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Live Free or Die?

Bedford (NH) High School is under siege, if one complaining family that always gets its way counts as a siege.

Back in December, some religious fanatics complained that their son was assigned “Nickel and Dimed” as part of a required personal finance class. Their objection wasn’t that the book ignores any evidence that contradicts the ideology of the author, which it does, but that it calls Jesus a wine-guzzling socialist.

Getting offended by the politics and selective reasoning of “Nickel and Dimed” is one thing, but getting offended by one line is just silly.

They decided to homeschool their son because of it, which should have settled the matter. You don’t want to expose your children to beliefs other than your own, go ahead and warp the child. We’ve got plenty of other children in the country we can raise to be adults capable of ignoring wine-guzzling socialists instead being offended by them.

But then the school removed the book from the class, claiming that the removal had nothing to do with the complaining parents and the controversy they started. Maybe.

The claim was that the book was irrelevant to personal finance. I found the book tedious, but I vaguely recall negative lessons about personal finance. It’s been a long time since I read it, but as I recall the book is full of people who have made bad personal decisions about money and everything else.

While the author implies that socialism is the solution, there are lessons conservatives of the non-evangelical variety should like. Though the author does her best to mute alternative interpretations of the lives of her subjects, it’s not that hard to do.

It sucks to be poor. So work hard in school, get a job, have a strong work ethic, get married, stay married, both of you work, don’t do drugs, don’t gamble, don’t spend more than you make, don’t have children while you’re a teenager or single parent, and guess what? Your chance of being poor is slim. Conservatism is about good sense and good values and personal responsibility.

And now there’s a second book being challenged at the same school, by the same parents! But wait, you say, aren’t they homeschooling the delicate youngster who didn’t like “Nickel and Dimed”? Yes, they are. but they have another son that they dared expose to the atheistic socialism so rampant at BHS, apparently only so they could find something else to complain about.

The book was assigned in a short intersession course their child voluntarily signed up for, which makes it even more bizarre. Unlike “Nickel and Dimed,” this was required reading for no one, and yet the school removed it from the intersession course as well.

This time the book, “Water for Elephants,” was “offensive” because of sexual references, and we all know how offended high school boys get by sexual references. “This book is likely to be a rated-X book, and thus, is totally unsuitable for use by the school,” said the offended parent.

I read the excerpt provided by the Nashua Telegraph, and all I can say is that anyone who thinks this passage is X-rated doesn’t know much about porn. This passage isn’t pornographic. It wouldn’t even pass for erotica. If you want to complain about anything, complain about the quality of the writing. “I want her to melt into me, like butter on toast.” Like butter on toast? Really? That’s the best you can do?

Some might cry censorship, but that’s nonsense. Both books are available at the school library, easily purchased everywhere, and freely available on the Internet if you want to engage in some illegal file-sharing.

There are still questions, though. The biggest one being, why is a public school so easily manipulated by fundamentalist Christians trying to push their own agenda through the school? Separation of church and state, anyone?  This is New Hampshire, after all, not Texas. New Hampshire is supposed to be libertarian paradise. Whatever happened to “Live Free or Die”?

It seems they pulled the book from the curriculum because the teachers didn’t want to receive nasty comments from around the country like they did over “Nickel and Dimed.” According to the principal, “the majority were ‘not at the level of respect’ he would hoped [sic] for civil dialogue.” That’s understandable, but depressing.

It’s true that one can’t have a civil dialogue with the hostile and uneducated, but it’s sad that they can have so much power over a school and its school board. If their dialogue isn’t civil, they should be ignored in an educational setting. What will happen next? Someone will complain that the school teaches children about evolution, and science classes will be changed?

This wouldn’t have surprised me in Texas, where the state education board seems to have been taken over by fundamentalists, or Kentucky, where they have a Creation Museum showing humans walking alongside dinosaurs, but it does in New Hampshire. “Live Free or Die” is a great motto, but a hard one to live by.

