1. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Today's Disturbing News

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by chicagoliz, Oct 30, 2014.

    I saw this on my facebook feed this morning. Apparently, more nonfiction books these days are being banned or are the focus of banning efforts in the schools. Books on things like income inequality or the working poor. (Like Barbara Ehrenreich's wonderful book Nickle and Dimed.) Seriously? An accusation of being somehow "anti-capitalist" is enough to try to get a book banned? What have we come to?

    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/oct/21/us-adds-poverty-to-dangerous-reading-lists?CMP=share_btn_fb
     
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  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I have to wonder if there is a direct tie (it would seem intuitive) between this and the attempted efforts by school boards in certain states to sanitize and patriotize (not a word) the lesson plans for students. I've read numerous articles of students at the high school level protesting what they feel is a deeply Orwellian chain of events compromising the quality of their education.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/04/us/after-uproar-colorado-school-board-retreats-on-curriculum-review-plan.html
     
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  3. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Personally, I hate the very idea of banning books for any reason, but I think it's reasonable for parents to object to the assignment of certain books to their kids by the school system. For example, I would oppose a science textbook that presented creationism as a legitimate theory of the origin of species.

    If we're just talking about fiction, books promoting a partisan political view, Right or Left, have no place in a public school curriculum. We should be able to use fiction to examine problems like income inequality or poverty without necessarily advocating a particular slant on possible solutions.
     
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  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do think it's all part of the same movement. Bad enough to mess with the curriculum, but then to go a step further and not even want the book available is just ... just.... too much.
     
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  5. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    A system that is theoretically reliant on free speech is banning books. It sounds like a joke, but I don't hear anyone laughing.
     
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  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I'm laughing, but only because of how stupid America is becoming.
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It's not funny. It's profoundly disturbing. It speaks of insularism, separatism, and some founding concepts are being flexed in ways that make the flexing very hard to tackle because these founding concepts are considered untouchable at any level. It's so like (maybe part and parcel with) the housing collapse and subsequent economic crisis in the U.S. Housing is a sacred and foundational part of our economy. It's not something to be fucked with in a cavalier manner. It was, no one saw it for what it was, those who did were ignored, and look what happened. Everyone scoffs at the idea of civil war (unrest, whatever you want to call it), but no one ever sees it coming, do they, until it's right on top of them.
     
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  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Reminds me of some of the activities of the John Birchers in the Claire Connor book @chicagoliz recommended to me. :)
    "Wrapped in the Flag: A Personal History of America's Radical Right".

    Connor's parents along with other JBs complained relentlessly to school district officials about 'unpatriotic' school textbooks.
     
  9. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    There has been little news coming from the rioting cities in the states that I've noticed (I don't watch a lot of news though) but from what I've seen on Facebook things are getting pretty darn ugly.
     
  10. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Scientific inaccuracy is one thing, but political POVs are not as easily evaluated for evidentiary support. How do you propose kids learn about those different POVs if they are censored by school officials? And who gets to decide which politics to support or censor?
     
  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Rioting cities? Where?

    There is unrest in Ferguson, as there should be. It's hardly the making of a civil war.

    The government didn't push the Clive Bundy uprising. But it was a handful of extremists, not some brewing civil war.
     
  12. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Ok, one rioting city, but I don't think it has the potential to start a civil war. I didn't use that term for that reason. I don't know what is going on across the pond in all honesty, I just see what I see on Facebook.
     
  13. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    My point exactly. The public schools shouldn't be 'evaluating' political views and then passing those evaluations on to the students. You wouldn't easily know it from our current national discourse, but it is possible to present facts, observations and history fairly without any sort of political spin, even in fiction. No censorship, just honest presentation of the circumstances and, if you must, an examination of all possible solutions. Anyone who can't bring him/herself to provide an unbiased recitation of, say, modern societal problems without adding his/her own political shading shouldn't be teaching or administrating in our schools.
     
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  14. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    It almost makes me think that democracy can't really work in the long term. Sure, it can work for a while and have a good run, but eventually the monied and powerful class will take over. They're taking away books that aren't even advocating for specific action -- just talking about what it's actually like to be, for example, part of the working poor. You blind people to what's happening, take away their empathy, demonize certain groups, and you've got people who shouldn't be voting for the interests of the rich doing just that.
     
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  15. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is the key point -- the objections are not just to "political shading," but to the *facts.*
     
  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I don't see how it is possible to eliminate the perception of promoting a POV.
    Take for example, the discussion we touched on earlier where one person's perception of promoting liberal views on college campuses is another person's perception that reality has a liberal bias. When it comes to political and social POVs you'd be hard pressed to find that neutral ground where people would agree no particular POV is being 'promoted'.
     
  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    History has a long track record of revolutions when the rich get too powerful and the poor get too poor. But I often wonder what will happen when the political power of the rich includes the best science of control.
     
  18. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know. Or is it just one big continuous cycle? Things have to get really, really bad for quite some time, and then people finally rise up?
     
  19. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think Orwell wrote about the use of certain words to control thought, in 1984. That's why we should be careful when we want to use emotionally loaded words, like "communist," or "misogynist," or "bible thumper," every time we disagree with someone. All it is likely to do is shut down intellectual discussion and create fear.
     
  20. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Newspeak wasn't exactly political language, you are thinking of his essay 'Politics and the English Language' which was about using words that mean one thing but suggest another. Like 'Collateral damage' to mean the death of civilians.

    Newspeak was reducing the number of words available to people to control throught, so something that was bad was described as 'ungood', something very good was 'plus good'. Thus an entire range of emotions is being simplified to yey or nay, and really only the word 'good' is used to form expressions.
     
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  21. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're right. Thanks for letting me know (how embarrassing, it's been a while since I read the book, obviously). I guess I need to take a look at this essay.
     
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  22. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In that case I guess the technique is far from new.
     
  23. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    You're right. It's absolutely imperative if a democracy is going to remain one, that the people who vote understand what they're voting for. They need to understand the issues, the way people manipulate 'facts,' and all the other things that come into play during election time. If they are spoon-fed 'truth' at school and are not encouraged to look at all sides of an issue and come to a reasoned conclusion, then democracy is dead. It becomes mob rule. That's not the same thing at all.
     
  24. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Two teenagers just received a week's (at least) suspension from school because they posted a photo of themselves in their Homecoming Dance outfits, holding obviously plastic guns, on a personal facebook page.

    The First Amendment is currently on life support, and is not expected to recover.
     
  25. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    What has an action to stop religious discrimination got to do with it? :confused:
     

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