You Can’t Read That!

You Can’t Read That! is a periodic post featuring banned book reviews and news roundups.

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YCRT! Arizona News:

More on Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal, an elected official who is one of the key figures behind the infamous Tucson school book bannings of 2012 (a ban that is still in effect, by the way). Turns out that from election day in 2010 right up until about three weeks ago, Huppenthal had been trolling the comment sections of online political and education forums, posting under false names, acting as a sockpuppet in support of his own policies, and hating on Mexican-Americans. Caught red-handed, he tearfully apologized but refused to resign. As I write, he is still in office.

Typical of Huppenthal’s pseudonymous comments (in addition to “Falcon9,” he also hid behind the name “Thucydides”) is this one:

However, we are now going to see the dark side of controlling immigration — fewer jobs for caucasions. In an improving economy, free flowing immigration creates more jobs for caucasions, not fewer. Economic growth is one part productivity growth and 2 parts population growth. Caucasians aren’t reproducing themselves, so all population growth has to be immigration.

We are condemning ourselves to a second rate future if we don’t reestablish the melting pot with a strong flow of immigrants engaging in economic activity, not crime.

We all need to stomp out balkanization. No spanish radio stations, no spanish billboards, no spanish tv stations, no spanish newspapers. This is America, speak English….

I don’t mind them selling Mexican food as long as the menus are mostly in English.

And, I’m not being humorous or racist. A lot is at stake here.

It’s hard to understate the damage officially-sanctioned bigotry like this is doing to public education in Arizona.

YCRT! National News:

Kansas City officials, after a busybody neighbor’s complaint, shut down a nine-year-old boy’s sidewalk lending library. You’ll be happy to know that after national ridicule, the city backed down and Spencer’s Little Free Library is back in operation.

Daunting path to publication: a new history of Ulysses and censorship.

Adolescent humor deemed inappropriate for adolescents; high school production of Spamalot cancelled.

A librarian’s story of being “steamrollered” into removing a children’s book from the shelves. Appropriately enough, Flat Stanley makes an appearance!

Judy Blume on why parents shouldn’t worry so much about what their children are reading.

YCRT! Mini-Rant:

Public school districts typically have policies and procedures for responding to parental book challenges. Increasingly, though, nervous superintendents and principals are yanking books from school libraries and reading lists after just a single parent objects, negating established review procedures and robbing students and other parents of any choice. Two such stories have recently come to my attention:

  • Pasco (Florida) school drops The Fault in Our Stars author’s book after parent’s email
  • Cape Henlopen (Delaware) school board pulls The Miseducation of Cameron Post from the Blue Hen reading list after a single parental complaint

In neither case did school officials bother to read the challenged book, far less follow school district policy for reviewing books parents complain about. This aligns with almost all the other cases of school-level book banning I’ve reported on in recent columns. Parents, as the author of this editorial points out, have the right to object to books their children are assigned to read. Public school officials, on the other hand, do not have the right to arbitrarily ban books or impose one parent’s reading choices on the students of all the other parents. There are procedures for reviewing challenged books, and school boards should follow them. Central to those procedures is actually reading the book parents want banned.

© 2014, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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