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Comments

  1. Melanie says:

    My issue with “Water for Elephants” isn’t the romance between the male and female leads, but the grotesque depiction of our protagonist walking into his shared railway car and encountering his roommate, Kinko the midget clown, in the midst of masturbation. Something the kids may as well be ready for if they plan to attend college, but the words used to describe this (most likely unnecessary) scene paint such a vividly disgusting mental picture that I considered not finishing the book. I can definitely see where parents of high school students could take issue with this when there hasn’t been informed consent of some kind beforehand (as in a “the books in this course may contain adult themes best handled by mature readers” sort of disclosure). The Nashua Telegraph no doubt did their readers a favor with their text selection.

    Also noteworthy is that the article chose not to share with the reader the ages of the students involved in the intercession course. That can also make a difference.

  2. Kareem says:

    There will always be that “one person” who thinks that certain books should be banned. The parent that you speak of in the piece did the correct thing by pulling thier child out of the school to teach them at home…kudos to them. Maybe they should think about doing it for the other child and if they do not like the curriculum.

  3. Annoyed Librarian says:

    Melanie, I’m not defending the book, and just from the pages I read it seemed mediocre, but high school students aren’t little kids anymore. This just seems like a meddlesome parent who wants to find something to complain about. If it wasn’t this novel, it would be something else, something that probably didn’t have masturbating midget clowns.

  4. Melanie says:

    Haha very true. I see this as a fail in a number of ways, not the least of which is that the school clearly doesn’t have a policy which provides for a) justifying inclusion of curriculum materials and b) handling challenges. Although my sympathy certainly lies with the parents to some degree, I think the school also had a responsibility to inform that the book used in the course contained mature content. The parents who are complaining would have a more difficult time making their case if this voluntary course was up-front about the fact that the book used wouldn’t be suitable for all students.

  5. Mary Jane Garrett says:

    I wonder, where were the parents going to school at that age? In my high school classes over 30 years ago, a number of our readings had adult themes. If they bothered me, I could figure them out for myself from what I learned in my own religious tradition. I believe that even then most teens were aware that the everyday world/media did not mesh with what we were taught in Sunday school or whatever. Better to use the readings as discussion points about other views than to shield the kids so much that they aren’t able to make judgments on their own when they have to deal with the world.

  6. Andy says:

    Thanks for capturing what always turned me off about Ehrenreich… I always had a vague sense that the arguments she was making wasn’t especially logical, and you succinctly helped me realize why.

  7. Andy says:

    oops, *weren’t.

  8. teenlibrarian says:

    If they are in high school, it’s mostly likely they are already masturbating and/or know more about sex than adults. Lets give teens more credit here.

  9. librarian says:

    Sure, all poor people need to do is get a job.

    Huh, such an obvious solution to so many problems!

    Every day, in every way, I’m becoming more and more of a socialist.

  10. Dennis Taylor says:

    To the Miffed Librarian:

    Warning Graphic Sexual Details Follow:

    1. Three some graphic oral sex scene.
    2. Sex worker masturbating publically for prospective Johns.
    3. No guidance given students by school–likely given the response of most of the school board.

    These graphic details are not necssary. The author could have summarized these actions with one or two words. The Nashua Telegraph bravely chose to expose the least objectionable passage. If your kid can’t isn’t old enough to see the film of those pages, he isn’t old enough to read graphic, movie-like details of same.

    Dennis Taylor

  11. Dennis Taylor says:

    Please watch the BCTV televised show of the February 14th school board meeting to see if I was “civil” in my demand to be able to read the material on air that most of them thought was suitable to give to my fifteen year old. I had to fight for my right to read aloud their proposed pornography.

    Dennis Taylor

  12. Annoyed Librarian says:

    “Sure, all poor people need to do is get a job.”

    I list ten things, you isolate the 2nd and ignore the rest. Interesting.

  13. Randal Powell says:

    I think that we should just shut down the public schools. Wealthy people can send their kids to elite private schools as they always have, and everyone else can homeschool using libraries, Amazon, and the internet. Just look at KahnAcademy.org, how many public school teachers can do better than that? Truth is, public education was never intended to “educate” anyone – see John Taylor Gatto.

  14. librarian says:

    Dear AL,

    I agree with most of the points in your post, though I had issue with one. This is the full quote:

    “It sucks to be poor. So work hard in school, get a job, have a strong work ethic, get married, stay married, both of you work, don’t do drugs, don’t gamble, don’t spend more than you make, don’t have children while you’re a teenager or single parent, and guess what? Your chance of being poor is slim. Conservatism is about good sense and good values and personal responsibility.”

