links for 2010-01-27

Continue Readinglinks for 2010-01-27

Indiana teacher suspended for giving students a book

Showing up on CNN yesterday, this Indiana story:

Perry Township teacher Connie Heermann a 27 year teaching veteran, was suspended from her job at Perry Meridian High School for a year and a half without pay, for giving her high school English class the book Freedom Writer’s Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them.

Apparently, the book was objectionable to the Perry Township school board because it contains swear words.

Yes, swear words. Oh, my stars and garters. Heavens to Murgatroid.

In addition to said swear words, it also contains inspirational stories of how inner city kids from very poor circumstances were inspired by their teacher’s introducing them to first-person journals from Anne Frank and others to write journals of the poverty and suffering around them, achieve in school, and go on to college. A very worthy book, it seems to me.

I guess not to the Perry Township school board.

Heermann attempted to get permission to teach the book as a textbook in her class, and the school board dithered at length on whether or not to allow it, because it contained the aforementioned swear words. While she waited on an answer, she sent home permission slips to the students parents, and 149 of 150 parents approved the book. So she passed it out in class, and stuff hit the fan.

The Perry Township School Board has taken refuge in the idea that they suspended her for “her disregard for policy and procedures and not working within the confines of the system she’s agreed to work in and support” claiming that they’re not “banning a book” but disciplining a teacher for not following the rules.

I am not fooled. This is a book banning.

It’s a bit of a mystery to me why this showed up on CNN just now, when the school board vote to suspend Connie Heermann occurred in March, but I’m glad it did, since I missed the story the first time around.

I’d also like you to take note that I used absolutely no swear words in writing this post, owing mostly to the fact that the CNN reporter said “blank” as he read the offending passages aloud, and the only word I could figure out was mother-fucker. Oops. Damn.

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Indiana Student Paper Censors Gay Tolerance

(via Advance Indiana) from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

Woodlan editorial on gays ignites firestorm
Principal demands prior review, warns teacher
By Kelly Soderlund
The Journal Gazette
A student editorial in the Woodlan Junior-Senior High School newspaper calling for more tolerance for gays and lesbians sparked the principal to seek approval of each edition before it goes to print and issue a written warning against the journalism teacher.
About 10 students attended the East Allen County Schools board meeting Tuesday night to ask members whether the issue could be put on the next meeting’s agenda. Superintendent Kay Novotny denied their request and suggested they meet with Assistant Superintendent Andy Melin instead.
Sophomore Megan Chase wrote an opinion piece – her first for the newspaper – that appeared in the Jan. 19 issue of the Woodlan Tomahawk that questioned people who believe it’s wrong to be gay or lesbian. Chase said she wrote the piece after a friend disclosed to her he was gay.
“I can only imagine how hard it would be to come out as homosexual in today’s society,” Chase wrote. “I think it is so wrong to look down on those people, or to make fun of them, just because they have a different sexuality than you. There is nothing wrong with them or their brain; they’re just different than you.”
Principal Edwin Yoder wrote a letter to the newspaper staff and journalism teacher Amy Sorrell insisting he sign off on every issue. Sorrell and the students contacted the Student Press Law Center, an advocacy group for student newspapers, which advised them to appeal the decision.
Last week, Yoder issued Sorrell a written warning for insubordination and not carrying out her responsibilities as a teacher. He accused her of exposing Woodlan students, who are in grades seven through 12, to inappropriate material and said if she did not comply with his orders she could be fired.
Yoder would not comment for this story, but Melin, who said he hasn’t read the editorial, said school officials do not have an issue with the topic but with the lack of balance and thoroughness in the opinion piece. Sorrell also should have consulted with Yoder before the article was printed, Melin said.
Melin would not comment on any disciplinary actions taken against Sorrell.
The students also asked the EACS board to clarify its policy on tolerance of gays and lesbians, which it did not address. Melin said there is no policy and didn’t think the board should have to go as far as to write one. Melin said EACS has had a policy since 2003 that states principals have the authority to review each issue of a student publication before it goes to print. It’s up to the individual principal how he or she wants to enforce it, Melin said.
According to its Web site, the Journalism Education Association strongly opposes prior review.
Prior to the editorial being published, Melin said Yoder asked Sorrell to bring to him any stories she thought would be controversial. In fact, Sorrell brought Yoder a piece on teen pregnancy that appeared in the same edition.
“I didn’t think it was going to be an issue at all. I didn’t think anybody would be upset about it,” Sorrell said of the editorial on gays and lesbians. She wrote a rebuttal to Yoder’s warning and sent it to him and Novotny.
Melin cited the 1988 Supreme Court case, Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, which ruled St. Louis school officials had the authority to censor stories about teen pregnancy and divorce in its high school newspaper.
Adam Goldstein, attorney at the Student Press Law Center, said the Woodlan situation does not fall under the Supreme Court precedent, which permits a school to interfere with student expression only when it can provide a legitimate educational basis for doing so.
In the Hazelwood case, school officials were able to prove the articles went against what was being taught in the classroom.
“If students are not being taught tolerance in the classroom, their problem is much larger than this particular incident,” Goldstein said.
Yoder is practicing an illegal form of censorship, Goldstein said, and the Student Press Law Center has available attorneys who are willing to donate their time if the Woodlan students take the case to court.

