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April 28, 2005

Comments

You missed Elizabeth Bishop.

Not to mention Plato's Socratic dialogues, and most Classical literature.

I believe that also rules out some of the Cheney family's oeuvre, as well....

And if they ever find out about David and Jonathan--my, what a pickle they'll be in then!

I missed a lot of the women, rilkefan...Willa Cather, Alice Walker (characters in work), Dorothy Allison, and on and on...Lynn freakin' Cheney, for chrissake, had lesbian characters in her book "Sisters"

Why not just let them? Of course I think it's stupid. But one of the fundamental dicta of human experience is that you have to let people be stupid and learn the consequences. You can't just tell people something is stupid or bad. They'll just call you a coastal blah cultural elite in your ivory blah tower blah and dredge up more self-righteous outrage. Let them be stupid and figure out what it's like to not have their kids get into a good college because they don't know who Plato, Socrates, Bacon, or Whitman are. Or see what it's like to have all of their good teachers leave because they can't teach Keynes, Woolf, or Turing.

You do more damage trying to fix someone than you do letting them break on their own.

What gets me:

Go to a library, any library, and you'll be surrounded by books by people about whom you know nothing. Is R.L. Stine straight? Are they going to start sending letters to every publisher, asking for a list of gay authors?

Hilzoy - The idea of this maroon reading the Symposium makes me chuckle. Then vomit. Then chuckle again. He thinks plato is that stuff his kids eat that comes in the little cardboard cans.

Bleagh.

You know, it's a damned shame that we can't teach the Bible in the schools. It is, after all, the primary source material for a hell of a lot of the literature you read in English class. It's really important to study it, and be familiar with it.

That said, does anyone doubt that an open minded study of the Bible as literature is absolutely *not* what would happen in Odessa, TX? I happen to be in the middle of Friday Night Lights at the moment, which squares very well with memories of Plano. Forget it.

But..but...Michael Moore is FAT!!!!!1

But why, sidereal, why not aim both guns at the little pr*ck and blow his political career to smithereens.

If he had proposed banning all books by black writers, there's no doubt he'd be crucified. Why is it OK to single out and demonize gays in this country?

Newton reportedly having been a homosexual, I'm wondering if ignorance of the laws of motion and gravity will work out to anyone's advantage.

Oh, I'm sure that the Bible course will be chock-full of redaction criticism, the discussion of the J, E, P and D authors of the Pentateuch, the controversy over the Q gospel, the Infancy Gospel, and all that.

Er . . . not.

sidereal,

I understand your point, but the victims are not the morons who institute this sort of thing but their children, and the children of Alabamians who don't support this. They are the ones whose education will suffer.

Adults can reject evolution, or calculus for that matter, and beyond considering them idiots it won't really bother me. But when they start imposing their ignorance on the education system they are doing real harm to other people.

You just wait, Bernard. Today it's the homosexual authors; tomorrow it'll be the atheists, agnostics, and those who slept with their wife's sister.

Not sure if that last one puts a serious dent in any collective intellectual capital, but you never know.

What's happening to this country?

Nothing.

This kind of misguided buffoonery has been going on every year since I can remember. If you tried to keep up with every stupid bill some idiot in some state introduced you wouldn't have time for anything else in life.

"But why, sidereal, why not aim both guns at the little pr*ck and blow his political career to smithereens."

Does he represent this will of his constituents? That's all that matters in regards to the strength of his political career. I have a passing familiarity with Alabama, and I would not be at all surprised if the people in his district supported his plan enthusiastically. Sure, you can pocket this and use it later if he ever tries to put together a national political career, but right now his political career isn't blastable.

"Why is it OK to single out and demonize gays in this country?"

It isn't okay. The question is what you can do about it. Don't get me wrong, I think it's important to call it out, because it gives gay and moderate Republicans one more thing to think about in regards to their choice of political party and the bedfellows it comes with. But when you say Bush should run down and stop him, I think that's exactly the wrong result. I'd like to think the shrill victimhood of the poor heterosexual Christians in this country has reached an apex, but I very much doubt it.

