One of the cornerstones of our American society freedom of thought; a freedom to access ideas. I’ve come across another article of a book being banned from schools. Apparently some parents were outraged that the book, Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part Time Indian”, discusses masturbation. These parents were shocked, SHOCKED, that sixth graders think about sex.
Bowing to pressure from the outraged parents and after inquiries from the Daily News, the principal of Public School/Middle School 114 in Rockaway Park announced Wednesday that “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” was no longer required reading. By Clare Trapasso / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS PUBLISHED: THURSDAY, AUGUST 1, 2013
The headline for the piece was “Queens sixth-graders no longer must read racy ‘Diary of Part-Time Indian’. Really? Racy? The book IN ITS ENTIRETY is a fictionalized account of Alexie’s own coming of age, including the hardships he faced as a teen torn between two worlds. If we don’t expose our children to injustice, it doesn’t exist, it seems. The novel addresses other subjects also, such as; alcoholism, bullying and poverty.
Hardly the trash story as it was described:
“It’s about . . . masturbation — which is not appropriate for my child to learn at 11,” said Kelly-Ann McMullan-Preiss, 39, of Belle Harbor, who refused to let her son read the book. “It was like ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ for kids.”
Fifty Shades? I hardly think so. “Fifty Shades of Grey” was at its outset meant to be an erotic novel that was panned by critics for among other things its poor structure and poor style.
Alexie’s book, on the other hand, won several awards including:
- 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature
- 2008 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Fiction and Poetry
- 2009 Odyssey Award as the year’s “best audiobook for children or young adults”, read by Alexie (Frederick, MD: Recorded Books, LLC, 2008, ISBN 1-4361-2490-5).
- 2010 California Young Reader Medal, Young Adult Book
The comparison doesn’t hold water.
So what is it then? I’m left wondering if the parents that objected to the book weren’t given the chance to have a different book assigned to their own children. Did they even ask? If the parents involved didn’t ask for an alternate assignment or refused one that was given, what was it then?
I’m of a notion that this brouhaha is over something more insidious. Something that can best be summed up as, “I find this objectionable so your child can’t read this.” An extremely loud, extreme minority of a mind that it has the right to make parenting decisions for the majority. Talk about arrogance!
It’s the same mentality that gives the supposed right to a minority to make decisions about entertainment that other adults can have access to. “I find this lewd or obscene so you can’t consume it.” Often without seeing, reading or hearing the material in question. Ignorance and arrogance are a dangerous combination.
Freedom of access to ideas truly is central to our society. Without it how can we hope to correct what our problems are? This includes introducing our children to things that aren’t the best, shining facets of what we are. Let’s teach kids the disappearing art critical thinking early.
Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads. –George Bernard Shaw