Thursday, May 3, 2007

Things That Get My Goat

A lot on my plate right now, and I've gotten sucked into WoW. But that's not why I'm here.

I'm here because of close-minded people who forget that what makes America a great country is that it is a free, democratic society, and that we have the right to free speech. Maureen Johnson, a YA author, has had her book Bermudez Triangle banned in Bartlesville, OK.

I've never read Bermudez Triangle. But it is about three girls who are friends. One goes away over the summer, and the other two begin a relationship. The book is about how relationships affect (effect? Can't remember, too lazy to check.) their friendships.

The Objection, officially, is underage drinking, sexual content, and homosexual content. But there is no sex in the book, only kissing, according to everything I can find. So really, the objection is homosexuality.

I’m shocked and appalled at the lack of discretion, and moral decline in the selection of books at the Mid-High library. Homosexual content, unprotected sex, underage drinking, and reckless promiscuity are not values that belong in a school library. I understand there are parents or teens who are dealing with these issues, but not all parents want their kids exposed to this material. Personally, I would not endorse any of these types of book as “14-and-15-year-old-friendly.” Giving teenagers knowledge without guidance is irresponsible and dangerous. As a parent, I screen my 15-year-old’s television, Internet, video game, magazines, and books. There are things she’s not mature enough to handle, or are simply wrong for her. Parents are a child’s best line of defense in a world that rushes to grow them up too soon. This book, “The Bermudez Triangle” has no moral fiber, and wrongly promotes a “do whomever you want to discover yourself” mentality. There’s no mention of the myriad of diseases, pregnancy, destruction of friendships and lives that are very real consequences of a “sexual free-for-all” decision. I ask that his material be removed at once. You have a responsibility to the children at school to protect them and educate them. Let’s raise the bar a little higher, respect moral values and a parent’s right to guard that which has been entrusted to their care.

Let's leave aside the fact that she's screening everything that her daughter consumes, meaning her daughter will never learn to think on her own because her mother is underestimating her daughter's faculties of judgment and intelligence.

Let's instead focus on the fact that she is promoting close-minded, bigoted thinking. That she is limiting the flow of ideas and information for not just her daughter, but for the entire Bartlesville school district.

Let's instead focus on the fact that only two people involved in the decision had read the book--the librarian protesting it, and one parent, presumably the banner. NONE of the committee members who made the decision read the book. What kind of message is that sending? How irresponsible! Bartlesville School Board, you should be ashamed of yourselves. What happened to the right to a fair trial? It's just a book, you say, but once you start dismissing fairness in one area, it follows in others. Once you start limiting people's access to information, books, and ideas, you don't stop. You start to think you know better than everyone else.

You don't. You know just as much, and are just as equipped to make decisions for other people as the other people are. Less, in fact, because you aren't them and don't know what they want, need, and can or cannot handle. I'm not arguing with a mother's right to control what her child does while that child is a minor. I'm arguing with that mother's insistence on controlling what OTHER children have access to. I'm arguing with people making decisions in ignorance.

So far, a few bloggers and the Human Rights Campaign have picked up the cause. Mediabistro has an article, as well. Get the word out. Stop book banning. Take a look at the most frequently challenged books--you might be surprised at what's on the list.

x-posted to my el-jay, since no one reads this.


hunterjenn said...

It's so sad when a few people think they get to decide what's best for everybody! I get a kick out of her point: "Giving teenagers knowledge without guidance is irresponsible and dangerous." Fine, and maybe I agree, but aren't YOU as a parent responsible for that guidance? Why does the school board have to be responsible for patrollling the specific standards you have for your child? If every book that every parent didn't like was banned, what would be left? How about teaching your child to make good choices? How about keeping the pre-screening at home? Yeesh.

Stine said...

I know, it upsets me when adults don't get kids enough credit for intelligence and judgment.

But I really am most upset that no one who made the decision read the article!

Re the pre-screening at home: some people just really think they know better than everyone else. ARGH.

Geek Knitter said...

Oh, this just makes my blood boil! When I was a kid there was a big fuss over My Brother Sam Is Dead. They yanked it from our school library for about a month. I marched right down to the public library to check it out, just to see what all the fuss was about! I've never been able to abide the idea that just because somebody doesn't like book/photograph/painting it gives them the right to keep me from seeing it!

jenovus said...

I do too read your damn hell ass blog X(