Years ago my ex-brother-in-law taught a high school Bible-as-literature class. The clas was discontinued because a nearby fundamentalist church objected. Their basic argument was that the Bible was the true word of God, not literature, and they didn't want it discussed or analyzed in those terms.

If a certain recent book is to be believed, nothing by or about Abraham Lincoln either. No Gettysberg Address, no Second Inaugural, no Emancipation Proclamation, nothing about the Civil War that might mention him, etc. etc. etc.

Of course, people try to get books banned from school libraries all the time, but I don't think I've heard of a state legislature trying something like this before.

Maybe Garald Allen may well be ignorant, but you all are too.

William Burroughs in a Jr. High or High School?

I think not! And no Hunter Thompson either, for that matter!

What is the freaking matter with you people! Aren't there any parents of high school kids here??

Willa Cather is awesome.

"But when they start imposing their ignorance on the education system they are doing real harm to other people."

Well, there's a long tangent there in regarding how much control people have over their own children, even if it's long-run damaging. We probably don't want to get into it too much, but my stance is that barring literal abuse, parents have the freedom to stunt their children, because the only alternative is the state telling you how to parent, and that's horrible.

If you mean the children of other parents who disagree with this stance, I'm pretty confident they could take a lesson from the fundies and educate their children at home in areas of education that their school is lacking. Also, I would setup a few secular private schools that teach the full gamut of liberal arts education. Flip the model.

Not only is the President not stomping on his head, but if I remember correctly, Allen got invited to the White House shortly after he introduced this bill.

"If he had proposed banning all books by black writers, there's no doubt he'd be crucified."

In Alabama? Don't count on it.

By the way, I would wholeheartedly support teaching the Bible as literature or mythology in public schools (provided, of course, that it not be represented as and/or confused with/for science or history).

"If he had proposed banning all books by black writers, there's no doubt he'd be crucified."

In Alabama? Don't count on it.

By the way, I would wholeheartedly support teaching the Bible as literature or mythology in public schools (provided, of course, that it not be represented as and/or confused with/for science or history).

"If a certain recent book is to be believed, nothing by or about Abraham Lincoln either."

See, that's another benefit of secretly hoping this guy gets his way. I'd get a perverse joy out of the inevitable council that would come together to determine who was and who was not gay. We could all send in amicus briefs with proof of Alexander's and Lincoln's gaity. Wouldn't that get their knickers in a knot. They might even come to realize a few things.

Their basic argument was that the Bible was the true word of God, not literature, and they didn't want it discussed or analyzed in those terms.

Not surprised. A well-taught course on the Bible, with students and teachers capable of critical thinking and the asking of hard questions, would not make a fundamentalist church very happy. A Jesuit, maybe, but not a fundamentalist. :>

I'm reminded of a laugh-out-loud funny scene in episode 7 of Firefly:

Shepherd Book: "What are we up to, sweetheart?"

River: "Fixing your Bible."

SB: "I, um...(alarmed)...what?"

R: "Bible's broken. Contradictions, false logistics - doesn't make sense." (she's marked up the bible, crossed out passages)

SB: "No, no. You - you can't...

R: "So we'll integrate non-progressional evolution theory with God's creation of Eden. Eleven inherent metaphoric parallels already there. Eleven. Important number. Prime number. One goes into the house of eleven eleven times, but always comes out one. Noah's ark is a problem."

SB: "Really?"

R: "We'll have to call it early quantum state phenomenon. Only way to fit 5000 species of mammal on the same boat." (rips out page)

See, that's another benefit of secretly hoping this guy gets his way. I'd get a perverse joy out of the inevitable council that would come together to determine who was and who was not gay. We could all send in amicus briefs with proof of Alexander's and Lincoln's gaity. Wouldn't that get their knickers in a knot. They might even come to realize a few things.

Hah! There'd probably be all sorts of talk about things they consider "icky." "Well, he had sex with a man once, but later said he didn't enjoy it. Gay or not Gay?"

