrines or opposing God's truth.

Today, it is often mistakenly interpreted as prohibiting swearing. This has nothing to do with its original meaning.

Conveniently, I guess, this is the interpretation I've long held - that shits, craps, asses, hells and even our "beloved" f-bomb don't really violate any tenants of most of the major religions - including the big three - Christianity, Judiasm and Islam. Perhaps I've used this interpretation as justification for my own use of words popularly considered cursing or swearing. There have been times I've cussed like a longshoreman. These words don't have any particular sting to them for me - no shock value - except the F-bomb.

Of late, I've done my best to clean up language indiscretions - mostly because after hearing the F-bomb used as a verb, a noun, and an adjective all in the same sentence - especially in a lot of popular culture (music, films, tv) I just think we ought not limit our vocabulary to about 12 overused words. Simply put, it makes people look stupid and most people I know are anything but.

I've also come to believe that taking the Lord's name in vain includes invoking the word G-d in our everyday language in a non-reverent, non-worshipping way ... like, "Oh my G-d, did you see what SHE was wearing?" I've begun using "gosh" or "goodness" in place of that because of my personal spiritual beliefs. And I don't use other "socially-objectionable" words as much as I once did because I want to keep a professional demeanor at work - well, as much as I can ... LOL

But I don't think it's hypocritical of me to not want books with "vulgar words" banned from schools when they're age-appropriate (and I believe juniors and seniors in high school are generally of appropriate age), while at the same time not wanting the threads on this board to dissolve into mindless banter for the sake of upping post counts - or at the price of flaming and insulting posters. It's not the words that bother me - it's the context and spirit in which they're used.

At the risk of sounding snobbish - I just think just about everyone who posts here (whether I agree with their opinions or not) are intelligent people, capable of thoughtful, thought-provoking dialogue and debate. What I personally objected to before The Snipe (webmistress/goddess) made all these wonderful changes and upgrades - was the threadjacking of topics the original poster meant for intelligent, thoughtful exchange and turning them into sophomoric gigglefests. I also objected to personal attacks on posters who expressed opinions that were apparently contrary to a select few people; followed by more flames induced by some pack mentality that once someone was attacked - they were fair game for the rest of the pack. But that's done and put to rest - I merely resurrected the issue to explain my view.

I guess the subject of words - verbal or written - for me is the context in which they are used. Are so-called cuss words absolutely necessary in some pieces of literature or theatre? I'm not qualified to make that call for anyone but myself - and even then my answer will vary - gratuitous (or excessive) vulgar language - I don't want to read it or hear it ... but some writers, actors, and artists contend it's crucial because it's reality - or at least their reality. By the same token - I don't want great pieces of literature and art sanitized to the point they've lost their meaning and significance. Sometimes those words are necessary to convey an emotion or make a point.

I guess what it boils down to for me is personal choice. My solution would be to offer students a choice of reading material without penalty. But I would hate to prohibit students from the experiencing the joys of literature because of a few words dubbed vulgar by people who probably haven't even read the books in question. In my opinion - true obscenities are not the words people speak - they are the hideous actions and misdeeds people won't dare speak about.

Mairi Ulfsdottir
01-11-2005, 06:32 PM
Ah, where is Lenny Bruce when you need him!
And his philosophy (for those who may not know) was that by making these word so taboo, they are given power, if they were used they would lose their power of being "bad." (Although it is nice to have a really foul word to yell out when you need one, ie: hit your hand with a hammer, etc.)Do these people in Kansas honestly think that their children will never hear/read these words unless the school system introduces them, through literature!!!???? I also agree, that the list of "bad" books is deceptive, in that they look like they are only about the items/words that are on the list. It reminds me of the "Simpson's" episode where the school was banning the statue of David, because it portrayed a naked man!

As far as evolution goes, it's really quite simple. God created evolution...

01-11-2005, 07:48 PM
blasphemy is more complicated than just saying God ****(-it) or variations on that ("Jesus H. Christ on a popcycle stick" -- Wargames).

the real heart of its meaning, as Christ interprets it, is public displays. God knows what's in your heart, so to so loudly proclaim your faith (whether genuine or not) is to use your faith, your God, as a *vanity*, a decoration -- THAT is what God wanted stopped. In context, there was in Exodus at the time of the Golden Calf (when the original tablets were smashed) a mass declaration of faith and overtly declared piety in ways that God decided were harmful to the people and to himself. It was inappropriate, and ingenuine. So the commandment came to correct that and actually drive people to put their faith into the proper perspective in their lives. (the recognition of this is in Ex 33, when the people, "removed their ornaments".)

