Tuesday, November 15, 2005

What Can My Child Learn from Large, Voluptuous Bouncing Breasts?

From a handy form for reporting Bad Books, from Parents Against Bad Books in Schools (pabbis.com).

Does the book contain any sexual content?
For each type checked above also indicate level of vividness/graphicness using the following as a general guide:
Basic (B): large breasts
Graphic (G): large, voluptuous bouncing breasts
Very graphic (VG): large, voluptuous bouncing breasts with hard nipples
Extremely graphic (EG): large, voluptuous bouncing breasts with hard nipples covered with glistening sweat and bite marks

Now, I don't disagree in principle with the idea of monitoring the content of books that children read in school. Somebody's got to do it, and props to pabbis for having a repository of information about books one might find objectionable.

In fact, they have a much better idea than banning certain books, though it is still fundamentally flawed. They propose Upfront Informed Parental Consent, in which the books that will be used are identified with any potential objectionable material for parents to review and approve, as well as qualifiers about edcational value contained therein. That's great, for classroom use. It only makes sense that a teacher should be familiar with the teaching material he will use.

The problem is that they want teachers and librarians to read every book in the library to identify "objectionable content."

Some school systems have thousands of teachers and librarians and billion dollar budgets. Books need to be reviewed by your child’s teachers and librarians as part of the process of determining them appropriate for selection. You shouldn’t have to read every potential book your children could be assigned or pick up in the school library to determine if there is objectionable material.

But as pabbis itself admits

Bad is not for us to determine. Bad is what you determine is bad. Bad is what you think is bad for your child. What each parent considers bad varies and depends on their unique situation, family and values.
A teacher or librarian reading a book might not determine that something is bad, according to any other individual's values. And I would think that someone who chooses teaching or safeguarding books would be more prone to finding value in even objectionable material.

Each parent would still need to read the material to determine, by their own standards, what is objectionable. Even though there might be a "Parent Advisory Label" on books, parents would still have to read those books for themselves to determine if there is any educational value, or if the books are just peddling cheap smut (romance novels come to mind). Otherwise we would have a system wherein parents would just have a blanket veto on certain-rated books, which is still the same as banning them without considering their educational value.

Pabbis' method of reporting books and excerpting objectionable material is a good starting point, but also serves as an example of why an idea similar to "Parental Advisory Labels" doesn't work. I don't know a lot of the books which pabbis lists, and the excerpts taken out of context do sound bad, unnecessarily violent, crude, and pornographic. But some of the books I am familiar with, and I know that taken in context, there is a reason for the objectionable material.

For example, I think a junior or senior should certainly be able to handle I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Exodus, The Name of the Rose, or The Source, which are a few of the books reported as potentially objectionable. If a younger person is reading those books, that is some smart, mature kid. Really, I can't imagine a kid choosing to read The Source. I didn't finish it two years ago, and I am much older than 18. Kids would be much more likely to read something by Stephen King, which has objectionable material and not sufficient educational value to justify being in a school library, IMO.

Found via Playboy Magazine -- yeah, I sometimes read Playboy.

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