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Author Topic: Censorship at its most hilariously ironic
Rallan
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I'd bold the good bits, but there's just so many.

http://www.hcnonline.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=17270600&BRD=1574&PAG=461&dept_id=532215&rfi=6

quote:

Parent criticizes book 'Fahrenheit 451'
By: Kassia Micek, Courier staff

A Caney Creek High School dad is fired up because the Conroe Independent School District uses the book "Fahrenheit 451" as classroom reading material.


Alton Verm, of Conroe, objects to the language and content in the book. His 15-year-old daughter Diana, a CCHS sophomore, came to him Sept. 21 with her reservations about reading the book because of its language.
"The book had a bunch of very bad language in it," Diana Verm said. "It shouldn't be in there because it's offending people. ... If they can't find a book that uses clean words, they shouldn't have a book at all."
Alton Verm filed a "Request for Reconsideration of Instructional Materials" Thursday with the district regarding "Fahrenheit 451," written by Ray Bradbury and published in 1953. He wants the district to remove the book from the curriculum.
"It's just all kinds of filth," said Alton Verm, adding that he had not read "Fahrenheit 451." "The words don't need to be brought out in class. I want to get the book taken out of the class."
He looked through the book and found the following things wrong with the book: discussion of being drunk, smoking cigarettes, violence, "dirty talk," references to the Bible and using God's name in vain. He said the book's material goes against their religions beliefs. The Verms go to Grand Parkway Church in Porter.
"We went them to go after God," said Glen Jalowy Jr., Grand Parkway Church youth minister. "We encourage them that what you put in your mind and heart is what comes out."
Alton Verm said he doesn't understand how the district can punish students for using bad language, yet require them to read a book with bad language as part of a class.
Diana Verm and another classmate decided to read an alternative book. They leave the classroom when the class reads or discusses "Fahrenheit 451," she said. The two students were given "Ella Minnow Pea" by Mark Dunn because it shares common themes with "Fahrenheit 451," said Chris Hines, CISD assistant superintendent for secondary education.
"Fahrenheit 451" is a science fiction piece that poses a warning to society about the preservation and passing on of knowledge as well as asks the question about whether the government should do the thinking for the people, Hines stated in an e-mail to The Courier. Other themes include conformity vs. individuality, freedom of speech and the consequences of losing it, the importance of remembering and understanding history and technology as help to humans and as hindrances to humans, Hines stated in the e-mail.
"They're not reading books just to read them," Hines said in a telephone interview. "They're reading it for a purpose. ... We respect people's rights to express their concerns and we have a policy in place to handle that."
A selection process is used for materials other than textbooks, according to district policy. The materials must meet various standards, be appropriate for the subject, age and social and emotional development of the students and motivate students to examine their own attitudes and behavior, according to district policy.
While the district does not know of any other challenges to "Fahrenheit 451," there may have been students who have decided to read a different book. The district estimates about 1 percent of students request to read a different book than assigned, according to the e-mail. "Fahrenheit 451" has been used in CISD curriculum for at least 19 years and "likely prior to that," Hines said in the e-mail.
The district hasn't received challenges on any other books in the four years he's been with the district, Hines said.
A district student, employee or resident can challenge any educational material in CISD on the basis or appropriateness, according to CISD EFA (local) policy. An informal reconsideration is first attempted. Informal requests are not documented, so Hines said he did not know how many requests were handled informally.
The person can make a formal challenge, which Alton Verm did. A committee will be appointed to review the material, discuss the material and report findings about the request to the principal, parent and superintendent, Hines said. The process takes about two weeks.
The Montgomery, New Caney, Splendora and Willis school districts have similar policies.
NCISD banned "Draw Me a Star" by Eric Carle and "Absolute Power" by David Baldacci, but it has not received a book challenge in three years, Cindee Reynolds, NCISD superintendent/community relations executive assistant, stated in an e-mail to The Courier. Montgomery ISD received one request from a parent to review instructional material, but the district has not banned any books, Babette Eikenberg, Montgomery ISD human resources executive director, stated in an e-mail to The Courier.
Alton Verm's request to ban "Fahrenheit 451" came during the 25th annual Banned Books Week. He and Hines said the request to ban "Fahrenheit 451," a book about book burning, during Banned Books Weeks is a coincidence.
"Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read" is observed during the last week of September each year, according to the American Library Association Web site, www.ala.org. The week celebrates the freedom to choose or express one's opinion, even if it might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them, according to the Web site.
Jerilynn Williams, Montgomery County Memorial Library System director, said Banned Books Week keeps the public aware that it is imperative to have access to information in a democratic society. Banning books causes libraries to limit access to information by withholding a person's right to explore a wide variety of opinions to form their own opinions, Williams said.
"Not every book is appropriate for every person, but every person should have their work that they choose," Williams said. "The public library is for everyone."
The Montgomery County Memorial Library System has received 65 requests to challenge books since 2002, Williams said. The library has removed "Castro," for factual inaccuracies, and "Tomorrow Wendy," because it was not under the library's current guidelines, Williams said. The library also has a process for people to follow if they challenge a book, Williams said.
However, Williams said a public library is different than a school library.
"As a public library, we are the library for everyone," Williams said. "The school library is meant to be the library for that select group at that school."
To view a school district's policy on book selection or how to challenge a book, visit the individual district's Web site.