Unbelievable — suggesting that gay and lesbian students shouldn’t be bullied and harassed is unacceptable in school? So that logically means the School Administration is in favor of gay and lesbian students being bullied and harassed?

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The “Hoo Haa” Monologues

Irony, the phone is for you. A Florida theater was forced to change the name on their marquee after morons complained about the word “vagina” appearing in the title of the play “The Vagina Monologues” – which is, of course, a play about making women more comfortable talking about their bodies.
Personally, I wouldn’t have chosen hoohaa as the replacement — it should, of course, in the spirit of the play, be “Cunt.”

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. — A modified marquee in Atlantic Beach has been drawing some attention. “Hoohaa” replaced a word in the title of a play after a driver complained about finding the previous wording offensive.
“We got a complaint about this play The Vagina Monologues,” said Bryce Pfanenstiel, of the Atlantic Theater. The Hoohah Monologues is a replacement title for The Vagina Monologues — a well-known play about that part of the female body. “We decided we would just use child slang for it. That’s how we decided on Hoohah Monologues,” Pfanenstiel said. They did this after a driver who saw it complained to the theater, saying she was upset that her niece saw it.
“I’m on the phone and asked ‘What did you tell her?’ She’s like, ‘I’m offended I had to answer the question,'” Pfanenstiel said.

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Journalist under criminal charges for filming Katrina evacuees

A journalist and a TV producer working on a piece about Katrina refugees have been charged with the crime of videotaping a “critical national security structure” in Louisiana… Palast Charged with Journalism in the First Degree:

On August 22, for LinkTV and Democracy Now! we videotaped the thousands of Katrina evacuees still held behind a barbed wire in a trailer park encampment a hundred miles from New Orleans. It’s been a year since the hurricane and 73,000 POW’s (Prisoners of W) are still in this aluminum ghetto in the middle of nowhere. One resident, Pamela Lewis said, “It is a prison set-up” — except there are no home furloughs for these inmates because they no longer have homes.
To give a sense of the full flavor and smell of the place, we wanted to show that this human parking lot, with kids and elderly, is nearly adjacent to the Exxon Oil refinery, the nation’s second largest, a chemical-belching behemoth.
So we filmed it. Without Big Brother’s authorization. Uh, oh. Apparently, the broadcast of these stinking smokestacks tipped off Osama that, if his assassins pose as poor Black folk, they can get a cramped Airstream right next to a “critical infrastructure” asset.
So now Matt and I have a “criminal complaint” lodged against us with the feds.

Dectective Pananepinto, in justifying our impending bust, said, “If you remember, a lot of people were killed on 9/11.”
Yes, Detective, I remember that very well: my office was in the World Trade Center. Lucky for me, I was out of town that day. It was not a lucky day for 3,000 others.
Yes, I remember “a lot” of people were killed. So I have this suggestion, Detective — and you can pass it on to Mr. Bush: Go and find the people who killed them.

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AFA boycotting Desperate Housewives

The American Family Association is urging a boycott of Desperate Housewives. Of course my response to TV censorship is always “unplug the TV” — but this time the nutjobs are addressing my retort:

Some people have said to pro-family viewers who dislike indecent network TV programming simply to turn it off, Wildmon notes. In response, he asks, “Why should we have to do that? Why do our children need to be exposed to such trash? Why do the networks keep putting out trash?

Because some of us are paying good money for that trash, mister, and we want it on our damn TVs. You can take my favorite TV shows when you pry them from my cold, dead hands. Which will never happen, because if it comes down to me or you biting it, it’s gonna be you.