Time and time again, Christ in the Gospels corrects those who only describe their faith by what others see, to lead them to recognize that the genuine faith is in their hearts, which God alone sees.

[my unsupported theory, which i first conceived about 12 years ago, follows]

as for profanity, well every culture has words describing more "earthly" things. what makes English different is the 2-family origin of it. English has french-originated words for concepts ("dung", "pork"), and german-originated words for the same ("shit", "swine"). Now, if you're some uppity french nobleman ruling this damned country 900 years ago, and you want to insult some other uppity french nobleman ruling this damned country 900 years ago, would you call him by some uppity-french term?

hell, no.

you'd put down your target by equating him with the common term, the "vulgar" term, used by the lower-class peasents you rule.

the result is that "vulgar", as used in referring to the saxon swine by french-speaking normans, came to mean more than just common; it became a term of denegration that was never in its original Latin meaning for "common".

so these words were just the vulgar words you only used if you wanted to get your point across with a little more emotion, a little more insult, than the alternatives.

how the hell the church-types latched onto them as blasphemy, i'll never know. but they latched onto alcohol as being a "bad thing" in spite of Christ being very supportive of social drinking in the Gospels, so anything's possible with them.

01-11-2005, 07:49 PM
DB, I did not mean to imply that the last comment was aimed at anyone specifically, and certainly not you. And I am not attempting (PLEASE NO :shock: ) to resurrect that either - and I didn't chime in either way, I saw both (all 3? all 4? more? hmm) sides of that issue. But it is handy for making a point. Content of the threads were at issue just as much (if not more) than the issue of threadjackings. Simply that if some of the things that were objected to on this board were because "what if a child saw it", then what makes the same (or more graphic - not "worse") content acceptable as course study because its in a book and "someone" decided it had literary merit? It may very well have literary merit, but it may not be appropriate for my 13 or 14 or 15 year old. I do believe that by junior or senior year of high school it becomes less of an issue. But I did/do not let my 14 y/o daughter or son watch "R" rated movies where I had control over it, why should they be required to read a book that I think falls in the same category?

As for not using the words because they are "swear" or "curse" words, you're right, technically some aren't: s*** and f*** are two. But they are generally considered societal no-no's because they're "vulgar." And they do, sometimes, have their place. And sometimes they're over-used. But while my child may know those words, it doesn't mean he/she should necessarily be subjected to them in the form of "art" or "literature."

I don't advocate total censorship (books should never be removed from libraries) and the books themselves aren't bad - in fact I enjoyed most of them. But yes, I do "censor" what my kids see, to some extent. While I've seen "Caligula" and "Clockwork Orange," I'm probably not letting my 15 y/o watch them anytime soon. Everytime my insignificant other wants to let my son watch a movie that I don't think is appropriate for him at this time, he tries the whole "censorship" thing on me. I point out that as his parent while he is a minor, what he sees or doesn't is MY responsibility. Once he is an "adult," he can watch whatever he wants or is comfortable with, what he then feels is appropriate for him. Until then, it is my call. Except for his required reading at school, apparently. (I also want to say that I've never complained about reading assignments, except for the "Dr. Jekyl" mentioned above. If nothing else, having his mommy not let him read the assigned book would probably do more harm than anything I think might be an issue in the book.)

Well, I think I had another point, but my day here is over (almost 2 hours ago) and I want to go home. :)


01-11-2005, 09:15 PM
Da Baroness, you asked:
Burn 'em, ban 'em or read 'em?

In two words, my response is read 'em.

Knowledge is power, and knowledge is gained through experience, including reading such works that expose us to a life or experiences that one would never have in reality. However, as an English Major, I will definitely admit to having a biased opinion! :)

As a mother, I understand the comments regaring the age-appropriate nature of the books, movies, etc., and certainly support ensuring that children read age-appropriate materials. Please don't interpret my remarks as believing in a free-for-all of bad taste and sexual content for children! That is not my intent.