    This is the kind of conservative platitude we hear from Sarah Plain and Rush Limbaugh, a “commonsense” conservative viewpoint designed to get people who don’t know any better to vote against their own self interest. If this is your view, fine, but how is it relevant to the debate over a library yielding to pressure to remove “Nickel and Dimed” ? What does your opinion of the book and the large and complex social problems it addresses have to do with this argument?

    You often complain about the AlA taking political stands on non-library issues, yet here you are inserting a political debate into a library issue. And, you make this point on a blog sponsored by a leading industry publication.

    Since you have made this statement, appropriate to the argument or not, I feel it must be addressed.

    The thesis of Nickel and Dimed is that it is impossible for one to subsist in the US on a minimum wage salary. Companies do not pay minimum wage because some people make bad life choices. Bad life choices are a separate issue. Many difficult life situations are not the fault of the individual; illness and tragedy can destroy lives and land people in desperate situations without the help of alcohol, gambling, drugs and unwanted pregnancies.

    Even without misfortune, if our entire society adhered to your commonsense conservative vision, there would still be a need for low skilled jobs to be done. We can assume if every person were to avoid drugs, gambling, teen pregnancy etc., companies will then start paying a living wage for lower status work? Doubtful.

    The socialist platitude one must inevitably fling back at you, is, in America we’ve ceded too much power to private companies. Without government intervention and assistance, too many people are left out, too many lives are destroyed.

  15. gatoloco says:

    Let things run its course in NH before a final judgment. The state has changed quite a bit in the last 10-20 years but it’s still the Granite State, even without the Old Man of the Mountain. I would also say that careful planning is not enough for some to lift themselves out of poverty through librarianship. Many poor and middle class students simply do not have the funds to take very low paying, part time jobs after graduate school. Many good people who will never end up working in a library. Librarians are getting nickel and dimed these days, and many practitioners have outside funds supporting their library habit. I was born in Bedford-Stuyvesant with resources with many advantages (moving to NH for one), I can tell you this with confidence, those without resources in Bed-Sty have much higher hurdles to jump over on a daily basis just to survive, much less succeed.

  16. SK says:

    I’m not sure what kind of poverty the AL is familiar with, but it’s not the kind *I* know. If you don’t have the money to move, then you have to take the jobs that are available to you. Those jobs may not pay well, or may be unstable – a huge part of my town lives according to Halliburton’s hiring/firing cycles. Unexpected expenses – a broken car (because you couldn’t afford a good car), illness in you or a family member – mean that saving isn’t so much an option as ‘juggling bills to keep your family only a little bit into the red.’ And after working the two jobs you have to in order to keep your head above water, there just plain isn’t enough oomph in you to go to the library and study, or take classes even if you could afford to. In the words of David Pilgrim, “Some people are poor not because they are lazy but because they make poverty wages.” (Quote from here: http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/essays/poor/ )

  17. Techserving You says:

    This is somewhat similar to an incident in the high school I attended in another New England state. In a senior AP English class – a class open only to students who had been selected through an application process, and attended by only college-bound students, the teacher handed out some non-required reading. The reading was a (very good, I might add) unpublished short story the teacher had written himself. (Apparently the fact that the story was unpublished already made it suspect and probably creepy smut.) He did not require the students to read it, and most of the students in the class were already 18 and already accepted to good colleges. The story had some slight sexual themes, but nothing students wouldn’t encounter in college and had probably already encountered in other high school classes.

    One girl’s crazy activist mother did not express her concern to the teacher, but instead went straight to the local TV news, who put their “I-team Investigation” on the case. The teacher did not want to comment, so instead they showed his black and white (and kind of child-molester-esque, I must admit) yearbook photo. This guy’s name was dragged through the mud. As it happened, he was one of the very best and most highly-educated teachers at the school. But he was made out to seem like a creepy child-molester or something.

    In the case I have described, the mother was a woman who was always showing up at school board and town council meetings and complaining. She was known in the local community to be a trouble-maker. It kind of sounds like these parents in this situation are similar attention-seeking trouble makers.

