Monday, January 30, 2006

I Mess With Texas, Part 8

I had promised to dial these back in the new year. Fresh start, why be so mean, you know.

And then another excuse to continue not just comes along, but begs a flogging. So I persist.

Anyhow, this one was almost a near miss. Not that it was so slight it seemed not worth mentioning, but more that it seemed like a good thing. And then, like so much about Texas, the good thing went bad. So very bad, so very fast.

From the Galveston Daily News.

On Monday, Friendswood Mayor Kim Brizendine issued a proclamation declaring Jan. 31 Galveston County Reads Day for “all citizens, teens to seniors.”

On Friday, he issued a press release that expressed concern about the content of the book.

Brizendine said he regretted endorsing (“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”). He also said the Friendswood library board would be reviewing the placement of the book in the library.

For those who haven't read this great, fast, delightful read, it's a mystery told from the first-person POV of an autistic teen. A dog next door is killed, and he vows to find out who did it. Along the way, he finds out a lot more about himself than he ever intended. A great, great book.

Just, not in Friendswood (ah, where to start with the ironies)?

Friendswood council member John LeCour was not happy with the selection. He said the book could “pollute” young minds.

“My main issue is the profanity in the book,” he said.

He said he had read most of the book. He said he felt the profanity did not add to the “intellectual value” of the topic.

“I personally don’t think it is good literature,” he said. “I think it will be popular for 15 minutes and than it will be forgotten.”

Don't you love the fanatics who go around quoting Andy Warhol, a guy they wouldn't have let shine their boots because he was a ho-mo-sexual?

But I digress. Invariably, we get to the censor in the story who hates the book he hasn't even read.

Councilman Chris Peden had not read the book, but he said it was more than just profanity bothering him.

He did note the profanity was not buried deep within the book. He said he was disturbed to read the “F” word on Page 4.

“Later in the book, the kid says there is no God and there is no life after death,” he said. “Clearly, these are not ideas we should promote to kids.

“I am not saying the book should be pulled off the shelves. We just shouldn’t be using taxpayers’ dollars promoting and purchasing a book the community wouldn’t approve of.”

Such a fragile, fragile religion they practice in Texas. It cannot withstand even one consideration that there is no God. For if someone considers it, they will be irretreviably corrupted. Yea, and it was so.

But wait. He's not just not read the book, he's also got his facts wrong:

Stanley said no taxpayer money was used for the books the committee donated to the council and area libraries. Private donations fund the organization, she said....

Scales said no matter how the council members tried to package their feelings, it all boiled down to censorship.

“In the country that is supposed to be the freest in the world, we are trying so hard to control our young minds,” she said. “Just because they read it in a book doesn’t mean they will go out and say it.”

She said she was almost unsure how to respond to the councilmen’s discomfort with the novel’s protagonist dealing with existential questions such as God and the after-life.

“Not every character that we read in literature — or even in real life — will mirror our own values,” she said, “What literature can do is let us see all sides of life.”

She said the book has many merits, including teaching tolerance and compassion. She said she feels often politicians look too hard at individual words without considering the whole work.

Peden didn’t buy that.

“A lot of liberal do-gooders say we should take the book in its entirety,” he said. “That’s like saying a man is a great deacon at his church, a great Little League coach, a great provider for his family, but he beats his wife. That is not a good man.

“The firestorm is all the liberal pacifists who are trying to make us out to be book burning, goose-stepping Nazis. That’s not the case at all. There are plenty of books without profanity we could promote.”

Zing! He loses; he used the Hitler reference. (As is the rule in all debates, he who resorts to the Holocaust, Hitler or Nazis -- against which of course there is no continuing the debate -- loses.)

But shit, those damn liberals. Always fouling the waters for everybody.


That said, I have one nice thing to say about Texas: Kinky Friedman for Governor. He deserves our kinky love.

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