However, as an individual living in a diverse world, I have an inherent dislike and abhorrence for banning books or people if they are "different" or disliked by a certain group. As a people, we cannot afford this. I firmly believe that banning free thought and expression leads to prejudice and hate. Books were banned in Hitler's Germany to ensure that free and radical thought would be obliterated. While I certainly don't compare the "nasty book list" to the book-burings of a dictatorship, I do think that banning these books or ideas from a library or school can lead to discriminatory and narrow thought.

At one time, many of the books we hold dear, and appear on the "good list" were thought to be "bad." During the Renaissance, Lutheran texts were banned, and the possession of them could be punished by burning of the owner - not the book! The Bible itself has been banned in various places throughout history.

One man's banned book is another man's gospel. I would hate to see anyone - school district, government, or religion, make that distinction for me.

01-12-2005, 10:48 AM
Again - I'm blown away by the thoughtful responses here and THIS is exactly the way it used to be here and what I missed so much. I love the sharing of thoughts, ideas, opinions ... even if I don't agree or only partially agree ... it still challenges my thinking and my beliefs.

Keep the responses coming goils and bouyz - they're terrific, as are the people who express them! You've made my day!

And thanks to our wonder Snipe for redesigning the Web site so everyone gets what they yearn for!!!!!


01-12-2005, 03:58 PM
Is it just me...or are the majority of "okay" books written by white middle-class (or at least middle class with no skin color) folk? And the bad books are written by those on the cusp of society, or colored, etc.?

If so, it seems to me that what they want to do is create cultural incest...only read about your own experiences and ones you're likely to come in contact with in your current environment.

How are kids going to learn if they don't read about that kind of thing? How are they going to be able to deal with thoughts of suicide or the suicide of a friend if they don't read about it? I know if I was a kid that age again, I wouldn't turn to an adult to understand. Hell, most adults don't know how to handle that sort of thing affectively. Reading it played out in a book might help them realize that it's okay to feel that way.

Frankly, anybody who wants to limit what a child reads, even if it's bad stuff, isn't doing them a favor. I would watch what my child reads to make sure that they're old enough to comprehend and integrate what it is they're reading.
In fact, my greatest fear is that my child will NOT be a reader, and therefore will get most of their culture through the howling demon of American media. (and I'm refering more to the noise, color and attitude than the moral content.)

01-12-2005, 05:23 PM
okay maybe I got lucky with my mom, but she never flat out said you can't read that! She did make sure she was right there when I watched A Clockwork Orange at 13 and then read the book, so if I had any questions she was there...she made sure that the first r rated movie I saw (at 14) was one she took me too...(Excalibur) granted it was more "earthy" than she expected...we still giggle over the expression on her face during the sex scenes...I do think a student should be given an alternate reading list in case a parent has objections...personally I plan on being as encouraging as my mom to read what I can and to be there when they have questions... Yes parents should be able to ask for an alternate reading list...but does that cause problems between that student and the others that are reading the assignment given...nobody likes to be seen as a mamas girl/boy....middle school and high school are hellish enough in their own way

01-12-2005, 09:26 PM
In fact, my greatest fear is that my child will NOT be a reader, and therefore will get most of their culture through the howling demon of American media. (and I'm refering more to the noise, color and attitude than the moral content.)

Amen! My thoughts exactly. The howling demon of American media - imagine for a moment if that is ALL a person was exposed to.

That just lead to a thought - perhaps one of the reasons Americans are perceived so badly abroad is because the majority of the world sees us ONLY through the demon of that medium.

I lived in Canada for five years, and found that most people based their opinions of Americans on our media. At one point, I challenged a person I worked with because he was spouting off the media-induced stereotypes of Americans. He was not aware that he worked with two Americans from - GASP! New York and New Jersey. I started talking to him, and asked if I or the other woman seemed very different from him, and if we seemed to have a different attitude, or espouse different values. He had to admit that we seemed pretty normal to him (little did he know!). Perhaps we have to change that impression one person, one individual, at a time.

