Monday, June 27, 2005

Parents Gone Wild--and the kids pay for it

Laurie Taylor took it upon herself to excorcise the Fayetteville School District of books that might lead to fornication or bad thoughts. After what she termed a personal "audit," she filed 70 complaints against books like Rainbow Boys and Doing It. Oh yeah, and Forever, because puritanical witch-hunts aren't complete without the traditional attack on Judy Blume.

Usually censorship nuts go for well known books that have a lot written about them and are easy to attack without having to read them. To my mind a truly dangerous breed of book burner has emerged, one with a singly minded obsession with parental control. By making "naughty" books unavailable in school libaries, kids would no longer have access to books without parental assistance, either in taking them to the public library, or buying the books.

What is particularly problematic about this book restriction is that while Taylor believes that these books promote sexual promiscuity, they in fact are cautionary tales which may help curious students understand the risks of sexual associations, and give them better a undestanding of their feelings. If there was ever a book to warn girls away from flinging themselves at adolescent boys, "Doing It," would be a good choice.

Taylor seems to have been bolstered in her efforts by a timid school board who decided to move three books she had complained about earlier in the year to a parent shelf, where students wouldn't be able to get at them. I think she really wanted them publicly shredded, but that placing them in a restricted area was an "acceptable compromise."


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