This kind of misguided buffoonery has been going on every year since I can remember. If you tried to keep up with every stupid bill some idiot in some state introduced you wouldn't have time for anything else in life.

Good point. I'm not sure if this is quite as nonintrusive as making pi officially identically equal to 3, though. Now, if they required it to be 3 in the textbooks, there's some room for mischief.

William Burroughs in a Jr. High or High School?

I had no idea; I thought they were talking Edgar Rice Burroughs. Either way, same reaction: I'm neither surprised nor unsurprised.

I'll defend the Bible class -- it's absolutely appropriate to teach the Bible, which is among the foundational documents of Western Civilization (if not the foundational documents). So long as it's optional and not an overtly religious class, I see no problem. (Indeed, my left-leaning college-town HS had a "Bible as Literature" class.)

As for the banning-gay-authors-thing: How freakin' gay. ;-)

(Alternatively: What Ed said.)

William Burroughs in a Jr. High or High School?

I think not! And no Hunter Thompson either, for that matter!

What is the freaking matter with you people! Aren't there any parents of high school kids here??

With all due respect, you may wish for your children to remain uninformed, but you have no right to limit the potential of other children to become the next Nobel Prize winning writer or find a cure for cancer. If a child seeks out a writer because of natural ability to comprehend their work, they should have access to it. Period. We're talking about LITERATURE here, not pornography. Bill Cosby stated it brilliantly: If they're old enough to ask the questions, they're old enough hear the answers.

If a certain recent book is to be believed, nothing by or about Abraham Lincoln either

No, you know perfectly well that the banned book would not be anything by Lincoln, but rather the book that made the claim that he was gay. See? Never happened. Look over there! Kerry's got French hair and wants to gay-marry Saddam!

Actually, certain people in Alabama probably wouldn't have a problem with banning anything by or about Lincoln, what with "the recent unpleasantness" and all (AKA "The War of Northern Aggression").

I have no problem with the Bible being taught as literature, but think back to your high school days. You had "American literature" and you had "World literature." Did you spend an entire year (as most high school course, as opposed to shorter college courses, are) reading one book though?

I read the book of "Job" in a literature course and thought it was perfectly appropriate....IN THAT CONTEXT. But a "Bible Course" before the university level is prosteltyzing, I'm sorry.

"William Burroughs in a Jr. High or High School?"

What, we read Naked Lunch in high school. Of course, we also dropped acid. I blame the Godless public school system.

Re: WSBurroughs for junior high schoolers -
the scene in NL where the boy is simultaneously hung and penetrated by a huge razor-sharp steel dildo and dies while climaxing for the enjoyment of a gathered crowd...well, that might be strong beer for the tween set. I don't know where that puts me in the censorship brigade, but, just to be honest, if I see my daughter's reading that book before she is, say, 14, I'm going to slap it out of her hands and hide it on a high shelf.

As for me, I read it when I was in 6th grade, but I am completely f**ked up, so I might not be the best example.

Part of the offensiveness of this is the assumption that children will be contaminated by the thoughts of a gay person even if the thoughts are not related to sexuality. After all, most gay writers don't confine themselves to the subject of gay issues. The authors mentioned upthread wrote about all sorts of things, yet we are to believe that their sexual orientation renders their views on all aspects of the human experience out 0f bounds.

Ah, see. . I sense a theme here. Raise your hand if you were a screwed-up deviant in high school but are absolutely convinced that your child will never be a screwed-up deviant in high school (i.e. are delusional)

They can read it in college.

you have no right to limit the potential of other children to become the next Nobel Prize winning writer

If Naked Lunch is your idea of Nobel Prize winning quality, well, ... ah wait, Yasser Arafat got a Nobel Peace Prize, so I guess cutting up sentences and pasting them together in random ways does qualify for a Nobel Prize.

I really do not think people have common sense anymore.

the fact that you don't want your daughter to read it suggests your not "completely f**ked up," st, but it also suggests that neither would she become so by reading it.