Blue Pixie
01-13-2005, 12:53 AM
I don't think these books should be banned in any way. Although I haven't had the change to read them- but until I do, I don't think they should. I mean I remember in my 12th grade english class that we had to pick a book from a list of books to read from and then write a report, and present it to the class about our opinion and stuff. I remembered I picked the Hand Maid's Tale. Note it did have some sexually activity (no in detail though), and it was about a woman whose freedom was taken away. Although I didn't like the book- I wouldn't ban it because it taught me a valueble lesson (please excuse the spelling). I learned that I shouldn't what freedom I have for granted because I may never know if something could happen.

Well that's my story about why books shouldn't be banned!

01-13-2005, 01:32 AM
Um... I think it's quite clear that they've not *really* read all the books on the "good reading" list.

Please understand, I'm not saying that the following books are "bad;" I'm merely weighing in by some of the standards expressed in the "bad book" list.

The Diary of a Young Girl is a book that I consider myself VERY familiar with. I won't call myself an expert, but I've spent years studying the texts in various forms (including the version released a few years ago that includes material that Otto Frank deleted).

In its orginal form (that Otto Frank approved version -- which is most readily available and widely read), Anne makes an entry talking about masturbation. She also discusses an interaction that she had with a friend before the family went into hiding; she aked her (female) friend if they could touch one another breasts, and she later discusses how she longed to kiss her. She later laments on how much she misses her, which is much like a schoolgirl crush.

Anne also discusses her parents' sexuality, including speculation that Otto must have cheated on Edith (her mother) at some point, because of their seeming lack of affection. She discusses the VanDamme's sexual relationship (or lack thereof) as well.

Gulliver's Travels discusses urination to put out fires (and being made illegal), Gulliver ogling breasts, what could be deemed as some as molestation/statutory rape (Glumdalclitch), a woman placing Gulliver on her nipple and playing with him (and Gulliver describing the "smells" of a woman. These are just a few things that come to mind that might get their knickers in a twist.

I think you'll also find it interesting to see that Gulliver's Travels is on the OCLC Top 100+ Banned Books list of the 1000 greatest works of all time(#7). The Bible, which they might approve of a bit more, is #1. Diary of a Young Girlis #13. Little House on the Prarie is #88 (yes, folks). This is a link to the most popularly banned books of the OCLC's list of the Top 1000:


It might actually be helpful for them to READ the books of which they consider themselves experts. :augh:

Jeannie Fitzgerald
01-14-2005, 06:11 AM
Although I do not believe in total censorship, as a parent, I would have objected to many of the books children are now being required to read in school. Parents have a responsibility for the upbringing of their children, including their education. Their minds are immature and need to be guided in their development until they are mature enough to make their own decision. The fact that is not happening is demonstrated by the lack of good ethics among young people I come in contact with, such as those involving stealing, disrespect for authority (not that I believe in blind respect), respect for other people, etc. In general, to them stealing is no big deal. The concept of what stealing even is is beyond them. Their language is appalling. And they can not understand what the problem is. My ex and I kept a fairly tight rein on my children until they were old enough to make decisions for themselves, then supported them when they made those decisions whether we agreed or not (well, I did anyway). They didn't get their way all the time even if the other kids were. We didn't indulge their every whim even though other parents did. They not only survived, they turned out pretty good. This isn't to say I was a great parent (I wasn't, I was going through some serious personal issues back then), but at least we did manage to raise a couple of decent, honest, responsible human beings. Had we not been so restrictive, I would hate to see what guttermouthed, immoral people they would have probably turned out to be, especially based on how most of their friends turned out.

The schools have a difficult situation in that they need to be careful what they teach so as not to abbrogate parents' efforts in raising their children. This includes restricting required reading material and material available in libraries (not necessarilly banning them). If parents feel their children are able to deal with material outside the narrow range schools should permit, then they can allow their chldren access to those materials outside of school. The important thing is it should be the parents' decision.

In my humble (or not so humble, if you prefer), creationism of all major cultures (not just Christian) should be taught alongside evolutionary creation on an equal basis. It should be up to the parents to then determine how to guide their children in what to believe until they are mature enough to decide for themselves; granted, not an easy task.