  18. Couldn’t agree with you more. I reported briefly on this travesty over the weekend, but enjoyed your handling of it much better. I will never, EVER understand parents who try to govern not just what their own child reads (which is their prerogative) but to control what everyone else in their community reads too. It’s infuriating!

  19. Bedford Family says:

    Dennis, stop telling people to watch on bctv. Don’t you know the town thinks you really enjoyed reading that in public…a little too much? So, stop it.
    And, please, worry about your own children. Thank you.

  20. Dennis Taylor says:

    but they have another son that they dared expose to the atheistic socialism so rampant at BHS, apparently only so they could find something else to complain about.

    My first thought is to ask you if you are out of your mind in writing this nonsense. What makes you think we–or any other poor parent–have the time and money to homeschool our son or send him to a private school? Why should we lose the benefit of having a public school because we object to the pornography in the book Water for Elephants? Where, oh where is this imaginary world where parents can vote with their feet and pick the school that teaches their values? When is that voucher coming so that we are no longer trapped?

    Are your arguments for and about real people or imaginary ones? We are starting a fund at the SAU 25 for people like you to send us money so that we can put our son in a private school. No doubt, given your bizarre logic, we will be receiving a generous donation from you and your supporters.

    Dennis Taylor

    Dennis Taylor

  21. Dennis Taylor says:

    We are not seeking attention, but the media was interested in a school giving out books that directly bashed Jesus Christ. Read the book again and see Ehrenreich suggest that a church was named after the homosexual rape in the movie Deliverance–intentionally named so. It was not just one line, but, I suppose that calling Mohammed as child molester–if that was the only line–would pass your muster? Perhaps it would and you are entitled to your opinion. We have some suggestions that we hope to the present to the school board in order to bring more specificity to the permission slips and more parental involvement in the review process. We hope that there will be some reforms made in the process. Alternately, we may simply be in a community where that purchases soft porn for its students. We will fight that as we may, but we also understand that other parents have rights as well. I hope that they will speak for their positions. I will, for my part, comment only on their words, and not on their character or my perception of their parenting skills. I realize that I was harsh in my last post, but I am tired of people assuming that there is no dost to our family to homeschool another child with different needs from the first. You may take that as my apology and I hope to receive one from you for your unthinking remark.

    Dennis Taylor

    Dennis Taylor

  22. Dennis Taylor says:

    With regards to the permission slip, we would like to see truth in advertising. A book that contains public masturbation and graphic oral sex should have a label that tells just that. Otherwise, what is mature sexual content for one may mean something else to another. But, a graphic oral sex scene is a graphic oral sex scene, no sugar coating allowed.

  23. Randal Powell says:

    I mistyped the link above, it is:

    khanacademy.org

    About Salman Kahn, from the site:

    Sal is the Founder, Executive Director, and Faculty of the Khan Academy. He started the Khan Academy as a way to tutor his cousins remotely–while he was a hedge fund analyst in Boston, and they were students in New Orleans. He started posting videos on YouTube, and more and more people kept watching. It was clear there was a huge unmet need, so Sal left his hedge fund job and started Khan Academy with the mission of providing a free world-class education to anyone, anywhere.

    Sal holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was the president of his class. He also attended MIT, where he received 3 degrees: a Masters in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, a B.S. in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, and a B.S. in Mathematics.

  24. Dennis Taylor says:

    With regards to my advocacy of removing the book and the argument that I am thus deciding what other people’s kids read, I respond as follows:

