Friday, January 29, 2010

A Parent Strikes Again

Today's post follows in the steps of yesterday's post in which we discovered how one parent (one who is likely a moron and who also likely just enjoys stirring things up) can cause the entire system to grind to a halt. We discovered how if just ONE person is "offended" by something or thinks that there is something wrong with something that the way that the complainer and the complainee think is the best way to handle it is to completely overreact and remove the "offending" item from the access of everyone, even those who are not offended. That's what we discovered. And it was through that discovery that we learned that there are just some pain in the ass people out there who want to up-end the system under the guise of "being offended". Today is another one of those stories. Please don't let that keep you from reading. It's just as idiotic as yesterday's, I promise.

Our post today takes us to Culpeper County Public Schools in (surprise) Culpeper, Virginia. It's there that we learn via the Star Exponent that the Anne Frank diary entitled "The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition"...will no longer be assigned to CCPS students". That is according to a one Jim Allen who is the school system's director of instruction. Great. So we're banning The Diary of Anne Frank now? Why is this? Oh, right. Because of the vagina passage. Wait. The what now?

I had the same reaction. What vagina passage? See, apparently there are two versions of The Diary of Anne Frank. There's the version where she's hiding out in an attic with her family for almost two years (you know, trying to avoid being taken to a concentration camp by the Nazis and all) and then there's the version where she's hiding out in an attic with her family for almost two years, trying to avoid the same fate as described above. The thing is that in the second version, there are apparently some "...sexually suggestive references". Uh-huh. The girl was 13, right? And there were only SOME sexually suggestive references? OK. And that's a problem?

It shouldn't be. It shouldn't be a problem. But guess what? It was a problem. For A parent. That's right. For ONE parent it was a problem. The problem was what was touted in several news stories that I read about this as "the vagina passage". Now, these publications don't have a problem printing the phrase "vagina passage" no matter how ridiculous it sounds. But do you think that any of them could actually print what the "vagina passage" was? No. Apparently not. Thank goodness for some thing called The Raw Story (which dubs their publication as "an alternative news nexus") that actually saw fit to include what was so freaking offensive to A parent. (It's a good thing that they found it via Valerie Strauss at The Answer Sheet otherwise we might never have known.

Ahem! The offending "vagina passage": "There are little folds of skin all over the place, you can hardly find it. The little hole underneath is so terribly small that I simply can't imagine how a man can get in there, let alone how a whole baby can get out!" That's it?

Wait a minute. That's it? That is "the vagina passage"? What is wrong with that, exactly? That seems like a perfectly reasonable for a thirteen year old to think and to write. I totally remember wondering how that whole birth thing was possible (as it is akin to shoving a pot roast through one's nostril). There's nary a hint of anything fictitious in that statement. It's just as she describes. I have no qualms with it.

But here's the thing: Let's say I was a moron and I did have a qualm with it. We could even say that I had qualms. Why is it that I can't just ask if my kid can read the less "seedy" version? Why is it that I have to go in there and say that I don't want this book taught at all to any of the children? By the way, I'm using the term "children" extremely loosely here as we are talking about eighth graders in this situation. Yes! Eighth graders! Some moron has a problem out there with their eighth grader reading a passage which very vaguely and extremely tamely describes a vagina and the functions that one may or may not believe that it has the capacity to perform!

What is it about our society that if one person complains, everyone has to be affected? I don't get that. But that's what happened. According to the article linked above in the Star Exponent "Citing a parent’s concern over the sexual nature of the vagina passage in the definitive edition, Allen said school officials immediately chose to pull this version and use an alternative copy." Please note the usage of the term "A parent". I'm not kidding, nor exaggerating, when I say that it was because of ONE complaint. ONE.

The article continues with the aforementioned Mr. Allen stating, “What we have asked is that this particular edition will not be taught...I’m happy when parents get involved with these things because it lets me know that they are really looking and have their kids’ best interest (in mind). And that’s where good parenting and good teaching comes in." Hey, I'm happy when parents get involved as well. I'm not happy when parents interfere with the rest of the learning potential of the rest of the class. But I agree that when parents are looking into what their kids are doing, the (assumedly) have their kid's best interest in mind. But I'm going to have to disagree that this sort of a reaction could be defined as "good parenting" OR "good teaching" because I don't think that it's either one.

I'm curious as to what the response of this particular school would have been if there hadn't been another alternative to this book that was essentially the same book (only with less referencing of said vaginas and all). Would they have just banned the book altogether? That seems rash. After all, this is a book about a thirteen year old girl who ultimately dies at the hands of the Nazis in a concentration camp. It's not like it's light reading material at all. If anything, I'd like to thing that the "vagina passage" kind of lightened things up a little bit. But I'm apparently the only one who would like to think anything like that of the sort. Morons.

This has got to stop. We cannot keep altering the course of the masses because one individual complains. This is not setting a good precedence AT ALL. Man, I wish I had a kid in public school so that I could just try being a pain in the ass and see what I could get away with. Maybe then I'd start to understand the thinking patterns of these school administrators that simply cave with every "offended" parent that presents an issue before them. Because as it stands now, I don't understand a thing about it other than it's completely moronic and is going to doom us eventually. And probably sooner rather than later.

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