Schools in many parts of the country have been allowed to deteriorate to point that foul language is rampant, morality has plummeted and violence is often the rule. Other parts of the country have gone to the opposite extreme in allowing religion to be the sole basis for setting the standards, often based on ignorance. Neither is good. I had seriously thought of going into substitute teaching after retiring from my last job. The sorry state of the school systems where I would have done so changed my mind. There is no way I would put up with a child entrusted in my care using profanity or being insolent. Since I wouldn't be allowed to deal with it in a manner I would feel appropriate (and no, that doesn't mean smack them), I abandoned that idea.

Another factor in what we allow children to be exposed to is children are being forced to grow up too soon. They do not have a chance to be children for very long anymore. I find that very tragic.

Btw, this not a new issue. "Catcher in the Rye" was banned at my high school thirty years ago (yes, I'm THAT old). Huck Finn had been banned by many schools across the country because of the alleged homosexual attraction Jim had for Huck (something I thought was ludicrous even then even though, at the time I was a rabid homophobe; can we say "internalized hatred?"). Thinking back, it was amazing "The Great Gatsby" was allowed to be required reading.

It's amazing (and frightening) what comes out of one's mind at 3 am while suffering from "shift lag."

01-14-2005, 10:23 AM
In my humble (or not so humble, if you prefer), creationism of all major cultures (not just Christian) should be taught alongside evolutionary creation on an equal basis.

in an english class, which tends to double as an intro to philosophy given that there is no separate philosophy courses in the middle and high school grades, maybe.

But NOT in a BIOLOGY class. Not in a SCIENCE class. Science is for the presentation of theories that have evidential support. There is NO *evidence* for young-earth creationism. There is NO *evidence* for intelligent design. There is NO *evidence* for any form of life on earth today that came about through any other means than common descent. There is NO *evidence* that directly supports any mythology's or religion's form of creationism.

To teach kids that creationism is "equal" to the last 250 years of scientific research into cosmology, geology, paleontology, anthropology, and the unifying concept behind modern biology, is to destroy their impressions of what science really is before they've even started.

Science is not like politics or philosophy where two sides are equal if they can be equally argued. Science is what the factual evidence supports, regardless of what ANY book might say to the contrary (including a science text that is wrong, and there have been plenty over the years).

This country already has a problem of being "behind" in math and sciences. Don't make it worse.

01-14-2005, 11:45 AM
I have also been truly blessed in that my parents did not limit what I was allowed to read. Of course I didn't even know about things like Clockwork Orange until I was an adult. . .so my reading tended to be age appropriate.
If Mom wasn't sure about a book she asked to read it first and then let me read it. That way if I didn't understand something she at least had read it in context and could discuss/ explain it to me.
I have only read one book that was on a list that I did not feel was appropriate. It was actually for a history class and the teacher gave us a list of books to read that we were to then write a report about. . . the only limit was that no two students in the same class could chose the same book. So I read a book that for the most part was ok however toward the end it turned into a tail of canibalism in graphic detail.
I went to the teacher to discuss the issue with her (I didn't want to finish the book - and I always finish them even if they are poorly written). The teacher had never read the book herself and told me that I chose it I need to finish it. I didn not finish the book. I wrote my paper based on what I had read and then (giving proper credit via footnotes/ bibliography) I quoted the book directly at the point that I did not want to continue reading.
The teacher turned the paper into the principal because she was concerned with the "graphicness" of my paper. In my discussion with the principal I found out that the objectionable portion was my quoting of the book. The principal had noted that I properly quoted the book and he wanted to know why I chose the book for a report and included that portion. I told him about it being on the teachers list and when I went to her with issues over the book she told me I had to stick with the book I choose.
Resolution: I was given and A on my paper and the teacher chose to remove that book from her list. I heard later that she took the summer break reading the rest of the books that were on her list that she had not read. (How can a teacher read a book report if they haven't read the book already?)

Arwin Adrea
01-16-2005, 11:51 AM
As a 24 yr old who was encouraged to read all the time as a child, and was sucessful in highschool and college BECAUSE of the books I'd been exposed to, I have to agree that things like this always worry me.

I frequently look at "banned-books" lists and count off how many of them I've read, (it is almost always more than 50%), and the wonderful reads that I would have missed...oh my.

I had 12th grade English with a wonderful teacher who, as he handed us wonderful books like Catch-22 and A Handmaid's Tale would say "some day they'll fire me for teaching these books, but I think they're necessary, and the school board can just go ahead and try."

