Parents Sabotage Children’s Education via Censorship
At Salem High School, a book has once again been challenged by parents. This time it’s Graham Swift’s 1983 novel Waterland. Although a public review was held on Wednesday for both sides to argue whether the book is valuable and educational art or worthless, sex-glorifying trash (sex being a filthy, filthy enterprise and all), the outcome of said review will not be made public until February 13th. Meanwhile, the lesson plan of AP English teachers and the education of Salem High students has been irrevocably altered, as the novel remains pulled from classrooms while the school district makes its decision. Teacher Brian Read says it is too late to resume the lessons associated with the reading of the novel.
Matt and Barb Dame, who previously challenged Toni Morrison’s Beloved, argued that Swift’s novel basically amounted to pornography. Mr. Dame summarized two pages of sexually explicit material, and then read aloud from an issue of Playboy. Since both publications described similar sexual acts, Mr. Dame wondered why Playboy was not considered appropriate for classroom use, citing the magazines interviews with influential figures such as Jimmy Carter and Walter Cronkite as potentially educational. Finally, the two parents protested the fact that the placement of adhesive stickers over sexually explicit material had not been repeated for the 2011-2012 school year.
The Dames also alleged that the books had not been properly vetted, a charge that Read and fellow teacher Gretchen Miller deny, saying the novel was reviewed by the English department before being implemented into the curriculum. In his defense of the book, Read argued that Waterland emphasizes the importance of historical events through the lens of a storyteller.
Parents and former students alike rallied at the review in support of the book, with more than half of the audience in attendance wearing shirts identifying them as “Supporters of Academic Integrity”, with a quote from Swift’s novel on the back:
Children, be curious. Nothing is worse than when curiosity stops. Nothing is more repressive than the repression of curiosity.
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