Censorious Parent Calls Cops On Teen Giving Away Books In A Local Park
from the protect,-serve-and-enforce-personal-beliefs? dept
Here's where moral panic meets police state... and fortunately, in this case, one of the two involved parties actually showed some common sense.
Here's the short version:
A teenager giving away free books at a book giveaway event at a local park has the cops called on her by a local citizen.
After about an hour of Kissel passing out books to teenagers, Meridian police showed up. They said they had been called out by someone concerned about teenagers picking up a copy of the book without having a parent's permission.Not sure why that's a police matter rather than, say, a parental matter, but that's the way these things go. If anything, the parent involved probably picked up the "let law enforcement handle everything" attitude from educators, who seem to have relinquished the duties of the principal's office to armed law enforcement officers.
To their credit, the police arrived, checked everything out, and left.
So, why would a parent find giving away a book to be a police matter? Well, that's the longer story.
Junior Mountain View High school student Brady Kissel showed up at Kleiner park in Meridian to pass out the book parents are complaining about. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Some parents believe the book is not appropriate for 10th graders. Others who showed up said they had no problem with their teenager reading it.Parents have tried to ban Alexie's book because of some very dangerous words that should apparently never be viewed by 10th graders. According to the student passing out the book, the "sexual content" of the book is almost wholly contained within the following sentence.
The book was taken off the Meridian School Districts reading list and is under review. It is still on the shelves in school libraries.
Some Meridian parents objected to the sexual content in the book. Others say the book is anti-Christian. Some readers say they've seen worse.
Kissel says, "There's a paragraph right here where it has some sexual content. But if you look at it it's a paragraph this big in a 230 page book." That page reads 'If God hadn't wanted us to masturbate, then God wouldn't have given us thumbs."It's a good thing the citizen stepped up, or 10th graders might know what masturbation is. It wasn't just one citizen, however. It was several. Meridian, Idaho's school board voted 2-1 to ban the book, which was apparently all the justification needed to send cops after a teen giving away copies of the forbidden novel. One local idiot offered his opinion as to why the book just needed to go away.
[A]n adult named Lonnie Stiles complained that the Alexie novel contains language “we do not speak in our home.”Ah. I see. So "not in your home" should mean "not in any home." Stiles is listed as an adult in this article but his behavior (along with a number of Meridian's citizens) sounds dangerously childish. If Stiles doesn't want his kid to read this "offensive" book, he should do all he can to prevent his, and only his, children from doing so. What he shouldn't do is allow his personal squeamishness towards certain words and subject matter to become school policy.
So, once again, it's the kids who are acting more mature than the adults. Somehow, they feel that banning the book would make it less likely to end up in teenagers' hands, an idea that is clearly refuted by the whole of teenage existence since human life began.
Kissel's decision to hand out 350 copies of a banned book was a statement against this small-minded board decision. 350 students signed a petition asking for a reversal, which was ignored. In response, these students were provided with their own copy, showing just how easy it is to route around censorship. As noted earlier, the book has only vanished from the school's library. It's still available at the public library, so all the outrage expended was entirely useless -- like it almost always is.
But this one went a bit further, with a parent apparently believing that the cops are there to enforce stupid school policies outside of school and uphold his or her "not on my bookshelf" morality. Ridiculous.