Actually, Hunter Thompson is only enjoyable in High School, if you ask me. But then my parents let me read "Ball Four" when I was 11.

Speaking of writers who I liked better when I was 16, maybe we could tell the Ala. Legislature that H.L. Mencken was straight and racist. That way he could become required reading.

If Naked Lunch is your idea of Nobel Prize winning quality, well, ... ah wait, Yasser Arafat got a Nobel Peace Prize, so I guess cutting up sentences and pasting them together in random ways does qualify for a Nobel Prize.

I really do not think people have common sense anymore.

Common sense tells me that the folks here reporting they read Naked Lunch in high school turned out to be very conscientious adults. Methinks you're underestimating your children, DaveC.


my stance is that barring literal abuse, parents have the freedom to stunt their children, because the only alternative is the state telling you how to parent, and that's horrible.

But that doesn't mean they are not doing them harm. The point you raised earlier was that the people who institute this policy will suffer from it. I disagree. The harm will be to others.

If you mean the children of other parents who disagree with this stance, I'm pretty confident they could take a lesson from the fundies and educate their children at home in areas of education that their school is lacking. Also, I would setup a few secular private schools that teach the full gamut of liberal arts education. Flip the model.

Some could. Some couldn't. Some have the education and the time and the money for books and materials needed to do home schooling and others don't. The same applies to paying for private schooling. You seem to be assuming that only well-educated upper middle class types will object. I don't agree.

I wonder if we can get Giblets and Fafnir to weigh in on this, I'm sure they will come up with a good explanation.

sidereal that must have been windowpane "not specificly good" so's you're all cramped up and messed up. Should have stuck with Mr. Natural.

Raise your hand if you were a screwed-up deviant in high school but are absolutely convinced that your child will never be a screwed-up deviant in high school (i.e. are delusional)

Ooh! Me! That's me! Right here!

So we get this in Alabama and Margaret Spelling, our Sec. of Ed on the front page of the Times today calling the people in CT challenging NCLB "Un-American". Just what we need, Roy Cohn as Sec. of Ed.

It's getting to be more bizarre by the day.

and that goes for the rest of you too!

Sorry, I want my kids to be as innocent for as long as possible. They are not the same as small adults.

Raise your hand if you were a screwed-up deviant in high school but are absolutely convinced that your child will never be a screwed-up deviant in high school (i.e. are delusional)

Are you kidding? My kid is /already/ a little hellion, and he's only 4. :> School age is going to be a special kind of torment for us.

I wholly reject the notion that children need to be protected from literature. It's anti-intellectualism and puritanism wrapped up in one self-delusional form of what borders on child abuse. I'm not saying you shove material they're not ready for into their hands, but if they seek it out, that suggests they're ready for it.

If I found my 12-year-old nephew reading Genet, I'd be alarmed, yes, but I'd suggest, matter-of-factly, that there are mature themes in that book he might want to ask me about and I'll be happy to explain the best way I can. Openness, not censorship.

Some of the arguments here would have been considered regressive in the Dark Ages, when most of the "children" we're talking about here would be having children of their own.

Think back people. Was there anything in Naked Lunch you and your friends weren't already joking about when your parents weren't listening?

If your kids are anything like me, DaveC, they're going to do their level best to escape innocence. Why, I recall when I was in 3rd grade, I happened upon someone's cache of Playboy and Penthouse magazines. Good reading, that. The articles, I mean.

So long as it's optional and not an overtly religious class, I see no problem.

I'll bet you $10 that neither of those conditions will be fulfilled.

"So long as it's optional and not an overtly religious class, I see no problem.

I'll bet you $10 that neither of those conditions will be fulfilled."

I'd take the bet on "optional" in the sense of not being required to graduate. On the other hand, the few who do not take it will find that social relations with the remainder of the student body is also optional.

On the other hand, the few who do not take it will find that social relations with the remainder of the student body is also optional.

well put!

