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Book Complaints in Florida

Library Link of the Day is getting a little obsessed over the new book challenging law in Florida, having linked to it this week and three months ago.

Has anything changed? The difference seem to be that the random yahoos have emerged from the woodwork to challenge some books in schools, and what it shows is how confused they all are.

For example, some yahoos in Florida “say global warming and evolution are a hoax and should not be taught in textbooks unopposed.”

No problem. Along with evolution, schools could also teach Hindu cosmology, and then the teachers could ask the students to examine the evidence for each and see which makes more sense. That’s the sort of thing that would make conservative parents happy with the schools.

That the two theories aren’t talking about the same thing doesn’t really matter, because the main point is discussing how evidence works.

The actual challenge was even funnier. A random, and probably conspiracy minded, yahoo “challenged the teaching of evolution, arguing that life was created and perhaps planted by space aliens.”

How can you argue with that one? It all goes back to the evidence.

But there’s more! “Others say their local school’s textbooks shortchange Islam’s role in the world, while their opponents argue it’s the danger posed by Muslim terrorists that’s underexposed.”

Those people who think not enough attention is paid to “Islam’s role in the world” are complaining about a “middle school ancient history textbook” that mentions “Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism.”

Some complain that I dismiss random yahoos as random yahoos, and sometimes ignorant rubes, but it’s hard not to when people complain about this without knowing that Islam came long after what every history class and teacher in the U.S. considers ancient history.

Even Christianity is a late bloomer compared to the other three, and by the estimates even of believers Muhammad died some 600 years after Jesus, and by then we’re in the period generally called the Middle Ages, when Islamic civilization not only took off but made Christian Europe look like a bunch of, well, ignorant rubes.

My favorite random yahoo of the group complains that “schools are using pornographic materials and textbooks that ‘totally distort our founding values and principles. They are teaching our kids socialism versus free markets. They are teaching our kids that the government is our nanny, the government is supposed to protect them.’”

It’s hard to continue after the word “pornographic,” because there is no way Florida schools are teaching pornographic books. There’s no point even in responding to someone who can’t tell any difference between pornography and literature.

The complaint about “socialism versus free markets” is almost certainly just as deluded. The complainer probably hates “socialism,” whatever he thinks that means. That would be great for him if he weren’t complaining about teaching socialism in one of the biggest socialist institutions outside of the military: the public schools.

Complaining that your children are being taught socialism while sending your children to schools that exist only because they suck socialist tax dollars away from the hard working citizens marketing freely is rank hypocrisy.

And if you don’t even have children in the schools, which the complainers in Florida no longer have to have, then you’re still complaining about the wrong thing.

If you really hate socialism, complain that public schools exist at all, not about what they teach. You can join the large choir of such complainers and preach to them. And if you don’t hate public schools, you don’t hate socialism. You’re just confused.

And government is our nanny? Again, Yahoo, public schools! Rugged individualists don’t send their children to the socialist public schools to be nannied. They put them out on the streets to learn about life the hard way, or maybe send them to private schools or, if they’re really terrified of modern life, homeschool them.

And the idea that government is supposed to protect people? That’s just crazy, if you’re an anarchist. If you’re not an anarchist, and you believe that the government should defend life or property or contracts, and you then complain that people are teaching kids the government to protect them, then I’m not sure what to call you. Ignorant rube, maybe?

But that person is probably an anarchist. There must be hundreds of them around the country.

There are probably librarians who get alarmed by this sort of thing. They’ll call it “censorship,” because a loose relationship with the English language is beneficial to their cause.

However, there’s a key point that makes all these challenges just as meaningless as they were before: the law establishes that people complain, a mediator listens, and then the “mediator advises the local school board, whose decision is final.”

The proponents of the law probably think of it as a way to protect the kiddies from socialism, pornography, and science, but it’s really just a way to add to the government bureaucracy and put another layer of government between teachers and parents.

Schools have to post lists of books being taught. That takes time, time for which they’re being paid. The mediators have to come from somewhere. Maybe they’re paid as well.

If they are, they’re paid for nothing, because they have no authority. However, they can waste their and the complainers’ time sorting things out until the school board becomes involved and decides what it was going to decide anyway.

That’s what these anti-government and anti-school conservatives don’t get. The government never gives up control and it never shrinks. It shifts and grows and morphs so that you might think it does, but it doesn’t.

There’s a really good reason for that which this article helps demonstrate: a large diverse country, and a diverse state like Florida, has many competing voices complaining about something, and they usually drown each other out and let the rest of us who aren’t random yahoos or meddlesome busybodies get on with the business of living.


Please note that new comments for all posts on this blog have been closed.


  1. “…if they’re really terrified of modern life, homeschool them.” That’s not why most homeschoolers choose this option. Many, many of us have children with special needs that are being ignored and harmed by public schools. My child with dyslexia? The teachers said, “Just try harder.” What?! That’s not how that works. The schools offer no services to dyslexics. So, I turned to homeschooling and my public library. Let’s not even start on services to children on the spectrum or dyscalculia. I’d rather make the needed sacrifices to ensure my children receive an education so they can take on modern life.

  2. Harukogirl says:

    Very true. My mom had learning difficulties, and was pretty much forced to teach herself to read in high school be her teachers had ignored her for years. So when she was told I was dyslexic and possibly add (I’m not, I don’t think – just very active and I learn better when in motion), she made the decision to homeschool me, for which I am profoundly grateful. She pushed me but taught me it was ok to go at my own pace. She insisted I work hard and try, but never made me feel stupid if I was behind. I read at a 1st grade level in 3rd grade, and tested beyond freshmen in college level at 5th grade. And now I’m a librarian, and I meet so many parents who are freaked out because Jonny is in 5th grade but only tests at a 4.9 level!
    Yup, I got lucky.

  3. Old Fat Man says:

    I was going to apologize up front, but instead I’m just going to self-identify as an a-hole. I quote:

    “’…if they’re really terrified of modern life, homeschool them.’ That’s not why most homeschoolers choose this option. Many, many of us have children with special needs that are being ignored and harmed by public schools.”

    I have a really serious peeve about empirical claims that have not been researched. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2003, the number one reason homeschooling parents gave for homeschooling their children was “Concern about environment of other schools,” including concerns about “safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure,” in other words, modern life.

    Yes, many parents are better able to deal with the special educational needs of their children through homeschooling, but again, according to the survey, they made up only a large minority of homeschoolers.

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