    1. I do not want my tax dollars spent to provide soft porn as the first option of choice by the teacher.
    2. I felt that my child’s experience in that class would suffer from a reduced amount of teacher time and attention to an alternative text.
    3. At budget time and elsewheres, we always hear about how character in our kids matters and that the school is building kids for the future of America. Thus, even without a child in school, I am a stakeholder or stuckholder. I want the kids in Bedford to be kids as long as possible. Their childhood is precious and I see no need for the school to give them details about the depravity possible in adult life. I may be old fashioned in this, but there it is.
    4. Students may still read a copy from the library or buy one with their own money. Their parents are free to do this.
    5. Bedford already censors or controls (tries to control) such things as student dress and behavior. Why should my child follow the rules set by other parents? This is the same question asked about our attempt to remove the book. Yes, we are reducing the ability of the children to read this in school. But what about all of the other restrictions on children that the community believes are necessary for the good of all?
    6. We have a right to a book review process and we are persuing our rights. Would any of you deny us this right or seek to censor our complaint? This was the policy in place when I brought my family to Bedford. Would you change this protection for those with whom you disagree?
    In the name of the rights of the parent,would you eliminate our right to fight for what we believe is best for the school? We are reasonable people trying to find a solution in a very difficult environment. We hope that there may be found grounds for improving the situation in Bedford. Whether we can agree on some basics in the classroom or not remains to be seen. We will advocate our position and hope that the rest of you will do the same.

  25. Dennis Taylor says:

    I will add this finally. The annoyed librarian seems to feel free to disparage my parenting at will. I hope that he/she will stick to the known facts, debate them, and leave the guessing aside. My kids are not warped, not on drugs, not involved in pregnancy, and will likely grow up successfully. They will not have had to read about graphic oral sex before they are married. Have any of you ever considered the gift you could give your child and his/her spouse if you encourage them to remain pure? Of course, in this day and age, how many of us were virgins at marriage? Wouldn’t you like to go back and fix that for your current spouse? Maybe I am wrong, but I think that giving kids this book is just one more step down a road that will cheat them in the end.

  26. Robert Johnson says:

    Two suggestions for AL:
    Did you ever consider that there might be Christians who are offended by blasphemous remarks about Jesus and who are not fundamentalists? You’ve heard of conservative Catholics, I suppose? Or Greek Orthodox? I’m going to wager–from your talk about “religious fanatics”, etc.–that you are a slow learner when it comes to Christianity. Maybe you ought not to speak on the subject again until you read a book or two.

    Second, if parents would start teaching their kids morality the way they imagine their great-grandparents taught their grandparents, they would not regret it. And if this means taking the children out of the wasteland known as the public schools, then they’d probably be nicer and smarter children than the poor kids that remain.

    But hey, AL, you’ve got the Lit Witch (#18) on your side. She cannot fathom people being upset by what is being taught in their schools, for which they’re forced to pay ridiculous amounts of taxes. Maybe we shouldn’t get upset about how the federal government wastes money or perverts justice either?

    Note to AL and Lit Witch: If you pay taxes, you have a right to complain.

  27. Annoyed Librarian says:

    Dennis and Robert, did it ever occur to you that there might be Christians who don’t go around looking for reasons to be offended, and who couldn’t care less what Barbara Ehrenreich or anyone else thinks about Jesus or Christianity? There are people who just want something to be upset about, who go around looking for fights to pick. Who cares if you’re offended? I’m offended by prigs, but I don’t try to silence them.

    Public schools don’t exist to present religious orthodoxy, because they’re shared by the religious and non-religious alike. We live in a liberal democracy, not a theocracy. You can complain that schools aren’t teaching your religious views all you like, but that’s not much of an argument in a secular public school. Also, reading only books that you agree with completely isn’t education. It’s indoctrination. That’s appropriate for a church, maybe, but not a school. And people who try to force others to comply with their religious beliefs and silence views they disagree with are fanatics, whether they’re New Hampshire Christians or Afghani Muslims.

    As for the novel, I’m always a little suspicious of people who read a literary novel and just focus on the naughty bits. There’s a difference between literature and pornography, and most grown people have figured that out.

  28. Robert Johnson says:

    AL calls it fanaticism when people just want the schools not to encourage depravity. Apparently holding the schools to simple human decency is too much for AL. Folks, AL might as well be one of the new librarians, with orange hair, a safety pin in her nostril, and a copy of Girl Meets Girl splayed open on her desk.

  29. Annoyed Librarian says:

    I’m pretty sure I called trying to force your religious views on other people and silencing those you disagree with fanaticism, but keep deliberately misunderstanding all you like. It doesn’t fool anyone. It’s always fascinating watching a fanatic trying to justify his fanaticism. Your irrelevant ad hominem attack is interesting as well. I’m not sure what Girl Meets Girl is, but it sounds just like the sort of thing you’d want to forbid people to read, even though you seem familiar with it yourself.