And I suppose the school computers should be able to access any site whatsoever with no restrictions. Yeah, that'll educate 'em.

And I suppose the school computers should be able to access any site whatsoever with no restrictions. Yeah, that'll educate 'em.

Dave, I made a clear distinction between literature and pornography.

Ah, see. . I sense a theme here. Raise your hand if you were a screwed-up deviant in high school but are absolutely convinced that your child will never be a screwed-up deviant in high school (i.e. are delusional)

Wait a sec. There's a lot to be said about not reading books until you're mature enough to appreciate them. I'm a huge fan, for instance, of Paul Bowles. I sincerely think that he ranks up there with Camus as one of greatest existentialist writers of all time. Everyone should read the "Sheltering Sky" and his short stories. Yet, I wouldn't exactly suggest "Pages from Cold Point" as HS reading. Or "A Distant Episode," for that matter.

This doesn't always have to do with "deviancy" (or the lack thereof), by the bye.* F'instance, I've always thought that "Red Badge of Courage" is utterly wasted on everyone under 18. (On the other hand, Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" could probably be taught in junior high.)

von

*Although Bowles' "Pages," for all its tell-by-not-telling, is in some respects more deviant and disturbing than "Naked Lunch," which tells you everything (and then some). (You'll know what I mean if you read "Pages.")

Hey, what about David's love for Jonathan, surpassing the love of women?

Can we please get these disgusting copies of the Book of Psalms out of the libraries?

I confess to never having read Naked Lunch, nor ever having happened across it in a bookstore. Or seeing the movie, for that matter. Honestly, if I'd had any idea, I'd have been all over it. So to speak.

Ah, the angelic innocence of children.

Hey, we need cannon fodder for wars, and mouthbreathers to man our WalMarts. If Alabama wants to condemn its children to that, go for it. Less competition for my kids.

Wait a sec. There's a lot to be said about not reading books until you're mature enough to appreciate them.

totally agree...the thing is that if you are mature enough to appreciate them, you should have access to them, no?

And for the record, I agree that children are not the same as adults. Just we tend to idealize them in very unrealistic ways.

the scene in NL where the boy is simultaneously hung and penetrated by a huge razor-sharp steel dildo and dies while climaxing for the enjoyment of a gathered crowd...well, that might be strong beer for the tween set.

It would give them the context they need to comprehend Abu Ghraib.

Was there anything in Naked Lunch you and your friends weren't already joking about when your parents weren't listening?

Er, yes. See previous comment re: steely dan. I was, like, 11. There was LOTS of stuff in that book I hadn't thought about yet.

Some of the arguments here would have been considered regressive in the Dark Ages, when most of the "children" we're talking about here would be having children of their own.

Not sure what you mean here - just because sexual innocence was nigh-impossible during a brutal, pre-technological age of starvation and violence does not mean that such innocence has no value, or that parents that seek to protect it, or at least not be implicated in its loss, are all prudish troglodytes.

Besides which, lurking in the background is the undeniable fact that I am just too big a coward to have a frank, open discussion with my 11-year old daughter about the themes of the Naked Lunch. I could probably swing Catcher in the Rye, or maybe even Tropic of Cancer on a good day, but the water of Burroughs' harrowing, violent, drug-addled psychosexuality is just too deep for me in that context.

But, as sidereal illustrates, it's all denial. I have the book on my shelf, and if she reads it, she reads it. I don't anticipate her telling me about it over the dinner table. I certainly didn't mention it to my parents.

I think we're missing somthing important here.

Johnson said students in the elective class would learn such things as the geography of the Middle East and the influence of the Bible on history and culture.

No-one is being required to take this class.

No-one is being required to take this class.

Oh, but the peer pressure! She canna take much more o' this!

No-one is being required to take this class.

So long as they also offer elective courses on the Koran and Torah (etc.) as "literature and history," I'm all for it.

So long as they also offer elective courses on the Koran and Torah (etc.) as "literature and history," I'm all for it.

Yeah. I'd have no problem with, for instance, a Comparative Religion class or some such.

