Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Squidoo's Banned Book Group

Here's the beginning of a follow-up on banned books. This Squidoo group is a good resource for a reasoned discussion on the subject.


Anonymous said...

Please tell us you would not advocate that the Anarchist Cookbook and American Psycho should be assigned reading for 13 and 14 year-olds. The former is a "how to" on bomb making and clandestine methods of assassination, among other nefarious activities; and the level of graphic violence of the latter is simply not appropriate for young teens. Please tell us you would not allow your 13 or 14 year-old to read those.

You're confusing the matter, though: banning books from libraries and getting books removed from reading lists are entirely different. It's obvious to me that the only way you see that you can argue this issue without looking like a lunatic is to conflate the removal of books from a public school reading list with the banning of books from public libraries. You're hiding behind an abstract (and non applicable) concept of censorship. That's cowardly, but understandable because you cannot argue the point without looking like a fruit cake.

Stand your ground, honor my challenge and post the text I supplied to you; then justify against the text posted why you believe 13 and 14 year-olds should be assigned drug and profanity-infested, deviant and pedophilic garbage like Whale Talk and Perks of a Wallflower. These are not uplifting "coming of age stories"; they're celebrations of sociopathology.

Anonymous said...

Getting books removed from lists IS censorship...what else can it be? If a book is removed due to objectionable content and not due to lack of eduational value, this can be nothing else but censorship. Is the meaning of this word too intimidating for you? Because the result of this is suppressing freedom of expression no matter who does it, even the public school and its officials. The point you seem to be missing is that it is about the process and not about the content. See, the content may be objectionable to you, but not to someone else. This is where CHOICE comes in. Even if you, as a parent, sincerely feel that a book is objectionable and you are wanting to keep certain forms of expression and ideas from your be it; you indeed have that right as a parent and that indeed should be respected, and I respect that. The new Olentangy literature process I feel was established to appease a minority of parents who seem to be screaming the loudest. I believe the vast majority of district parents do support academic freedom and creative license. However, this literature process is actually a good thing because you have a choice as a parent. But keep in mind that you do not choose for my child. That is why a number of books and alternative selections are included in the process.

This minority of parents out there want to decide for EVERYONE. No will not prejudge material for my child. You will not push your values on me...keep them your own. I certainly do not wish to push my values on you.Again, this is a reading list with alternatives built to suit you.

Another CHOICE you have is to homeschool your child if this process is not working well for you.

Remember..."Books are dangerous...They make you think...feel...wonder...They make you ask questions. This is what I want for my child.

Anonymous said...

It looks like another angry teacher has come to Tim's defense. C'mon, Tim--defend yourself. Calling out your cowardice is getting tiresome (well, not really). Just rise to my challenge of posting the excerpts I provided of the two books that were removed from the Olentangy reading list and defend why you believe they are appropriate for 13 and 14 year-olds. I’d also like to see you argue why teachers should be allowed to assign “The Anarchist Cookbook” and “American Psycho”, but bravery—like logic—takes time to develop, so I see your predicament.

"Getting books removed from lists IS censorship...what else can it be?" Responsible. Once upon a time it was called "standards". And once upon a time an adult would have faced criminal charges for presenting the kind of material to 13 year-olds that Olentangy English teachers assign them today.

What if my child wanted to add a book to the list, but the subject did not comport with the teacher's agenda, er, "educational objective" and (s)he denied it? Wouldn't that be censorship? After all, it’s my child’s right—and mine as a parent—that she have access to any book she wishes to read, right? To Tim Eby this kind of public school access now includes “The Anarchist Cookbook” and “American Psycho”.

Teachers are the most active censors in the public school system. On a daily basis they dictate the limits of our kids’ speech and expression (spoken and written word, and artwork); and our kids’ movement and assembly (when and where they move and congregate)—all of which are Constitutional rights. And, like it or not, the same limitations on speech and expression are also imposed on student journalists writing for school newspapers. Limits on student speech and expression, movement and assembly are determined by the administration and school board; and teachers are the enforcement mechanism. I’m sorry…what was that nonsense about “choice” the previous writer posted? Nevermind.

Previous writer also posted: “If a book is removed due to objectionable content and not due to lack of educational value, this can be nothing else but censorship”. If you believe this statement applies to the removal of “Whale Talk” and “Perks of Being a Wallflower” from reading lists assigned to 13 and 14 year-olds then argue your point—not more redundant definitions of censorship without contextual specificity. Not only are these two books poorly written and not worthy of consideration as serious literature, but the dubious (literature) Learning Objective of “discuss(ing) social issues” that served as the basis for their selection is not even mapped to the English curriculum.

