THE TEXAS server T SEPTEMBER 18, 1992 VOLUME 84, No. 18 FEATURES Redistricting and the ‘New Texas’ By James Cullen 5 George Bush as Lazarus By Thomas Ferguson 8 Buses, Bush and Blue-pencils By Molly Ivins 10 Bush-Speak By Paul Boeller 12 America’s Third World Tilt By Christopher Cook 15 DEPARTMENTS Editorials 3 Environmental Observer Raw Deals in Point Comfort By Kate McConnico 16 Las Americas The. Wind Blows in Juchitan By Alison Gardy 20 Books & the Culture More Texas Memories Book review by Bryce Milligan 22 What’s Good for GM TV review by Steven G. Kellman 22 Political Intelligence 24 Cover art by Gail Woods I AM NOT FAMILIAR with The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, but some parent in Normangee did us the favor of objecting to its presence in the local high school library, for alleged “obscene language, lust, rebellion,” and because it “portrays women only as objects of lust,” and “portrays religious double standards.” The objector also contended that the book would “lower [a student’s] principles, or demoralize them.” My goodness! In a high school library? Children, run quickly and check out this book before someone gets around to banning it at your school! In Normangee, which straddles Leon and Madison counties, the school board restricted access to the book, requiring parental permission to check it out. This was one of 27 incidents that earned Texas the distinction of tying with California for second place in the nation in the number of textbooks and educational materials challenged by would-be censors during the 1991-92 school year, according to a report by People for the American Way. \(Florida led the way with 34 attempts at censorship, by the way. There must People For the American Way researchers documented 376 censorship attempts nationwide during the past year, a 50-percent increase over the previous year, while attempts in Texas were more than double the 13 reported during the 1990-91 school year. In 14 Texas cases this past year, some the objections resulted in some restrictions on the books or educational materials and in two other cases the offending books simply disappeared from the libraries. Local chapters of the American Family Association and Citizens for Excellence in Education organized campaigns to remove the “Positive Action” self-esteem program in three communities, succeeding in Pasadena. An informal challenge to Richard Bradford’s Red Sky at Morning at Diana resulted in the teacher’s decision not to use the book next year. Works such as Jean Auel’s The Valley of the Horses, Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon, and S.E. Hinton’s Tex were among various books challenged throughout Texas. Freedom of the press also saw some setbacks. Corpus Christ Independent School District trustees approved the new student newspaper regulations, which prohibit student writing that, among other things, “might reasonably be perceived to advocate drug or alcohol use, irresponsible sex or conduct inconsistent with the shared values of a civilized social order.” The new regulations were based on a 1988 Supreme Court decision in Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, which signifi cantly broadened school officials’ control over student publications. A journalism teacher complained that the new rules stifle creativity, while a student editor added, “It sounds like they’re trying to avoid any issues that may cause controversy with parents.” Although Deer Park and Galveston school boards rejected the calls to remove Positive Action on the grounds that it promoted “humanistic tendencies” and “New Age religion,” an elementary school principal in Pasadena dropped the program after the president of the local AFA attacked it and circulated anti-“Positive Action” materials in the community. In other cases: In Angleton, an elementary school principal sought removal of Animal Reproduction by Malcolm Penny from an elementary school library after students were found “hooting, laughing and passing the book around in the school cafeteria before school.” The school’s media specialist managed to convince a review committee that removing the book would invite further challenges. It was placed in the library’s reference section for overnight checkout. In Arlington, objections were raised to The Mammoth Book of Murder for containing “appalling filth” and for “being nothing short of pornographic and to The Watchers by Dean Koontz for sexual references. The Mammoth Book of Murder remains on library shelves, but The Watchers has disappeared. In Clute, a school principal, in apparent violation of district policy, unilaterally removed The Witches of Zorn by Zilpha Keatley Snyder from a middle school library after complaints it promoted witchcraft and Satanism. The book will remain banned until the objecting student graduates. In Elgin, objections to I Have to Go! by Robert Munsch, available in a pre-kindergarten through third grade library, for being “distasteful and unappealing” and using the word “pee.” A review committee decided to keep the book, noting that there are children who would find the book helpful. In Garland, a parent objected to six books on a recommended reading list, including Teacher From the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler, Dinosaurs Beware by Marc T. Brown, The Rainbow Goblins by El de Rico, The Ghost Eye Tree by Bill Martin Jr., The Very Worst Monster by Pat Hutchins. and There’s a Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Mayer, for depicting adults as mean and looking like witches and for making references to sorcery. In response to the complaint, the teacher refrained from using the questioned books for the remainder of the school year. In Grand Saline, parents objected to the Junior Great Books series, under consideration for elementary and middle schools. Although there was little specific criticism, the objector remarked that “about half this stuff is pretty weird,” and singled out a story in which a young boy attributes a bird’s death to the “will of Allah,” instead of “God.” In response to the complaint, the review committee dropped the series from consideration. In Houston, parents objected to 13 selections from the Junior Great Books series, used in fourthand fifth-grade “Academically Abled” classes. The objectors complained that “The Nightingale” by Hans Christian Anderson is “extremely depressing,” that “The Secret of the Hattifatteners” by Tove Jansson “describes a father’s lack of commitment to his family and EDITORIAL Censors on the Rise THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3
You May Also Like
The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.