Aerden (aerden) wrote,

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Stuff and Outrage of the Week - Textbook Censorship

All--My cataract surgery is scheduled for June 12, the day after tomorrow! I'll let you all know how it went when I get back.

My husband Mark just told me the Ultimate Spam Subject Heading: Get Lolita Out of Debt By Adding Three Inches to Your Mortgage!

Firefly News! A DVD is being made containing all the episodes of the now-cancelled TV show Firefly, along with three episodes which were never aired! There is also talk of a movie in the works.

Rest in Peace: Trevor Goddard, who played Brumby on JAG, died Sunday morning, apparently of a drug overdose. That is quite sad news. I have not seen a celebrity OD death in a while; had begun to think that Hollywood folks were getting wiser about drugs.

Outrage of the Week:

This week's Outrage is American school textbook censorship. This past weekend on Book TV, C-SPAN's weekend programming, I heard a lecture given by writer Diane Ravitch on her latest book.

The book is called The Language Police. If you have children or are in an American public school, I urge you to read this book, so you can learn what is going on in the textbook industry, these days.

I really don't know how Ravitch was able to give her speech without shaking with rage. I was shaking, by the time she finished.

Political correctness, in the guise of state panels which screen textbooks for cultural bias, is rampant in the US. Textbook publishing companies have things called 'Bias and Sensitivity Guidelines' to which authors must adhere, if they are to have any hope at all of getting their textbooks published.

Activist groups of both the liberal and conservative persuasion vie with each other to censor our children's textbooks. The liberal groups ban words, and the conservative groups ban certain attitudes. For example:

Liberal Groups Ban

Conservative Groups Ban

  • Any gender-specific words: 'Cowboy' becomes 'cowhand.' 'Fireman' becomes 'firefighter.' 'Founding Fathers' becomes 'Framers of the Constitution,' despite the fact that they were all men.
  • Reference to the handicapped as the handicapped - It might hurt their feelings.
  • Portrayal of any group being of predominantly one gender (usually male) or of one ethnic group (usually caucasian)

  • Social characteristics, such as children being disobedient, lying without consequences, children in single-parent families - as if none of these things are experienced in the real world by children every day.
  • The notion that some children live in less than loving homes
  • Any references to magic, aliens, or the supernatural. The Harry Potter books are great sources of controversy, because of this.

Sometimes, textbooks are censored or edited to meet bias and sensitivity guidelines, even though what was orignally described in the textbook was factual.

According to Ravitch, what is even scarier about these publishing companies is that they keep their bias guidelines secret. While some book companies will freely provide their guidelines to those who ask, other companies will outright lie to parents (and they lied to Ravitch), saying they use no guidelines, when in fact, they do.

What I want to know is, why do we allow this sort of thing to go on? Why do we allow these political correctness activist groups to have so much secret power over us and what our children learn in public school?

I think every parent should vet their children's history, literature, and science textbooks every year, and if the textbooks display rampant censorship, parents ought to protest en masse to the school boards and at PTA meetings.

We are all former students, and we should all be outraged that this has been done to us and is being done to our children.

These political correctness groups have only the power that we allow them to have.

What Edmund Burke said is true: "Evil cannot triumph unless good men do nothing."

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