The debate is largely a waste of time. After elementary school, few kids read much of anything anymore. They play video games - mostly "Halo 2". Microsoft and the Bush Administration teaming up to prepare the next generation for invading Iran, as far as I can tell.

Edward,

Given that every year thousands of people die horribly over questions of whether or not God begets and who exactly is to be recognized as a prophet, it stands to reason that school kids ought to get introduced to religious ideas so they know what's going on.

MacAllen is dead right on the whole gay author thing. People introduce stupid legislation all the time. It's not a larger sign of anything. If every bill that got introduced into a legislature were an indication of creeping whatever, American politics would be much, much weirder.

We would, for example, be employing privateers in the WoT.

Argh!

elective class would learn such things as the geography of the Middle East

Great, so understanding geography is elective?

Let's not confuse content with authors. Sure, there is material people legitimately want to keep their kids away from. But why the assumption that this is what homosexual authors necessarily write? Just a look at the list in the post proves that this is not so.

Andy Nguyen and von,

The issue is not whether the course is elective. Public schools shouldn't be teaching sectarian religious courses, and that's what this is going to be.

And slarti, you can sneer at peer presure if you like, but it's real and powerful.

Given that every year thousands of people die horribly over questions of whether or not God begets and who exactly is to be recognized as a prophet, it stands to reason that school kids ought to get introduced to religious ideas so they know what's going on.

Agree...so long as it's pan-religious.

MacAllen is dead right on the whole gay author thing. People introduce stupid legislation all the time. It's not a larger sign of anything. If every bill that got introduced into a legislature were an indication of creeping whatever, American politics would be much, much weirder.

Again, if this State Representative had advocated banning all books by women, or Jews, or African Americans, or whatever, he'd be drawn and quartered in the sphere of public opinion.

Because it's gays he's targettting, he's a "misguided" buffoon or something equally comical, but harmless, to many people.

That's even more alarming, if you don't mind my saying so.

but it's real

Riiiight. When's the last time you saw anyone getting ragged on because of their course electives?

When's the last time you saw anyone getting ragged on because of their course electives?

Not recently, but I bet you could get your a** kicked in Texas or Alabama for taking Edward's projected Koran class.

Probably wouldn't get hassled about takin' Jesus 101, though. Interesting, that.

When's the last time you saw anyone getting ragged on because of their course electives?

You mean, besides band? ;)

Because it's gays he's targettting, he's a "misguided" buffoon or something equally comical, but harmless, to many people.

That's even more alarming, if you don't mind my saying so.

Well, my thoughts for what they are worth arethat this guy's a moron, but his bill's probably not even going to make it past the very first stage of whatever committee it's been introduced into and he's in a different state from me, and so there's not a lot for someone like me to do but think, "idiot," and go about my business.

I think if he were talking about something to do with other races or religions, I'd probably have the same thoughts.

The time to get outraged is when there's stuff going on that's part of a concerted effort that has real chance of passing. So getting furious about this nonsense over in Texas makes sense--it impinges upon a lot of people's rights and is a symptom of a large, well funded movement.

A grandstanding buffoon out in the middle of BFE, though, is not worth the effort.

Not recently, but I bet you could get your a** kicked in Texas or Alabama for taking Edward's projected Koran class.

Possibly. But, possibly, you could also get your assets kicked for taking band, in those places (h/t crionna).

The issue is not whether the course is elective. Public schools shouldn't be teaching sectarian religious courses, and that's what this is going to be.

Not to go all "Great Books" on you, but: You may despise or disagree with it, but you cannot understand Western Civilization or Culture without at least having at least a passing familiarity with the Bible. It absolutely should be taught.

"Wait a sec. There's a lot to be said about not reading books until you're mature enough to appreciate them."

I appreciate where you're coming from. . I certainly didn't get everything out of Pale Fire or even that godforsaken Wuthering Heights when I read them in high school. But I think they certainly did some good regardless, and I would say that the correct solution to that conundrum is to read them young and read them at least once more as an adult, so you make up for your innocence (except Wuthering Heights. Never read that again).