    Another sign of fanaticism, by the way, is pushing the same dead argument in blog comments, thinking if you just repeat yourself long enough everyone will start chanting along with you.

  30. Dennis Taylor says:

    I have not tried to force my religious views. I am seeking a much lower standard than what the Bible suggests. The Bible speaks of the concept of adultery, the mental and physical lust persons who are not married to each other. Please check your facts before making your wild statements. Also, the United States is a republic, not a democracy. Do you ever read the books in the library in which you claim to work? Most fifth graders know this fact.

  31. Dennis Taylor says:

    I have one more question. Given the tone of your piece–uncivil–do you consider yourself to be hostile and uneducated? You have provided us all evidence of your hostility to me as a person, and a bit of evidence as to your lack of education. I would say that I throughly agree with your argument about civil discourse with those who are hostile and uneducated. Though I have been courteous to you, we cannot have a civil discourse for the reasons you stated. You, Annoyed Librarian, are the problem.

  32. Morse says:

    Wow, getting attacked by both liberals and conservatives for the same post is quite a feat. I suspect the “Girl Meets Girl” reference was meant as a disparaging homophobic remark, but who knows. Robert and Dennis seem pretty good at name-calling and throwing out red herrings (“Girl Meets Girl”; democracy v. republic, good grief) but not much else. When the name-calling and red herrings come out, the debate is dead.

  33. Dennis Taylor says:

    With regards to your idea that I am trying to silence ideas about which I do not agree, let’s adjust Water for Elephants just a tad. Let’s make Barbara, the circus sex worker, into a little girl of age nine. This girl then does all of the things in the book. This revised version is then given to fifteen year olds at public expense and for an alleged public purpose. Do you do anything besides–I am complementing you here–not signing the permission slip? Would you complain about the book so the book would not be used in school?

    If you think this question is unfair, please tell us why. Is there anything in any book in any situation about which you, AL, would ever complain to the school?
    What you would do at home is not the question here.

  34. Dennis Taylor says:

    I pointed out that issue because it is a common misconception in our country. AL uses good vocabulary and claims to work with books. I was merely pointing out her lack of education in an important and basic area of citizenship. However, if you would like me to consider her as educated, for the purpose of this debate, I am willing to do so. Let the red herrings–and, I hope, personal attacks–cease!!

  35. Dennis Taylor says:

    Let’s discuss the changes I made in Water for Elephants. If most of you would complain about that, we are on the same page–but perhaps with a different place to draw the line. We are both willing to censor something for the good of the students and community. So, AL and others, what would you do about the revised Water?

  36. Dennis Taylor says:

    No red herring here, Morse. I think I have made a valid point. What say you?

  37. Dennis Taylor says:

    Here’s another related question. What if I made the existing book, with adults performing the graphic sexual acts, into a children’s book. I would keep the story, show the tents and elephants. I would also show, in my new book, the graphic detail of the oral sex scene. I would use age appropriate words, but I would not change the ideas in the book. I would not seek to add a word to the scene, but would quote the book above a vivid cartoon of a prosititute performing oral sex. In other words, I would try to be fair to the story line and to accurately provide a picture and quote for the sex scenes.

    Now, would any of you object to my reading and showing these pictures in the sixth grade class? No? How about to the first graders? Where would any of you draw the line? If there is no line, we need to get this material to these kiddies ASAP, so that they can also enjoy the rich pageantry of circus life.

  38. Dennis Taylor says:

    I hope that AL will adress both of these scenarios in seperate entries so that we can all see how she handles these questions. There will be no need to attack me in those entries. There will be no need to try to marginalize my position by lumping me with the fanatics.

    Please just stick to the proposed changes.

  39. Dennis Taylor says:

    Watch the school board meeting on February 14th. I read aloud, after a good deal of fighting, one of the scenes to which I object. I hope that all of you will visit the BCTV website to watch the meeing. I spoke during public comments time and was not on the agenda. See for yourselves what is in the book. There is an online petition going on at change.org. I have repeatedly asked the sponsor to put all of the objectionable scenes online in the opening letter so that the potential signors would be better informed. Apparently, those who claim to be against censorship like to censor when it suits them.