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jasonr
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If he was objecting to say, Tropic of Cancer, or The Naked Lunch, I'd be a bit more sympathetic. But then again, I didn't read Fahreinheit 451 either, so maybe it's more offensive than it sounds.

quote:
Alton Verm said he doesn't understand how the district can punish students for using bad language, yet require them to read a book with bad language as part of a class.
Good point. We tell kids not to use bad language... but can anyone (including the kids) take this prescription seriously in light of the fact that no one and nothing (even the books at school, apparently) take this prescription seriously? The minister was right after all: what goes in comes out. This parent may be a doofus, but at least he's not a hypocrite, like the parents who smugly dismiss this guy as an ignorant hick, but get angry when their younger kids curse. Hyporcrisy is worse than child molesting, or so I hear.
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Kit
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I laughed, I cried, I wanted beat some sense into someone with a hammer.

I love the extra helping of irony. Not only do they want to ban a book about banning books, they also made the request during a week celebrating NOT bannign books.

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LoverOfJoy
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quote:
The week celebrates the freedom to choose or express one's opinion, even if it might be considered unorthodox or unpopular
This is what he did. Also, I'm not sure that it's clear he was trying to ban the book. At the beginning they said he filed a "Request for Reconsideration of Instructional Materials"...basically saying he didn't want something taught, not that wanted it banned. If an atheist doesn't want the Bible taught in class is he trying to ban the Bible? It seems like that's what the journalist concludes rather than what really happened.

It sounds like the school handled it really well. The daughter didn't get out of any work, really. She still had to read a related book. The others still read and discussed the book. A good mix of "conformity vs. individuality."

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kenmeer livermaile
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somewhere, i hope and am almost sure, back in the 60s or 70s, some clever rascals burned a pile of bibles because they failed to mention The Beatles.
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johnson
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My junior high school English class read Fahrenheit 451. No problems from parents there, and I come from a pretty conservative religious background in the rural South. I heard all those 'swear words' from other kids and in movies before I read them in that book. That book was really tame, relatively, as is all Bradbury's work that I've read. I was reading Clan of the Cave Bear, for heaven's sake, at that age, as a comparison.
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cperry
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I don't want Mr. & Mrs. Smith deciding what book MY kid's teacher can use in the classroom. That is book banning, as far as I'm concerned. If the Smiths don't want their kid reading a book, that's fine. Don't even look at my kid and what she's reading; that's MY job, thank you very much.
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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
If he was objecting to say, Tropic of Cancer, or The Naked Lunch, I'd be a bit more sympathetic. But then again, I didn't read Fahreinheit 451 either, so maybe it's more offensive than it sounds.

Trust my jasonr, it's ironic on many levels at once. Farenheit 451 is about a future where, rather than risk upsetting people with controversial ideas, unpopular opinions, racy content, or unflattering portrayals, everyone decided to get together and ban all books. After all, the stuff in books might offend people, or worse yet, get them to thinking and doing stuff that could offend other people.

Then to add to the irony, the only "foul language' in the book are words like Damn and Hell, and Ray Bradbury's on the record in oodles of interviews as being a fairly prudish guy who doesn't like the idea of profanity or lewd content in literature unless it's absolutely vital to the storyline, and even then he wishes more writers would be a bit less crass about it [Smile]

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philnotfil
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If the kids can't say them in class, they shouldn't be assigned to read them in class.
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RickyB
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phil, that would leave a huh-yooge amount of the best literature ever written outside the classroom. That what you want?
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jasonr
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quote:
Then to add to the irony, the only "foul language' in the book are words like Damn and Hell, and Ray Bradbury's on the record in oodles of interviews as being a fairly prudish guy who doesn't like the idea of profanity or lewd content in literature unless it's absolutely vital to the storyline, and even then he wishes more writers would be a bit less crass about it [Smile]
That's what I thought. I'll give you this: it is an unintentionally ironic statement on this guy's part. But I echo Phil: isn't it hypocritical to ban words like "damn" and "hell" in a classroom, or get upset when you hear your kids use them in other contexts (as many parents often do) but not object to your kids reading books in class that contain those very same words? I'm with the Minister: what goes in comes out.
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DonaldD
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Rudeness is also banned in the classroom, as well as the perfect freedom to use the head whenever you want.