Susie Sweetz
01-27-2005, 05:03 PM
This whole discussion comes when I have a banned book project in my Reading for Literacy class. I have found some great websites. I have found that the American Library Association (ALA) has a great site listing the top 10 banned books. I believe the site is www.ala.org Another site is the forbiddenlibrary.com. At this site they list the books who banned them & why.

So if you have an interest- check out these sites!

Constance Innuendo
01-27-2005, 09:35 PM
weighing in on both topics mentioned. . . .I think that evolution and christianity are totally compatible, but that the fact SHOULD BE TOTALLY irrelevant. Creationism has EXTREMELY strong ties to Christianity (as well as other religeons) and therefore its teaching is technically unconstitutional. but go figure, I'm a christian that supports the fullest seperation of church and state possible.
As for the books. I read and celebrate banned books. As a matter of fact I just finished rereading Slaughterhouse Five last night because of a question a colleague of mine had raised about its appropriateness in a Senior Honors English class. . .upon rereading the book I know she couldn't have possibly ever read it or she wouldn't have asked me that particular question.. . but I digress.
I was in the 6th grade when my parents stopped limiting what I was "allowed" to read this was done for several reasons. . .I was reading at the 1st grade level at age 4, by 1st grade they were borrowing home readers from the third grade for me, by third grade I was reading at the 7th grade level etc. . .I have been an avid reader my whole life because of the limitless possibilities books offer. Some of this "subversive" literature helped me develop in my teen years because I was reading things by people who expressed the same very dark thougths and feelings I was having, and feeling less of a freak, less alone, I didn't necessarily have to act on them.
I seriously doubt that any teenager has ever done or said something bad and then used "it was in a book I had to read" as a defense. . .can we say the same of movies and video games? I think not.
Here is an idea if you're not sure your child should be reading a certain book, don't take someone else's word for it, read it yourself. You as a parent should know how mature your child is or isn't and if they can handle it, and the added bonus is that IF you do in turn decide to let them read it, if they have any questions you can answer them in an informed and knowledgeable fashion.

Eric McTavish
01-28-2005, 09:14 AM
some quotes about "banned" books...

Censorship Quotes
" If your library is not 'unsafe', it probably isn't doing its job."
-- John Berry, Iii, Library Journal, October 1999

"Without free speech no search for truth is possible... no discovery of truth is useful... Better a thousandfold abuse of free speech than denial of free speech. The abuse dies in a day, but the denial slays the life of the people, and entombs the hope of the race."
-- Charles Bradlaugh

"There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them. "
-- Joseph Alexandrovitch Brodsky, 1991, Russian-American poet, b. St. Petersburg and exiled 1972 (1940-1996)

"Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people's idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage."
-- Winston Churchill

"You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. Yet in their hearts there is unspoken - unspeakable! - fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts! Words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home, all the more powerful because they are forbidden. These terrify them. A little mouse - a little tiny mouse! -of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic."
-- Winston Churchill

"The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion..."
-- Henry Steel Commager

"Burning is no answer."
-- Camille Desmoulins' reply to Robespierre, January 7, 1794, on burning his newspaper, Le Vieux Cordelier

"If librarianship is the connecting of people to ideas and I believe that is the truest definition of what we do it is crucial to remember that we must keep and make available, not just good ideas and noble ideas, but bad ideas, silly ideas, and yes, even dangerous or wicked ideas."
-- Graceanne A. Decandido

"Don't join the book burners. Don't think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech at Dartmouth College, June 14, 1953

"Every burned book enlightens the world."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"This is slavery, not to speak one's thought."
-- Euripides, Greek tragic poet (480 or 485 B.C. - 406 B.C)

"If the human body's obscene, complain to the manufacturer, not me."
-- Larry Flynt

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
-- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

"If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed."
-- Benjamin Franklin, 1730

"Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education."
-- Alfred Whitney Griswold, Essays on Education

"[O]ne man's vulgarity is another's lyric."
-- John Marshall Harlan, Supreme Court justice, 1971

"Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings."
-- Heinrich Heine

"I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions."
-- Lillian Hellman, subpoenaed to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee, 1952

"To prohibit the reading of certain books is to declare the inhabitants to be either fools or slaves."
-- Claude Adrien Helvetius, De l'Homme, Vol. I, sec. 4