  40. Dennis Taylor says:

    I hope that Port Fords–a screen name used to hide the sponsor from any public consequences–will shed some sunlight on the scenes in the book. I am willing to speak up publically for what I believe. Why are so few of you out there willing to put your personal lives on the line for your public positions? BCTV folks. Whether you think I am right or wrong, don’t you owe it to yourself to view the meeting?

  41. Ben says:

    AL, you have a strong anti-Christian attitude. I will pray for you.

  42. SK says:

    Dennis Taylor – I can’t find your petition on change.org: I ran a search for “water for elephants,” and then another for “elephants” in the education section – it didn’t show either time. Could you link it, please?

  43. Barbara's Book Nook says:

    Well well, Mr. Dennis Taylor, we certainly like the sound of our own voice, don’t we? Or should I dare say the look of our typing in this case…
    Why not address the issue once, in a well thought out post, than monopolize this Blog with your way too numerous invalid points and thoughts.
    It seems you are trying to take over the Annoyed Librarians post here, and that, my dear, cannot be done, for she is the queen.
    So, I ask on behalf of my library and my soul, to stop with these rants and raves that you continue to have, and maybe seek the advice of a professional…it will be money well spent, and do your aching heart and soul some good, sweetheart.

  44. Morse says:

    Dennis, skipping past your deluge of comments, I’ll just say that you’re trying to persuade a group of librarians that a book should be removed from a high school reading list because some sex scenes in it offend you. Just give it up, because it won’t happen. You might win the battles in New Hampshire by sheer numbers or political will or right-wing media storms that spawn nasty emails to school officials, but you’ll never persuade librarians or most people interested in the freedom to read that a high school student shouldn’t be assigned a work of contemporary fiction because one parent is offended by the fact that it has some sex in it. Even librarians like the AL who argue vigorously against pornography in libraries don’t seem to agree with you, because this book isn’t pornography and high school students aren’t little children.

    I hesitated to even post this, since I assume you’ll follow it with another dozen or so comments that I also won’t be reading. I assure you I will not be returning to the comments on this post, so I leave the echo chamber in your capable hands.

  45. Annoyed Librarian says:

    Dennis, honey, you do go on! As for me calling you “hostile and uneducated,” you should reread the post. Unless you were the person sending uncivil comments to the school, you weren’t the one being called hostile and uneducated. There, now I hope you feel better.

  46. Techserving You says:

    Dennis Taylor… what do you do… google yourself all day so that you see everything that is written about you? Or do you have a Google Alert set up? Why are you on the “Annoyed Librarian” blog, anyway?

  47. Techserving You says:

    MIT does not confer a B.S. degree. It is a S.B..

  48. Randal Powell says:

    Techserving You,

    Sal’s bio is pulled directly from the site,
    http://www.khanacademy.org/about#GEL

    B.S. and S.B. are the same, he probably just used B.S. so as not to confuse people.

  49. Lyle Blake Smythers says:

    Randal has a point. My undergrad degree is an A.B. in English from the College of William and Mary, but I tell people it is a B.A. because otherwise they don’t know what I’m talking about and think it’s something arcane or made-up.

    Lyle Blake Smythers

  50. Spekkio says:

    Just real quick…I’m with librarian and SK.

    “It sucks to be poor. So work hard in school, get a job, have a strong work ethic, get married, stay married, both of you work, don’t do drugs, don’t gamble, don’t spend more than you make, don’t have children while you’re a teenager or single parent, and guess what? Your chance of being poor is slim.”

    In case you hadn’t noticed, the American Dream™ is dead. D-E-A-D. You can do EVERYTHING right and still wind up drowning in debt with little or no hope for the future. If you don’t believe me, check out all the blogs about the “law school scam.” We now have tons of people – smart, highly educated – who thought that their hard work and sacrifice would pay off. Not only did it not pay off – many folks are worse off than they were before.

    I understand the importance of personal responsibility, but I don’t think you can – or should – discount the importance of external factors and systemic problems. (Oh…and I think the American Dream™ was dead even before the “Great Recession,” by the way.)