Sadly, the deficit of judgment that led to these selections shows that it is the teachers who lack “educational value”.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, writer, your are still missing the point between process and content...See, I am not at this blog to change your mind. But I see you here trying to change the minds of others. You want to choose for everyone...I have the satisfaction of knowing you will never do that. Your argument is bland and trite and full of sarcasm based on emotion only.

Tim Eby said...

The irony of someone calling themselves "anonymous" using the term cowardice cannot be ignored... along with the "angry" name-calling.

Also, the comments from another anonymous post is posted on this blog that addresses the so-called challenge.

More to come.

Anonymous said...

7:30 am:

My goodness. Not only do you not know what you're talking about re. censorship, curricula and the public school system but you can't even recognize the difference between reasoned debate and emotional drivel. The "process vs. content" nonsense you hang your pseudo argument on was addressed in my previous post. The books were chosen to satisfy a learning objective that was so far removed from the English curriculum map that it was unrecognizable to any sane person. So, as a fundamental matter the books should never have been considered because they offered no educational value beyond providing examples of “marginalized characters” to analyze (which, again, is not an English learning objective). On academic merits, surely you’re not going to debate that the text in question presented examples of well-written English for students to learn from (please reference the excerpts I provided).

Due process was given in the form of administrative review that included the principal, Director of Education and Superintendent, and they all concurred that “…Wallflower” was inappropriate. As far as your dopey argument about “alternative selections”, “Looking for Alaska” was an alternative selection for “…Wallflower”…and then the adults in charge discovered that it was actually less suitable for 13 year-olds than “…Wallflower” so the principal pulled that one as well. No censorship took place. Administrators applied discretion and common sense to an issue where wacky teachers were unable.

I've presented fact upon fact and have requested over and over someone speak to the issue at hand and all I have received in response are shrill condemnations of "book burner!". You have presented nothing to support your stance on this issue; just shrill soapbox proclamations of "YOU won't make choices for MY child!". Forgive me…who's the emotional party in this dialogue?

Who’s mind am I trying to change? Retrograde Tim Eby? You? Please…One has to have a mind first before it can be changed. The idea of getting anyone on this blog to even debate the issue at hand intelligently reveals how baseless your position is, and that you have nothing to present but rhetoric from banned book sites. Beyond simplistic, misunderstood definitions of censorship and erroneous beliefs about how it relates to public schools you have nothing to present.

Anonymous said...

Whoa. Tim comes out of the shadows. If but for a hit-n-run sniping and quick retreat.

Given that we have children in the public school system and that the teachers have contempt for parents who actually call them out for their lack of judgment (confirmed by administration actions) "anonymous" is in the best interest of ensuring that my child is not treated by angry teachers as we are. Trust me, I would have no problem debating this with you by name if this was not a concern.

Anonymous said...

"One has to have a mind first" "wacky teachers". I will not respond to this name calling anymore....embedded in your argument are put downs and sarcasm, which reflects the kind of person you probably are.

You will be in my prayers. Have a good day.....

Anonymous said...

FYI: I wrote a draft for Stephen Chbosky for a follow-up to "The Perks of Being a Wallflower". It's called "The Perks of Being a Wallflower on My Own Blog". It's about a boy, Tim, who fancies himself as a vanguard in the fight against censorship. He runs a blog and posts wacky views that are not very well thought out and then cowers when he's challenged to explain his reasoning. It's a wonderful coming-to-reality story.

You boldly (in your mind) posted anti-censorship propaganda to protest the removal of a book from the reading list of Olentangy 13 year-olds (calling out the lady who bravely stood up to this nonsense by name, tsk tsk). But you refuse to argue why "...Wallflower" or "Whale Talk" should be assigned to 13 year-olds when the text of the books was provided. Then you ignore my challenge to argue for these books in a dedicated post, excerpts included. Then I requested clarification when you implid that "The Anarchist Cookbook", "American Psycho", "I Want to F**K Ronald Reagan" among other books, should be made available to 13 year-olds via Olentangy public schools, with no response. You refused to explain your nonsense time and again.

Why? Because you know your positions are as baseless and illogical as they are outside of the mainstream. As Mighty Station Manager of NPR you have an image to maintain and you know that no one can argue for assigning books to 13 year-olds that portray drug use as positive; contain copious amoutns of the foulest language, rape, beastiality and promote pedophilia-as-therapy, and not look like a lunatic. This is why you hide.

Good luck with your blog.

Tim Eby said...

Somewhere along this thread "anonymous" wrote about the issue with the student newspapers at OHS and OLHS.

