Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Is this real?

Long post today.

A "sample book review documentation form" for a group calling itself Parents Against Bad Books In Schools (PABBIS) was linked to by boing boing. They appear to be based out of Virginia.

From their home page: "Bad is not for us to determine. Bad is what you determine is bad. Bad is what you think is bad for your child." Mmm-kay.

When I read through the "sample documentation form" I thought this must be a joke. Some kind of spoof site making fun of intolerant people with an emphasis on Southerners. But then I checked out the list of books that have been submitted. The amount of effort that has gone into highlighting all of the objectionable material in the first book seems to be carried out through all of the rest of the books on the list. And there are quite a few of them. So I'm reasonably certain they are serious.

Reading through a couple of the books listed was like getting the Cliff Notes of the dirty bits. Really handy if you are in a hurry and don't want to be bogged down by plot, pacing and character development. You know, if you would rather ignore the message of the book and focus on the boobie bits.

But before you can get to the books you will have to pass the WARNING screen. Let's have a look, shall we?

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Warning (Okay, it's red. Good start. Upper/lowercase seems an odd choice, but there you go.)

Some of the material in these K-12 school books is extremely controversial and many people consider it objectionable or inappropriate for children. The content you are about to view contains adult material that may not be appropriate for all users. (Redundant within the first two sentences.) Before viewing this page you must read and agree to the following: (Okay. Now how in the Hell is this even possible? I can't view this page until I've read and agreed to what is on this page? C'mon people. THINK!)

1. You are an adult (18 years or older) and have read and understand this warning. (And it is, once again, redundant. That's twice in four sentences. Is that a record? Sure, it's not totally redundant. The previous sentence mentions agreeing and this one prefers understanding and also mentions that you need to be 18 or older. Still you would think there could have been a way to combine them. Some day SCIENCE! will have an answer.)
2. You understand that the material may involve language, content and themes of an adult, objectionable or controversial nature. (Which was already pretty much stated within the first two sentences of the page. Mmmmm... redundant?)
3. IN NO EVENT WILL PABBIS BE LIABLE TO YOU FOR ANY DAMAGES OF ANY KIND resulting from viewing or any other use of this material. (Now this is the first thing they've said that isn't repeated or repeating! I love this sentence. It really engages my noodle. My upper noodle. My brain, that is. Presumably my lower noodle will be engaged once I pass this page. I can't help but consider the wide range of potential damage that may result from viewing their content. Not to mention the other possible uses such content might have beyond being viewed. For example, if I were to print out one of the more salacious book reviews on the list and rub it on my bare chest, will demons spring from my nipples? At least I can be sure that if they do, PABBIS will NOT be held liable.)

If you agree, click here to continue. (And this is the second! Although I'm bit surprised they don't say "If you agree and understand...")

The file is large so BE PATIENT if you don't have a high speed connection (If you have the patience to download a dozen or so nude celebrity pics then you should do just fine.)
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I can't link to any of their books to use as an example because I don't want to be accused of circumnavigating their child resistant warning page. So instead I'll toss out a few quotes from various books and you can go get the rest if you are so inclined AND you understand AND agree with the statements on their warning page. We can even turn this into a game. See if you can find what books these came from without doing a search of the page. Here we go:

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- “Ask me if I give a shit.. Go fuck yourself, I hear him say.” (It's important to keep the channels of communication open at all times.)

- "Sulis sought me out. 'Perhaps we should work some sex magic together to assure you of a safe journey? ..... Her hair was soft against my lips and the magic came strong and sure." (Teaching alternative religion in schools just shouldn't be allowed!)

- “…you little shit” (you're in it now. I hope they throw away the key. You should've talked to me more often than you did. But no! etc.)

- How to tell your parents you are ready to have sex (Just not with them.)

- “..Donkeydick (woke) the merchant..brandishing before his slumber-dazed eyes a prodigious erection.” (At least he woke him first. That's not the kind of thing you want to wake up to on your own. You might get out of bed and bump into it unaware and that would be awkward. At the minimum it shows good manners.)

- yes, pain (??? no, morphine?)

- “You know I have a girlfriend. I mean we have sex and everything.” (And I DO mean EVERYTHING! Four kids, a mortgage, the car is breaking down..."

- Look at Your Vagina (Just look at it! Tsk tsk.)

- “..all we’ve been doing is sleeping and fornicating..” (You call this a honeymoon?!)

- “..we’re gonna get our dicks handed to us..” (And then we will finally be MEN!)

- “..witch’s tit..” ("What is 'Something really cold' Alex.")

- homosexual monks (always dress so sassy.)

- “.. almost cut me a new, asshole..” (Hahahahaha! Wonderful comma placement.)

- “Jesus Christ!” (Superstar!)

- “I was horny all the time…” (What teenager has ever felt like THAT?)

- “..taught me that once I got into a fight I should ‘grab for the balls right away’.” ("Sic' balls Chopper!")

- “Who in their right mind would offer Jesus drugs in the first place?” (You just KNOW He's a narc!)

- L: “You weren’t gay last Sunday, if I recall.” (You were watching football and everything!)

- “..impaled butt-up on a rusty javelin.” (Ouch.)

- Looking at girls in Playboy, wondering if “he would die before holding a girl’s breast in his hand.” (I remember wondering that when I was 12, only it was while watching "A Cavalcade of Boobies" on Cinemax.)

