Friday, March 24, 2006

Good News in San Antonio and Oklahoma!

Never let it be said that AS IF! only posts bad news! After all, a very important part of our mission is not just to protest intellectual suppression, but also to support and salute people and organizations when they do the right thing. So I am very pleased to report not one, but two pieces of very good news.

First, a San Antonio school board has reversed the ban on The Handmaid's Tale:
By a 5-2 vote, the Judson school district board Thursday overruled Superintendent Ed Lyman's ban of the novel "The Handmaid's Tale" from an advanced placement English curriculum. The vote came after nearly three hours of public comment, including from Judson High School students.

"If we do ban 'The Handmaid's Tale' because of sexual content, then why not ban 'Huckleberry Finn' for racism? Why not ban 'The Crucible' for witchcraft? Why not ban 'The Things They Carried' for violence, and why not ban the Bible and argue separation of church and state?" Judson senior Craig Gagne told trustees.
Better still, over in Oklahoma, it looks like that reprehensible bill that would segregate all gay-themed children's and teen books in public libraries (see below) may not pass after all. Amanda Kuhns, one of the many courageous librarians fighting this in Oklahoma, has this report:
I have an Oklahoma update.

HB 2158 has been assigned to the education subcommittee of the appropriations committee of the State Senate. This committee has until April 7 to take action on the bill. If the measure comes out of committee and is scheduled for Senate debate, then we’ll be doing another letter/e-mail/phone call campaign to state senators. The good news is that the Senate leadership has assured our Oklahoma Library Association lobbyist that HB 2158 will not come out of committee -- it may not even make it on an agenda for discussion. Administration tells us to remain "watchful" though, as the issue is far from over. While the bill might be dead, it is possible that another piece of legislation could be amended with the language of HB 2158.

We're keeping the heat on, and I'll keep you posted....
Sometimes the good guys (and girls) do win! Three cheers for Oklahoma!

8 Comments:

Anonymous Emilia said...

Jeez, how dare Oklahoma Representatives try to do what parents believe should be done?! Imagine: not allow minor children to benefit from such wonderful masterpieces like the "Handmaide's Tale" or "Push"! They SHOULD read things like:

"...there are six more bodies hanging, by the necks, there hands tied [their] heads in white bags... Sometimes they’ll be there for days... hanging from hooks... My... skirt is hitched up to my waist. Below it the Commander is fucking.... [A]n old porno film, from the 70’s or 80’s. Women kneeling, sucking penises or guns, woman tied up or chained or with dog collars around their necks... hanging from trees... upside-down, naked,... legs held part, women being raped, beaten up, killed. [A] woman slowly cut into pieces, fingers and breasts snipped off with garden shears, her stomach slit open and her intestines pulled out." (The Handmaid's Tale)
and
"....knowing a man can put his dick in you , gush white stuff in your booty you could get pregnant. I’m 12 now, I been knowing about that since I was five or six... always known about pussy and dick... fucking my husband you nasty little slut... Fat cunt bucket slut! Nigger pig bitch!... mother fuckers... should KILL you!" (Push)

So THAT is literature for minors! Wow... Look at what I missed, reading Voltaire, Camus, Molière, Goethe, Henry James, Kafka, Maugham when I was 17!!!!

11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really think that literature exposing the brutality of rape (and condemning it) is not appropriate for a 17 year-old? Literature detailing child abuse is not to be discussed? Have you ever actually MET a 17 year-old?

Many of the authors you cite wrote in a time when the existence of rape and child abuse was literally defended and denied. But "classic" authors such as Chaucer, James Joyce, Herman Hesse, and MANY others did, in fact, deal with explicit language and intense themes in their works. Should these authors be banned to?

Without a doubt, literature deals with some heavy themes. That's what literature is supposed to do. And I'm sorry, but I've worked with hundreds of high school students, and I don't see them as they immature idiots that you seem to think they are.

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Mark L. Williams said...

where to begin? With the fact that Voltaire, Camus, and Kafka have all been censored, and earlier counterparts to this poster would not have wanted her reading their work when she was 17?

With the fact that the quotes are taken out of context -- an old censor's trick -- and do not impart the impact/feeling/intent of the original story?

Or with the fact that at 17, you are but one year away from being old enough to torture, rape and kill "for your country," but not old enough, evidently, to read about those things, on the off chance such instances could be reduced...?

2:18 PM  
Blogger Lisa Yee said...

No one is saying "They SHOULD read things like: . . ." the selective lines in the book you've pulled out. Only that books be available to those who choose to read them. Also, the parts you quoted should be read within the context of the novels themselves.

Would you also censor newspapers that report on the carnage of war?

5:41 PM  
Blogger Rosemary Graham said...

If the Oklahoma people have their way, Voltaire's going to have to be in the adults only section, too. Candide is full of rape and the sexual enslavement of women. Not to mention lusty lesbian handmaids and cannibals, too.

The following excerpts are from chapters 11 and 12 of Smollett's 18th c translation. A contemporary translation would, no doubt, have a different sound.

"I already began to inspire the men with love. My breast began to take its right form, and such a breast! white, firm, and formed like that of the Venus de’ Medici . . . My maids, when they dressed and undressed me, used to fall into an ecstasy in viewing me before and behind; and all the men longed to be in their places."

"The Moors presently stripped us as bare as ever we were born. My mother, my maids of honor, and myself, were served all in the same manner. It is amazing how quick these gentry are at undressing people. But what surprised me most was, that they made a rude sort of surgical examination of parts of the body which are sacred to the functions of nature. . . . I afterwards learned that it was to discover if we had any diamonds concealed."

"A Moor seized my mother by the right arm, while my captain’s lieutenant held her by the left; another Moor laid hold of her by the right leg, and one of our corsairs held her by the other. In this manner almost all of our women were dragged by four soldiers. . .
at length I saw all our Italian women and my mother mangled and torn in pieces."

"Being reduced to the extremity of famine, they found themselves obliged to kill our two eunuchs, and eat them rather than violate their oath. But this horrible repast soon failing them, they next determined to devour the women.

We had a very pious and humane man, who gave them a most excellent sermon on this occasion, exhorting them not to kill us all at once. ‘Cut off only one of the buttocks of each of those ladies,’ said he, ‘and you will fare extremely well; if you are under the necessity of having recourse to the same expedient again, you will find the like supply a few days hence."

10:53 PM  
Anonymous Emilia said...

Rosemary, refresh my memory --I read Voltaire when I was 17, 30 years ago. Which of his books has graphic depiction of sex? Maybe the original version in French had these parts censored, and that is why I never read them...

4:54 PM  
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8:21 PM  

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