An Indianopolis teacher faces suspension over a book. She introduced a book (Freedom Writers) containing language that the school board didn’t like.
This incident is obviously not the only instance of book-banning.
The American Library Association says the number of books banned or challenged at public libraries increases every year. Along with titles with obvious references to sexuality, violence and vulgarity, the Harry Potter series and classics like “Of Mice and Men” and “Huckleberry Finn” rank among the most-challenged books.(MSNBC)
I looked at the Freedom Writers site. Well, it’s not “Of Mice and Men” but it seems exactly what you’d expect conscientious English literature teachers to be encouraging kids to read. But, it seems that the conceptual conscientious English literature teacher is facing a threat to her job because she did just that.
There is a strange process at work. Many of us believe that we can deny the existence of disturbing aspects of reality if we can stop children seeing them. This doesn’t actually make the bad things go away. It doesn’t even protect children. It just stops them being able to discuss unpleasant things openly.
The US is a haven for Protect the Children nutters. Black Sun posted an interesting, if chilling, blog about the Parents Television Council last week.
The UK isn’t immune from Ms Lovejoy syndrome. In the past few days, UK newspapers and magazines have been getting exercised over a silly Miss Bimbo game, the object of which is to make your character into the “coolest bimbo.” You do this by making it take diet pills, get plastic surgery and silicon implant its chest. The Times, the Daily Mail, the Metro and the rest all seem to have lost any appreciation of irony. At least they don’t credit any young players with any sense that this is mocking.
All the papers seem to be quoting from the same press release, although they differ about whether the game will be played by girls “as young as” 6 or 9. (Note the non-accidental use of as young as 6 rather than aged 6) I guess that the “as young as” bit also comes from a single press release, from the previously unheard-of parents organisation (“parents’ rights group Parentkind”)* that is complaining about this game.
What a marketing coup for the makers of Miss Bimbo and Parentkind. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were the same people.
The true irony is that the papers that are throwing up their arms in disgust that this game promotes dangerous role models for girls are the very same papers that cannot produce a single issue without promoting anorexic, surgically enhanced, shopping-obsessed, intellect-challenged gold-diggers on every page.
* I know every organisation in the world isn’t Googlable but you’d think Parentkind would be, given that they seem to be on every news editors’ quotable list. I found something called The Parent Organisation with a blank web page labeled Parentkind. The page says “The Parentkind Directories are currently under development.” If you are not British and were to visit this site – which I am only assuming to be the source of Parentkind – you may think the address is some obscure joke. I can assure you that the places, at least, are legitimate.