Does that mean it is hypocritical to include books in the curriculum that describe rudeness or show people using the lavatory without raising their hands first?

Classroom-acceptable literature would be a very poor and limited thing if it couldn't address any activity proscribed during lectures.

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RickyB
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No, it is not hypocritical. If you only read books in which every single character agrees with the way you think things should be...

Seriously. This is high school, not grade school. You sure you wanna go book by book on the curriculum and purge all the ones that contain "damn" and "hell"?

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TommySama
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"I don't want Mr. & Mrs. Smith deciding what book MY kid's teacher can use in the classroom."

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolee?

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KnightEnder
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451 is the temperature at which paper burns, right?

I read that book out of the school library when I was 12. My dad cussed like a cop, and though I was drinking and getting laid I didn't cuss until I was 15 (and there are reasons for that) I cuss occassionaly and I allow my sons to say certain curse words when they're with their friends. Not in front of adults or small children. But other than stupidity and piety there is nothing wrong with any word, other than how it is used.

So, **** this hick. I agree with CP.

KE

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TommySama
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"If the kids can't say them in class, they shouldn't be assigned to read them in class."

No, phil is absolutely right. The kids should be allowed to say whatever they want to in class. It's context that matters, and even then, if something a kid says offends somebody else, maybe they should grow up a little bit and realize you can't NOT offend somebody all the time.

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TommySama
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"My dad cussed like a cop, and though I was drinking and getting laid I didn't cuss until I was 15"

You got laid before you were 15?

** 666th post [Eek!] **

[ October 07, 2006, 04:12 PM: Message edited by: TommySama ]

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KnightEnder
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12 Tommy, but I had a dysfunctional childhood. My oldest 17 had just kissed his second girlfriend after dating her for 3 weeks.

Oh, and I had a sister that was one year younger than me. She had five friends spend the night every night in the summer and I'd have five of my buddies spend the night and my dad worked graveyards as a cop and my mom locked herself in her room. So we were unsupervised all of the time. I started driving the streets at thirteen. The cops wouldn't give me a ticket because of my dad. A blast childhood, but I would have ended up in jail, for good, if I hadn't met my wife and had my sons.

KE

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cperry
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quote:
Originally posted by TommySama:
"I don't want Mr. & Mrs. Smith deciding what book MY kid's teacher can use in the classroom."

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolee?

Most definitely! [Razz]
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cperry
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Let's not confuse the different modes of language use. Profanity is part of casual language, and the classroom typically consists of formal or consultive levels of language use. To allow profanity in the classroom would bring down the atmosphere that's not quite conducive to learning. Teachers should model, and students should practice, professional (formal and consultive) language that is used in business. That doesn't mean that kids can't read literature that includes fictionalized casual settings. That just doesn't make any sense at all.

[ October 07, 2006, 04:48 PM: Message edited by: cperry ]

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KnightEnder
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I agree with that CP.

KE

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velcro
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quote:
If the kids can't say them in class, they shouldn't be assigned to read them in class.
So students should not be assigned stories where
-students are rude to teachers
-students skip school
-people steal
-people do anything wrong

If they are forbidden to do it, they shouldn't be forced to read about it? Seems a natural extension of your proposal.

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0Megabyte
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And... if they shouldn't be forced to read about it... why should they be ALLOWED to read about it at all?

And why just limit that to kids? If we make it so no one sees such work, wouldn't that help keep anyone from doing anything bad?

Certainly the Bible must go. [Big Grin] that's one of the worst offenders, after all... so much violence! Evil actions! Sins! What were they thinking, creating a book that describes human evils, or shows people betraying one another, stealing, murdering, hurting? We must stop the madness and ban it before people get bad ideas!

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philnotfil
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Why put any limits on what anyone does?
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The Drake
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I read Mutiny on the Bounty in High School, and yet we were still expected to take the teacher's orders and not cast them adrift in the South Pacific.

Hypocrisy!

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0Megabyte
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Because it would be the destruction of our civilization, of cuorse.

If we allowed people to do as they pleased, it would make our kids think they could do as they pleased too!