"The sooner we all learn to make a decision between disapproval and censorship, the better off society will be... Censorship cannot get at the real evil, and it is an evil in itself."
-- Granville Hicks (1901-1982)

"Fear of corrupting the mind of the younger generation is the loftiest form of cowardice."
-- Holbrook Jackson

"Did you ever hear anyone say 'That work had better be banned because I might read it and it might be very damaging to me'?"
-- Joseph Henry Jackson

"Civil government cannot let any group ride roughshod over others simply because their consciences tell them to do so."
-- Robert H. Jackson

"Children deprived of words become school dropouts; dropouts deprived of hope behave delinquently. Amateur censors blame delinquency on reading immoral books and magazines, when in fact, the inability to read anything is the basic trouble."
-- Peter S. Jennison

"Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance."
-- Lyndon Baines Johnson, February 11, 1964

"Dat veniam corvis, vexat censura columbas. - Censure acquits the raven, but pursues the dove."
-- Decimus Junius Juvenalis (Juvenal), Satires, II. 63. Roman rhetorician and satirical poet (1st to 2nd cent. A.D.)

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? - Who will watch the watchers?"
-- Juvenal

"We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."
-- John F. Kennedy

"The burning of an author's books, imprisonment for an opinion's sake, has always been the tribute that an ignorant age pays to the genius of its time."
-- Joseph Lewis, Voltaire: The Incomparable Infidel, 1929

"Censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but unlike charity, it should end there."
-- Clare Booth Luce

"One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present."
-- Golda Meir, Israeli political leader (1898-1978)

"And yet on the other hand unless warinesse be us'd, as good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book; who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, Gods Image, but hee who destroyes a good Booke, kills reason it selfe, kills the Image of God, as it were in the eye."
-- Milton, Areopagitica, 1644

"To forbid us anything is to make us have a mind for it."
-- Michel de Montaigne, Essays, 1559

"You have not converted a man because you have silenced him."
-- John Morley

"Senator Smoot (Republican, Ut.)
Is planning a ban on smut
Oh rooti-ti-toot for Smoot of Ut.
And his reverent occiput.
Smite. Smoot, smite for Ut.,
Grit your molars and do your dut.,
Gird up your l--ns,
Smite h-p and th-gh,
We'll all be Kansas
By and By."
-- Ogden Nash, "Invocation," 1931

"Censorship of anything, at any time, in any place, on whatever pretense, has always been and always be the last resort of the boob and the bigot."
-- Eugene Gladstone O'Neill, American playwright (1888-1953)

"All of us can think of a book... that we hope none of our children or any other children have taken off the shelf. But if I have the right to remove that book from the shelf - that work I abhor - then you also have exactly the same right and so does everyone else. And then we have no books left on the shelf for any of us."
-- Katherine Paterson, American author of childrens books (1932-)

"A censor is an expert in cutting remarks. A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to."
-- Dr. Laurence Peter, Peter's Quotations: Ideas for Our Time. New York: Morrow, 1977, p. 97

"Free societies...are societies in motion, and with motion comes tension, dissent, friction. Free people strike sparks, and those sparks are the best evidence of freedom's existence."
-- Salman Rushdie

"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist."
-- Salman Rushdie

"Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads."
-- George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright and critic (1856-1950)

"All censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorship."
-- George Bernard Shaw, Preface to Mrs. Warren's Profession

"Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself. It is the hallmark of an authoritarian regime..."
-- Justice Potter Stewart, dissenting Ginzberg v. United States, 383 U.S. 463 (1966)

"Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear."
-- Harry S. Truman, message to Congress, August 8, 1950

"Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it."
-- Mark Twain

"Adam was but human - this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple's sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent."
-- Mark Twain

"All these people talk so eloquently about getting back to good old-fashioned values. Well, as an old poop I can remember back to when we had those old-fashioned values, and I say let's get back to the good old-fashioned First Amendment of the good old-fashioned Constitution of the United States -- and to hell with the censors! Give me knowledge or give me death!"
-- Kurt Vonnegut, author

"The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book."
-- Walt Whitman

"There is no such thing as a moral book or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all."
-- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

"The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame."
-- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all."
-- Oscar Wilde