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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

On the Permission to Read.

My youngest son came home the other day and said he needed me to write a note giving him permission to read the Hobbit.
I was taken aback, as I don't remember ever—ever!---needing permission from anyone to read any book I wanted.
His teacher told me the next day that it is due to certain parents who object to things like Harry Potter,etc. ---due to their fear of witchcraft.
….as if reading a book about a boy-wizard will undo the religious indoctrination that their particular children undoubtedly receive.
I suppose that books about Climate Change...or Dinosaurs...would also potentially find themselves on the list of books requiring Permission—wouldn't want to place Creationism, let alone Exxon's version of Science, on shaky ground.
In the last ten years or so, the education policy of the State of Texas has taken a turn towards the dangerously ignorant...sanitizing the curriculum of anything disturbing or less than “We're Awesome!!”...replacing Jefferson with McCarthy...and Biology with Myth...Our History(Warts and all) with a Rah-Rah Jingoism better suited for tin pot autocracies and the truly backwards.
There is an opportunity, for next year, to counter this slide into idiocy:The American Library Association puts on a full court press at the end of September with Banned Books Week(link below).

A cursory look at the ALA's material on Banned Books...including the History of such perversity(Inquisition, Savonarola, the Nazi's, Fahrenheit 451) instructive.
That a vocal minority of Holier-Than-Thou shouters, with overlarge toes, can effectively dictate what is available freely in the Public School's Library is frightening in this light:
So much for the Enlightenment concept of Free Inquiry, and Kant's rallying cry of Sapere Aude!(“Let us dare to Know!”).
A Free Country would find this kow-towing to the minority of the backwards anathema.
Perhaps having a policy of “Opt Out”, rather than “Opt In” would be an acceptable first step...
I understand that the current climate of fear and hatred is hard to counter, and that those who are driving this climate are very vocal and quick to shout at anyone who resists their hegemony, but I firmly believe that it is our duty as educators to challenge such myopic anti-intellectualism....such simplistic, sound-bite demagoguery.
We should endeavor to light fires in these kids' Minds, in order to create curious and thoughtful adults, rather than homogenous and well behaved drones who persist in their parents' Flat Eartherism.
The last time I was in the Elementary/Jr High Library, I noticed a sort of shrine, with a book by Sarah Palin in the center.
I wonder if permission is required for that book to be read....

Principiis Obsta; Caveat Ruinam.

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