Do you realize what would happen if everyone thought they could do as they pleased? Why... we'd be unable to live together at all! People could take drugs and fall in sin... gamble and ruin their lives! People could have sex or be gay, which of course would hurt our families, our very children! They could... they could... *can't hold in my smirk any longer. It turns to laughing.*

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hobsen
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Nice distinction, cperry.

Two librarians were discussing this in my local library today because someone had just objected to John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. One said objections to the Harry Potter series were more common.

The American Library Association published a list of the 100 most frequently challenged books from 1990 to 2000. The top 20 were:
quote:
Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
Forever by Judy Blume
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Giver by Lois Lowry
It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Sex by Madonna
Earth's Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel

This issue gave me some of my worst moments as a teacher, after I gave three of my senior honor students a box of old science fiction paperbacks given to me by a friend. They loved them, but indicated they found them very racy; and I had visions of being denounced by their parents for handing out pornography. Moreover I had no idea where they had managed to find anything racy, as most 1950s science fiction ended with the hero kissing his spaceship. Teenagers can find sex in anything.
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KnightEnder
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Phil is right. Kids should be able to say; "Yo teach I don't understand this ****." And "What the **** is Shakespeare thinking?"

KE

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TommySama
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Enlightened kids in my IB program:

"Um, like, Scout uses the n-word in reference to black people, like not because she doesn't like them, but uh, because she doesn't know better."

Sometimes bad words are conducive, I think.

Saying: "Edna Pontellier is a total bitch" gets the point across better than: "Well, Edna was completely selfish, refused to care for her kids, had an emotional affair with an old syphilitic guy, and than abandoned her kids because she doesn't care for anybody but herself."

All that extra stuff is just evidence, which is gathered after the teach inquires as to why you think Edna is a total bitch.

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KnightEnder
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In fifth grade I said a girl was conceited and I ended up having to go to her house after school with my parents to apologize. The times are changing. (And she was. We laughed about it in high school)

KE

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TommySama
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But you didn't say Edna Pontellier was conceited? I hate Edna.
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johnson
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So it looks like we hav found support from regular posters here for banning "Fahrenheit 451"---I realized there were some ignorant folks here among the regular Ornery posters, both on the left and the right, but DAMN....HELL....DAMN....

[ October 09, 2006, 02:44 PM: Message edited by: johnson ]

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philnotfil
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There is a difference between assigning a book as required reading and banning a book.

I haven't seen anyone on here saying to ban this book from schools or libraries. Personally I enjoy the book. I just don't think that it is appropriate to force everyone to read itas a part of their grade for a required class.


What is being taught by reading this book?

Is the language used integral to what is being taught?

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TommySama
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Well above somebody said the author was very conservative linguistically and chose his words very carefully, so based on that information, yes, it was integral.

I think it's ridiculous. People shouldn't be bubbled up and withdrawn from every little thing that offends them. It's ridiculous, part of school is growing up and accepting things you don't like.

At least in America, when it was free.

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cperry
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philnotfil - In our school system, one of the concepts I'm trying to make sure all English teachers (esp 6-12) understand that the only reason we use a text (poem, short story, essay, novel, play) is to help students learn a concept (characterization, plot structure, irony, or an author's style as it fits in history, for example). We require no texts in particular -- they are vehicles for other learning. So no student who finds a text to be offensive must read it.
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LoverOfJoy
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quote:
Well above somebody said the author was very conservative linguistically and chose his words very carefully, so based on that information, yes, it was integral.
It may have been integral to all the author wanted to convey but the fact that the school was able to find another text that "share[d] common themes" suggests that it might not have been integral to what the teacher wanted to teach.
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LoverOfJoy
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If a teacher required the reading of a biography of Bush that perhaps was factual (or close to it), but outrageously biased in what it included to paint Bush as a wonderful president and another that did the same but painted Clinton as horrible, I'm sure a lot of people here would complain and insist that their kid (and quite possible all the others) be allowed to read a Clinton friendly or Bush antagonistic biography as an alternative.

To allow their kid and others to be exposed to such "offensive" material (at least without a strong counterpoint) would be heinous to many of the people here. Others might do nothing at all. Others might allow it but then "require" their kid to read another text that "exposes the truth" about those presidents as well.

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cperry
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BTW, LoJ, that example you gave would be the rare occurrence in public education. [Big Grin]
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KnightEnder
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LOJ,

So they should force them to read a book that is pro-book burning to balance things out?

How bout "Mein Kampf"? [Razz]

KE

[ October 09, 2006, 08:36 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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KnightEnder
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Seriously, that book really meant a lot to me and shaped me. I had never considered the importance of books before or that anyone would destroy them to control knowledge.

KE

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