  51. bibliophile says:

    Robert Johnson: I consider the Bible to be filled with literary depravity. Give me a public school any day!

  52. Barbara's Book Nook says:

    The Bible is a fairy tale, sweeties…And, belongs in “Fiction”.

    Can I get an Amen???

  53. Techserving You says:

    I also have an A.B. and say that I have an A.B. because it’s not a B.A..

    My sister went to MIT for undergrad so I know of what I speak about MIT. I am aware that S.B. is a bachelor of science but it is not conferred as a B.S.. Thus, I am suspicious.

  54. Techserving You says:

    Spekkio – that law school example is a BAD one. First of all, no matter what you plan to study (law, librarianship) you have the responsibility to research the job market and your prospects of securing gainful employment within a reasonable time after graduation. If you don’t, you can’t really complain about being taken in by the “scam.” I’m not talking about reading information the ALA or the library schools (or ABA or law schools) put out, I’m talking about actually looking at job listings and talking to people in the field.

    But, law is not librarianship. There are actually articles about it (and not just about “hip” stereotype- busting tattooed lawyers) in mainstream publications. People know what the legal job market is like. What they think – and trust me, I KNOW, having done a year in law school in a former life – is that THEY will be the one to get the job. Everyone else will struggle, but they will rise above the rest. Yeah, yeah, the job market’s bad, but they’ll do well. Check out the Princeton Review’s law school discussion boards sometime.

    There ARE fields in which there are very good job prospects. People could do their research and do a little more work and move into those fields. Law school and library school do have one thing in common. Neither of them have any prerequisite courses. You can major in absolutely anything… you don’t have to major in history or government to go to law school. Yes, most law schools are more difficult to get into than library school, and even those that are initially easy to get into weed out the truly incompetent (and if they make it through, the bar exam will weed them out.) But, library school and law school are both programs to which people can apply when they’re not sure what else to do. The LSAT may be “harder” than the GRE, but it requires no specialized knowledge. Other fields, even “vocational” fields like nursing, require courses like two semesters of Anatomy & Physiology, and Microbio for admission to entry-level masters programs. But these courses are “hard” and most people don’t want to take them.

  55. Banning Breeds Ignorance says:

    While the language you use in your argument my be strong, nay inflammatory, AL you make a very valid important point. I don’t think the Dennis Taylor’s of the world should be influencing what my kids reads in school. If you object to something being in a classroom, fine, ask for an alternative. Did you do that? DT seems more ready to grab a soap box than he is in negotiating what is best for HIS kid. Do my a favor, Dennis, let me worry about what is right for MY kid. If a teacher or curriculum chooses a book you disagree with, and let me tell you discussions at the lunch room tables are far more graphic than what you read in W.F.E., discuss it with the teacher. I feel like you like to hear yourself talk and frankly, proselytize. I wish BHS would stand up for their students rather than roll over for the fanatics of the world.

  56. Disgusted Librarian says:

    I believe that the only reason the book, “Water for Elephants,” has a masturbation scene within it is to disguise the ultimately mediocre quality of the book. What better way to defend poor writing than to include an unnecessary and offensive scene, so that any criticism of the work can be responded to by saying the reader is stupid, can’t handle the reality of today’s world, is a religious fanatic, etc., etc., etc. It’s a trick that untalented artists and the critics and dealers who invent and promote them have been using for years. The truly filthy thing about the above discussion is the anger directed toward an obviously caring and concerned parent. A child has been driven from the public school system. For what? A book of questionable quality, at best. Was it so necessary for this book to be on the school’s reading list? Are there no better books? Of all the books in the world, is this the best the school could come up with? Maybe with fewer books like this in the schools, the “discussions at the lunch room tables” might improve.

  57. Parent and Librarian says:

    I’m with you, Disgusted Librarian. I think AL is missing the point on this one. Who does have the right to influence what students are reading in class (on the taxpayers’ dime), if not the parents? I honestly question the particular teacher who thought this book was worth ANY instructional time. American students do so poorly when compared globally, and this tendency toward wasting time on crap is part of the reason why.
    Maybe the parents should frame this as an academic excellence issue, and then people can stop the ad hominem attacks, and consider the underlying issues.

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