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“The Kiterunner” does not contain “pornography”

Some (idiot moron) parents in Lawrence Township schools are objecting to the book “The Kiterunner” being assigned in class, because they claim there is a scene that is “pornographic” in it.
The Kiterunner is a story of children living in contemporary Afghanistan, and is a wonderful, amazing book. It is, unfortunately, fairly true to life, and there is violence and brutality in it, including a scene where a young boy is brutally raped by other young men who are bullying him, and children who later become the victims of child exploitation. But that is a fairly real picture of what can happen in countries that are torn apart by strife, as Afghanistan is. And to be blunt, the story of children bullying and raping each other can and does happen here in Indiana, too. If you don’t think it does, you’re a naive fool.
The idea that the scenes are “pornographic” — I want to go to those parents (Julie and Tom Shake are their names) and say “I do not think that word means what you think it means.”
What really sucks about all this is that because some retarded parents complained about it to the school board, the township is considering having a panel of people review all teaching materials that will be presented to students. So a censorship board is being planned for Lawrence.
Too bad the response from the school couldn’t be giving the parents a ticket for stupidity and requiring them to come back to school and get a better education so they understand what the hell “pornography” is. Stupid is as stupid does, I guess.

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Quad Cities Censorship

This is an interesting article in the Quad City Times, about a book called “The Misfits” that was banned at the elementary school level in the Quad Cities.

“I knew I had all of those signs of being gay, and I couldn’t make sense of it,” said Howe, who wrote “The Misfits,” a book about four kids and their battle with name-calling. “When I figured out it was actually something that described who I was, I was terrified of being that. It was considered an illness, morally reprehensible.”
“The Misfits” launched a firestorm in the Quad-Cities when the Pleasant Valley School Board decided to restrict its use at the elementary-school level, where teachers are not allowed to read it aloud to students. The book has a gay character, Joe, who is the main character in Howe’s sequel, “Totally Joe.”
“The Misfits” also launched a national initiative called “No Name Calling Week.” The organizers of Howe’s visit are asking area schools to have their own version of No Name Calling Week from Feb. 20-24.

Ironic that they book is about not mistreating people, including gay people, but it’s being censored, although the article does talk about programs at some of the Quad City schools to prevent bullying.
It’s interesting to me because I have a couple relatives who are employed in the school system in the Quad Cities. I wonder what they think.

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The Book of Daniel

Man, you ignore political news for one day around here, and the shit hits the fan. Everyone’s talking about the Terre Haute TV station that’s refusing to air the NBC TV show “The Book of Daniel.” that premieres tomorrow night. I hadn’t even heard of it, and had to go look up what all the fuss is about. Here’s a hysterical and freaked out synopsis of the show, from the American Family Association’s newsletter:

It is time to make our voice heard at NBC that we will not long remain silent about their anti-Christian bigotry. Here is what NBC considers to be a positive portrayal of Christians and Christianity:
The program’s main characters include Daniel Webster, a drug-addicted Episcopal priest; his alcoholic wife; his son, a 23-year-old homosexual Republican; his daughter, a 16-year-old drug dealer; a 16-year-old adopted son who is having sex with the bishop’s daughter; his lesbian secretary who is sleeping with his sister-in-law; and a very unconventional white-robed, bearded Jesus who talks to the priest.
It is written by Jack Kenny, a practicing homosexual who describes himself as being “in Catholic recovery,” and is interested in Buddhist teachings about reincarnation and isn’t sure exactly how he defines God and/or Jesus. “I don’t necessarily know that all the myth surrounding him (Jesus) is true,” he said.

Practicing homosexual? Man, that Jack Kenny better work harder if he’s only practicing. Most of us have got this stuff down already. Ahem.
Anyways… the AFA is leading a huge campaign to contact TV stations all over the country to try to persuade them not to air the show, and some wingdings in Terre Haute and Little Rock, Arkansas have taken their disinformation at face value.
You can contact the stations yourself, if you want:
Indianapolis station 317-636-1313
Terre Haute 812-696-2121
Me, I went right out and DVR’ed the show so I can see what all the fuss is about. Sounds like a hoot. Seems like the best way to get a ton of publicity is to get the AFA to boycott you. Hmmm.
Jesus is a pussy! That’s right! He’s a yellow-bellied, pink-wearing nancy-boy! And did I mention I’m a homo? I really am!

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