Monday, November 20, 2006

penguisexual misguidedness

Spunky is concerned about those darned gay penguins. Actually, the concern is with control of public schools not being with the local community. I can understand that concern, even as a homeschool family. If the school system was substantially different, I might feel differently about my own kids attending school. I also might not.

Here's the problem though. She suggests that schools should more closely mirror the local community, representing the values of that community. As tax dollars are taken by the state to be funneled back to the schools, the schools are less concerned with community standards and more concerned with state or even federal standards. Problem? That a few uptight christians could pervert the system with majority rule and make the schools places that teach things they have no business teaching.

Spunky uses as her example the book about gay penguins raising a baby. I will admit that I haven't read the book, and any statements I might make as to the contents of this book are in fact complete hearsay. I don't know if I will ever read the book. If either of my boys wants to check it out from the library, I will gladly do so and will happily read it with them. Given the community in which I live, I wouldn't be surprised if a christian family has already checked it out and "lost" it in order to save us from the evil gay penguins.

Spunky's problem here is that the community library should move this book to a more mature section so that poor innocent babies don't accidentally read it. One must assume that she fears kids will get the gay if they so much as walk past the shelf it's on, so we are better off putting a kids book in the adult section of the library where no one will ever have the evil gay get to them. She's upset that the community wanted this book removed, but it wasn't, and this is her example of the problem with non localized school control.

The real problem with her theory is that she is just plain wrong. If we were to bow and scrape to all such misguided parents, we should much more easily and cheaply just shut down the library system. The majority is not always right, and this is a case in which parents should police themselves and their own children. If your kid has a book about gay penguins and you don't know it, it isn't the book's fault or the library's fault. You should have parented a little bit better. If I want a children's book about gay penguins, I should be able to find that book in the children's area based on the Dewey decimal system. If my kids want books about gay penguins, they too should be able to find that book where it belongs, once again using Dewey's magical number code.

My real argument is best described in the terms in which I commented to her. She may or may not post my comment. Either way, it's here for all to see, and I stand by it. I'm about tired of this clamor from the religious freak fringe, and I may just get some non christians together to start protesting. Perhaps their books do not belong.
What if the request were that books containing the christian christmas story be moved to a more mature part of the library? I don't want my kids minds perverted by any superstition, so all books containing christian references are, to me and my family, books that should not be left where kids might accidentally pick them up and get confused by mysticism.
And that's my point. Christians all too often want to bitch and moan about losing their rights to force their stories on us. They protest that their children are not allowed to pray in school when the truth is that they just aren't allowed to force the whole school to pray as they deem fit. Schools are places where much prayer happens, but like the biblical pharisees, today's christian wants to be able to stand up and pray aloud and force all those around to be part of that prayer even if that part is passive. They can't accept that they don't have the right to force everyone to undergo their ceremonies. In the interest of fairness, if we allow them that right, then we must allow all religions that same right. They want their ten commandments in the court rooms, but they don't want buddhist koans in the court room. They want "under god" in the pledge of allegiance, but they don't want vishnu or allah included.

Now we come full circle to those pesky penguins. This is yet another battle the christians deserve to lose. They should not be able to force their strictures on all of us. They should not be able to force a christian state where a secular state belongs. They don't really deserve the time they take trying to enforce their rights while trampling the rights of everyone else. And the penguins aren't gay from what I've heard, but leave it to christians to make everything about sex in the end. They sound awfully dirty minded when you take the time to think about it.

hat tip to Chris for directing me to Spunky yet again.

Update: As Spunky mentions in her comment here, she did comment at her own blog that she tends to disagree that parents' desires to have certain books removed should automatically be a prompt for those books to end up being removed. However, in this quote I lifted from her post that I linked to above, she seems to suggest that perhaps parental requests for book removal should not be overlooked.
That's why you have library books about gay penguins in the schools over parents objections. It's just one book, but the school administrators are reluctant to remove it.
I should hope that the schools are reluctant to remove this book as they should always be reluctant to remove books because someone's knickers are in a twist.


Spunky said...

You misunderstand. I said at the end of the post that I DON'T want a return to the 1940's.

My WHOLE post was addressisng Andrilie's comment that parents should DEMAND they teach according to the dictates of the local community. And the schools can't and won't. That will only happen when the purse strings switch away from the state's hands.

I don't believe it's the state's business to teach our children, Christian or otherwise. Education is inherently about values and beliefs. Even the atheist has a belief system that translates into his values. The public schools will never satisfy all beliefs. They can't to teach them all is to teach none entirely accurately. Because each relgiion believes their truth to the exclusion of the others. So they will end up satisfying none. The sad thing is that most people the schools can accomplish the impossible. And the state lets them go on believing they are netural for their own reasons. They are not. Public education works because people are willing to forfeit their personal convictions for the convenience of a free education.

My problem is NOT that this book should be removed to another place in the library. Not at all.

Here's the other comment I left on the post that you seemed to ignore.

The point for me was that parents in that local community didn't like the book and they were ignored. I understand the rationale, if they pulled every book because parents objected there would not be any books in the library.

My only point was that the parents don't have as much of a say as the state would like us to believe. They continue plead for parental involvement and then ignore the thoughts of the parents. Even the suggestion of moving it to a more mature portion of the library was met with cries of "censorship."

It's not the schools that I expect to change, like you I wonder why Christians keep fighting these senseless battles.

Spunky said...

Of course the parents concerns should not be overlooked. They are responsible for their children, not the state or the schools. The fact that they were unwilling to work with the parents demonstrates WHO holds the authority, the school and not the parent. You seem to want me to say something I am not. The example only demonstrates who holds the authority. Nothing else should be read into that statement.

It is best when reading blogs not to think about what the writer "seems to say" and stick to what is actually said.

samuel said...

I don't disagree, and in a perfect world we would always communicate in a perfect way. Sadly or not, for better or worse, a huge portion of communication is inference.

kimzyn said...

Well, Samuel, I agree with you on the issue so far. I guess I can see Spunky's point, which I am taking to mean (ugh,I am inferring this) that if the parents want their kids not to see the gay penguin book, they should homeschool them because that is the only way they could gain the authority to do so.

Ok. That is probably true, but I would not prevent my homeschooled kids from reading such a book. If my local library had a children's book about some topic I found morally offensive I don't think I would ask for the book to be banned or hidden or prevent my kids from seeing it. I would let them read it if they wanted to and then talk about what I found objectionable in the book and ask for their opinions. On the other hand, one of the libraries nearby had manga with sexual imagery in the kids section and I found that to be disturbing. I'm not against kids knowing about sex but I think the material has to be age-appropriate and just the fact that these are same-sex penguins that are raising a baby penguin IMPLIES age-appropriateness, doesn't it? I mean, I doubt there are gay penguin love scenes going on. So it is the very knowledge that gayness exists that the parents are trying to shield their kids from and that bums me out but doesn't surprise me.

samuel said...

In answer to Kimzyn on the manga issue, I'm kind of a fan of manga, and most of it is not kid appropriate in my opinion, and most of it is certainly not intended for kids. I would guess that someone didn't read the material but saw what they assumed was a basic American style comic and assumed it was likely to belong in the kid's area. This gets at a major difference between Japanese comics and western ideas of comics. We tend, generally, to think of comics as superhero stories whereas in Japan, manga and anime are very popular with a much wider age group. It is very likely in this instance that the material really was in the wrong place.