It may surprise "anonymous" to learn of my opinion on this subject. In the world of Old Media (newspapers, radio, TV) the owner of the printing press or broadcast license should have the final editorial control of the publication.

The unfortunate aspect of what's happened with the school newspapers is that the governing authority had not established the ground rules for what should or shouldn't be included in the publication.

In the world of New Media where -- thanks to blogging, You Tube, Twitter, etc. -- everyone has a printing press and media channel and this type of control is gone.

So if the students ar our high schools in Olentangy believe they should be publishing content that school authorities find objectionable they should start their own web site and promote like crazy through word of mouth at the school. This would be admirable.

My comment in the earlier blog post dealt more the quote from the School Board member than with the decision itself.

Although, I'll reiterate that the Board and Superintendent should have clarified its editorial guidelines prior to the publication of the articles -- it sounds like it didn't. The students then should have been encouraged to use alternative means to publish the pieces if it didn't fit within the editorial mission of the school publications.

In the Old Media World, gatekeepers exist and should be held accountable. In the Digital World, those who write, even those wishing to remain anonymous, are held to individual accountability.

In the case of books being pulled from reading lists and Monday morning quarterbacking of school newspapers, the result is that the critical thinking opportunities and skills so critical for our children's future success is harmed.

Anonymous said...

You really must live in an alternative universe. Your references to "Old Media World", "New Media World", "Digital World", "gatekeepers" and the like read more like science fantasy than relate to current Olentangy school issues. Next you'll refer to the School Board president as the Lord of the Rings.

"…the Board and Superintendent should have clarified its editorial guidelines prior to the publication of the articles". Please...the student "journalists" are assigned a teacher-mentor to provide editorial oversight. She either didn't use common sense or provided no oversight. Only someone with your wacky worldview could believe that "editorial guidelines" are needed to know that a debate on oral sex and a guide to "running the bases" (“getting laid”) don't belong in a high school newspaper. Would you let your 9th grader choose those topics for a research paper? Earth to Tim?

This is just another example of using sophistry and convolution to steer the subject off the path of logic and into Neverland. It is reflexive for people who live in your alternative universe to blame process for the failed choices of individuals. Just as you used this kind of nonsense to explain away the recent newspaper debacle, similar semantics were also used to explain away the terrible judgment of teachers in the book selection debacle. "Poor book selection wasn't the teachers' fault...they just don't know the book selection process yet" is how the Director of Education portrayed their indiscretions, when the teachers were familiar with the books and (mis)judged them to be suitable for assignment. He offered up his teachers as incompetents rather than admit that they chose that garbage-wrapped-as-education with purpose. To admit otherwise would have changed the focus of the inquiry from “how” to “why” and the resulting qualitative analysis of the teachers’ selections would have revealed that the Olentangy District English Department is a rogues’ gallery of social engineers disguised as language arts educators.

You concede that "...the owner of the printing press or broadcast license should have the final editorial control of the publication." Yeah, no kidding Mr. Broadcast Professional (was researching this what took you so long to show yourself?). In the case of public schools the "owner" is the taxpayer who sets the standards of speech and expression allowable in our schools (albeit through their elected school board and the administration). If you knew this then why did you blindly shriek "censorship!" and disparage those who urged the administration to enforce standards and “editorial control” regarding book selection and the school newspapers? You knew this from the outset of your original post and you were being dishonest.

The newspapers contained a lot of objectionable language and themes, including a debate on oral sex and "how to effectively run the bases" to a home run ("getting laid"). If you'd be proud to see your daughters post that kind of banter on the world wide web--like you encourage Olentangy student journalists to do--then you go on and encourage your kids to do that. That you would splendor to see teachers encourage students to post their sexual exploits online is just a bit creepy.

As a result of all of this "censorship" that you conceded is not censorship at all, you proclaim "In the case of books being pulled from reading lists and Monday morning quarterbacking of school newspapers, the critical thinking opportunities and skills so critical for our children's future success is harmed". So, you're saying that the kids are being deprived of educational experiences due to censorship that has not occurred, and does not occur because the Board and administration have “editorial control” (“final say”) of the books that are assigned to students and what student journalists are allowed to publish. You're either confused about your own position or you're being dishonest again.’s really simple…back to reality…no flourishing prose on abstract “New Media World” nonsense…explain to us how the removal of garbage books from our kids' reading lists that portray drug use as positive; contain copious amounts of the foulest language, rape, bestiality and promote pedophilia-as-therapy are harmful their intellectual development. Explain how including a debate on oral sex and tips on getting laid in the high school newspaper makes students better journalists. Explain how one can expect first rate learning from the use of third rate books.