Not recently, but I bet you could get your a** kicked in Texas or Alabama for taking Edward's projected Koran class.

Probably wouldn't get hassled about takin' Jesus 101, though. Interesting, that.

I think that you are overestimating the political/religious involvement of teenagers by an enormous degree.

You mean, besides band? ;)

Well, there was this one time, at band camp...

"So long as they also offer elective courses on the Koran and Torah (etc.) as "literature and history," I'm all for it."

I'm pretty sure (though I can't be bothered to look it up right now) that the Torah is actually a subset of the Bible.

Either way, the Bible has clearly had a larger impact on our culture than most religious texts. It's also the best-selling literary work of all time. I think it's worth teaching students about.

-------

The idea of banning books by gay authors from school libraries is a bad idea. First of all, as lots of people have pointed out, that includes a significant portion of U.S. and World literature. But it's also denying students the ability to seek information. They aren't arguing about whether to teach these works in classrooms. They aren't arguing about whether to give these works to students. They are talking about taking it off library shelves -- where only students who are specifically looking for it will find it anyway. Removing the books doesn't protect anybody, because either way they are only accessible to students who:
(a) Already know they exist and
(b) Already know enough about them to want to read them.

Denying those students access to the information they seek accomplishes nothing.

Yeah, that's pretty dumb, and I'd oppose it--much as I thought the people who wanted to ban Huckleberry Finn from school libraries because it used a certain six-letter word starting with "n" deserved to be slapped down. There are plenty of nuts out there who want to ban books, and neither side of the political spectrum has a monopoly on them.

And slarti, you can sneer at peer presure if you like, but it's real and powerful.

Slightly OT, but I firmly believe that one of the most important things you teach your kids is how to understand peer pressure, the insecurities behind it, and how to thwart its alleged power.

[We now return you to the regularly scheduled episode of Fahrenheit 451]

I'm pretty sure (though I can't be bothered to look it up right now) that the Torah is actually a subset of the Bible.

Most or all of the Old Testament, it is. But I doubt if you'd get rabbinical scholars to agree that the various Old Testament interpretations are the same as the Torah. Plus, the Torah, technically, is only the books of Moses, while in a broader sense it's inclusive of the books of the prophets as well.

Not to go all "Great Books" on you,

And another thing--anyone jumping all over this issue who has ever let the phrase "dead white males" cross their lips as anything but a contemptuous retort to the left-wing nuts who use it in all seriousness, is a hypocrite of the first order.

OT, but since Catsy mentioned Firefly, the trailer for Serenity is up.

Serenity NOW!

Sorry...Seinfeld flashback.

The time to get outraged is when there's stuff going on that's part of a concerted effort that has real chance of passing.

You mean efforts like this one in Texas, or this in Maine, or this in Virginia, or this in Louisiana?

None of these is limited to the issue of "marriage" either...they're about other rights, like the right to make contracts or be free from discrimination or be a foster parent. There are a lot of "grandstanding buffoons" out there hellbent on making life more difficult for me and mine. When is it OK for me to be outraged?

Well, there was this one time, at band camp...

Ahhhh, memories.

Slarti,

Nobody's going to get ragged on for taking French instead of Spanish. Religion is a different matter. There are places in this country where fundamentalist religion is very strong, almost suffocating, and this in fact carries over into the schools. In that kind of environment there will be pressure to take the (badly taught) Bible class. Absolutely.

Von,

Nothing wrong with what you say in the abstract, but as a matter of practical reality the Bible is just not going to be studied in a neutral, scholarly way. You're kidding yourself if you think otherwise. What happens when the teacher mentions that Genesis, or the whole Bible, might be allegorical, or that there were various authors, or...And if the teacher doesn't discuss those things then it's religious indoctrination, not a literature class.

A. Reeves -
And I think you are underestimating "by an enormous degree" the drive of teenagers to seize onto anything that makes someone different and smash them over the head with it.