- Constant use of "Jesus Christ" (is only allowed in The Bible, various religions and to keep gays from marrying and Bush in the White House)

- Looking at new baby: Just as I thought! Big nose, big feet, and big dick!” (Especially for a girl.)

- “Death makes me hungry... I want to go to bed, make love, right now.” (Get me a taco!)
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The last thing I'm going to point out about this organization is their "Find a Bad Book?" page. I shall now dissect it purely for the purpose of humor... actually, now that I've read through it I realize if I were to take apart the whole thing it would double the length of this post. I'll just highlight some of it. If you want me to do the whole thing on a later post just ask:

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You found your child had a book with vivid descriptions of sex, violence, vulgar language or something else objectionable to you. (And you are sure it isn't one of those you have hidden under your bed.) You have lots of questions. (Which are...) How dare the school allow this junk! (Is it because they are daring and dashing-do?) Why? (Why not?) How did it happen? (Are you pregnant?) Are there other books like this? (If I burn this one will I rid the world of all sin?) Why are they doing this to my child? (Can I read it when you are done?) To you, the parent, it definitely seems like the school is corrupting your child and undermining your values and parental rights. (And if there is any corrupting of your children that needs doing, by God YOU will do it!)

You knew violence and pornography were everywhere these days but you didn't know the schools were in the business. (And business is gooood.) What other stuff will your child read in school? (Evolution!? The Bill of Rights?! The... lunch menu?!) Some minimum standard of decency has been violated. (We don't know what minimum, but we are certain that SOME minimum has, and like us you are totally against violating minimums.) You feel the school system is forcing their values (or lack of values) on you and your child. (And they are hiding it behind "learnin'" and other high falutin' "ideas") What should you do? (Learn?) Somebody, somewhere in the school system must have decided this book was good. (But it wasn't you and that must piss you off.) Well you think it is bad. (Yes. You do. Now that I've told you what you think, stop thinking.) You think it inappropriate, obscene, vulgar, lacking educational value or merit, or containing too graphic violence, etc. (I told you to stop, not "run with it" dammit!) You don't understand how this book could be considered appropriate. (And the last thing that we want you to do is understand. Except on our warning page. Nipple demons: not our fault.)

Are things like this going on in other schools in your county? (Are you paranoid?) Is this a systemic problem in the schools? You want to feel comfortable with your child in the hands of the school system. (I'm not even comfortable with that statement.) We parents entrust our children to the schools. We understand others values may be different than ours and we also understand that our children should and will be exposed to different ideas, but this has gone way over the line. (But we swear we really do understand. It's just that line. You can't do anything about a line. It's like... a line. Ya'know?) Your trust has been betrayed by the schools. (Time to break out the pitchforks and torches. Assemble the mob. I feel a hangin' comin' on!)

You want to be sure nothing like this happens again, either this year or down the road. ("The road is looonnnnngggggg. With many a winding turn...") You hope this incident has been a mistake by individuals and does not reflect your school systems policy. (You are so gullible.) And you don't feel you should have to read every potential book your children could encounter in the schools to screen out this stuff. (That would be taking an active interest in what your child is doing, not to mention you've already done your time at school. Mostly.)

Regulations on Student Responsibilities and Rights nearly always state students have a responsibility not to use obscene materials. (Except when they don't.) We think they also have a right not to be exposed to it. (Except when they do.) Are the schools, county and state violating our rights and values? (Yes they are. With a big stick and no Vaseline.)

Jumping down a bit now...

GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS (Isn't there always?)

GOOD NEWS

- You are now aware of the problem and forewarned is forearmed (And the more forearmed you are the better. Look at Popeye. He always wins! You wanna be like Popeye, don't you?)

- If you object to a book, the school will usually find an alternative for your child (Like home schooling. And I'm afraid that's it for the good news. It's all downhill from here.)

BAD NEWS

- There are a lot of bad books in the schools and it is getting worse (We need to cut school funding so they can't afford any new books before it's too late!)

- Your child might have read the bad book, or participated in classroom discussions on it before you found out (And now it's your duty as a parent to beat your child until he loses his short term memory. If that fails you can probably find a pamphlet on do-it-yourself lobotomies.)

- It is hard to know what book they might encounter in school next and if there will be anything in it that you don’t want your child to read or discuss in school (So, to be on the safe side you should consider blinding and deafening your child, either temporarily with a gimp mask or permanently with a ten-penny nail.)

- Some other child will encounter the same book again, in the same or another school, resulting in another surprised parent (It's almost like a game. "Surprise the Parent!" You should write messages in the book that can be passed along to the newly surprised parent like, "I feel your pain", "You are not alone", "Stop crying", "Shed blood, not tears." Or, you can make the decision for them and chuck the book on the fire. God knows YOU are the one to decide for everyone. If it's not for your child then any other right minded person should feel the same way, certainly!)

- Most people are unaware of the problem (And they are blissful in their ignorance. We must stamp out the bliss! Save the children!)

- Some people don’t care if their kids read this stuff (Some people are prepared to discuss things with their children. A gimp mask is easier.)

- People don’t know what to do about it (Except us. We decided to set up a website to make it easier to find these objectionable books. It might have been a mistake, but we'll let History be the judge.)

And that's quite enough of that.

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"Boring a hole in the patient’s head creates a door through which the demons can escape, and - viola! - out goes the crazy."