"godforsaken Wuthering Heights"

A correct description, which is what makes it great. Love that book, and my taste runs to Celine and Naked Lunch. Perhaps you haven't realized how dark it is.

Thread drew a crowd, one of them blog clusters. Point is, point is, point is homophobia is way way too acceptable in ths country, and seems to be an accelerating fashion accessory among the drooling crowd.

Absolutely.

That's a word I usually reserve for when I know. So, can I assume that this is true of you, or that you have different standards?

Uh, Edward, my point of the last entry was the stuff going on in TX and other states on gay adoption &c. *is* the sort of thing to get outraged about, but that the whole author issue was a sideshow.

It would be interesting to know what arguments were put forth at the meetings in Texas. My bet is that the proponents of this Bible class do not want it to be taught as literature or analyzed within a context.
Parts of the Bible are included in our tenth grade textbook, along with parts of the Koran, some Tao poetry and a few snippets from other traditions. I have taught the Bible sections to classes which had fundamentalist students. The first thing they say is that every word is true. The next thing that happens is some other student challenges literal interpetation. This isn't a problem here in mellow Western Washington where the fundamentalist students are African American and not haters, but in Texas I can see how the teacher would be under pressure, from parents as well as students, to take sides. As I mentioned before, an experiment in teaching the Bible as literature over in Eastern Washington(red state part of our state) failed because parents insisted that the Bible be taught like a conventinal textbook ie memorize data, believe it all, get tested on facts, no discussion of historical context. The purpose of the class is critical, and that depends on the attitude of the parents.

Point is, point is, point is homophobia is way way too acceptable in ths country, and seems to be an accelerating fashion accessory among the drooling crowd.

Bingo!

Every opportunist with an eye on a political career is finding some new law he/she can sponsor demonizing gays. Next thing you know, they'll be drafting legislation to ban clothes designed by gays, or music written by gays, or TV shows with gay characters, or Christmas songs with the word "gay" in them, and ALWAYS with an eye toward "protecting their children."

The irony about this particular effort is that there are most definitely children who stand to be hurt by this. And not just the straight children who will get second-class educations, but the gay children of Alabama, who, like I did, will search desperately for books that help them cope in an otherwise hostile environment. Books that show them they are not alone. Books by GREAT writers, who just happen to be gay.

That was a crucial part of my development as a teen. Denying that to Alabama's gay youth is child abuse.

And another thing--anyone jumping all over this issue who has ever let the phrase "dead white males" cross their lips as anything but a contemptuous retort to the left-wing nuts who use it in all seriousness, is a hypocrite of the first order.

Really? I have always found the whole "dead white males" thing to be a pretty wrongheaded and simplistic chunk of PC blather, but I never heard it employed in the service of actually banning the works of said dead white males. Rather, that tired phrase tended to get rolled out as part of an argument against limiting the canon only to such authors. So I don't really see how someone arguing to extend the canon beyond a single category can be compared to someone who is seeking to eliminate an entire category from consideration. I certainly don't see how the former can be considered "a hypocrite of the first order" for condemning the latter.

Ted Barlow: Go to a library, any library, and you'll be surrounded by books by people about whom you know nothing. Is R.L. Stine straight? Are they going to start sending letters to every publisher, asking for a list of gay authors?

Given that the Texas bill against gay foster parents apparently provides for investigations into the sexual orientation of current and potential foster parents, this might not be such a stretch.

After googling on the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, the group behind the Odessa effort, I find that they are backed by
Center">http://www.reclaimamerica.org/">Center for Reclaiming America and http://www.afa.net/ "> American Family Association .

Anyone who thinks these organizations are just interested in teaching the Bible as a literary work might want to check their web sites.

You might also want to check out this article about Elizabeth Ridenour, head of NCBCPS.

As far as my use of "absolutely" goes, I would say I use it not just when I know, but sometimes when I only know. Soas a theoretical matter is it conceivable that there will not be the pressure I describe? Yes. But I consider the probability negligible.

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