I Mess With Texas, Part 15

Ah, the messing with Texas. It's been since May since messing has been done! And really, there is always so much going on it is hard to know where to begin.

For those new to the series, I'll link to them at the bottom of this email. (They're all over at the Blogger account.) And for those new to the series, the thing is: When your so-called slogan is "Don't mess with…." and you're as f-ed up as that (unnecessarily) egocentric state is, you deserve whatever you get. When you spawn a "local" who calls himself "President," then it's war. And when you suck my entire family into your craw — even if it is into the generally amiable part of the place called Austin — well, this is where things get personal.

I have said here that I will call a halt to hostilities once I have ten things good to say about Texas. I only have three. And so, we continue.

Meet the Houston Community Newspapers. The HCN have broken the story that a Houston resident with a 15-year old daughter is complaining of the use of "Fahrenheit 451" in class. Clearly, he thinks it's "Fahrenheit 9/11," and nobody's cleared him up. And just as clearly, he thinks Alanis Morrissette is the one who best understands the idea of "irony." Yes, that's right, let's get rid of a book that talks about getting rid of books. So far, nobody's mentioned burning. But I digress. From the article; my comments in italics:

Alton Verm, of Conroe, objects to the language and content in the book.
His 15-year-old daughter Diana, a CCHS sophomore, came to him Sept. 21
with her reservations about reading the book because of its language.

I'm sorry, but Alton Verm? Wasn't that a character on "Rocky & Bullwinkle"? Cheap shot, but could there be any state other than Texas that has someone named Alton Verm who hasn't raced to the courthouse to change it?

"The book had a bunch of very bad language in it," Diana Verm said. "It
shouldn't be in there because it's offending people. … If they can't
find a book that uses clean words, they shouldn't have a book at all."

Define "clean words." Does "Jackbutt" work for "Jackass"? And what about all of those Biblical translations that keep using the word "hell"? At what point do you cease to be offended by mere words, Diana, you sensitive thing, you?

Alton Verm filed a "Request for Reconsideration of Instructional
Materials" Thursday with the district regarding "Fahrenheit 451,"
written by Ray Bradbury and published in 1953. He wants the district to
remove the book from the curriculum.
"It's just all kinds of
filth," said Alton Verm, adding that he had not read "Fahrenheit 451."
"The words don't need to be brought out in class. I want to get the
book taken out of the class."

Oddly, these people have almost never read the book. I should think it somewhat undercuts your argument (not that you're actually following logical precepts here) to have no exposure to that which you condemn. But then again, that's me.

He looked through the book and found
the following things wrong with the book: discussion of being drunk,
smoking cigarettes, violence, "dirty talk," references to the Bible and
using God's name in vain. He said the book's material goes against
their religions beliefs. The Verms go to Grand Parkway Church in Porter.
"We went them to go after God," said Glen Jalowy Jr., Grand Parkway
Church youth minister. "We encourage them that what you put in your
mind and heart is what comes out."

Shoddy state, shoddy editors. It goes against "their religions beliefs"? And "We went them to go after God"?

Alton Verm said he doesn't
understand how the district can punish students for using bad language,
yet require them to read a book with bad language as part of a class.

Therefore, since acts of slavery, bigamy, sex outside of marriage, sodomy, murder, war and prostitution are "punishable" offenses, one should not read any books that suggest, portray or otherwise describe them as part of any sort of learning experience. Okay: Throw out the Bible! Now!

Alton Verm's request to ban "Fahrenheit 451" came
during the 25th annual Banned Books Week. He and Hines said the request
to ban "Fahrenheit 451," a book about book burning, during Banned Books
Weeks is a coincidence.

Because Lord knows, Alton ain't much of a reader. How would he know about Banned Books Week? Or, as this copy editor allowed, Banned Books Weeks?

For what it's worth, the Houston Community Newspaper (or should that be Newspapers) has printed its own commentary on the situation here. It's not quite a bitchslap to Verm, but it does say in part:

Fahrenheit 51, written by Ray Bradbury and published in 1953, is no
obscure work of fiction, and although the novel uses graphic language
and scenes to explore its themes, it's certainly not the crudest bit of
literature out there on the market. The same words and themes are
common to today's media landscape – and sadly, are part of the dialogue
in the hallways in our schools. It's certainly not over-the-top for a
reading list for high school students.
Even then, parents have a
choice — they can simply ask that their students be allowed to read a
different book, one that doesn't violate their beliefs.

This was
the option Alton Verm could and should have taken, rather than trying
to pull the book completely from the reading list. Our public schools
must engage in a constant balancing act, striving for a neutrality to
religious views that doesn't topple over into hostility. The CISD's
book policy seems to be handling that balance just fine at the moment.

Amen to that!

The full collection of I Mess With Texas Archives here:

I Mess With Texas, Part 14
I Mess With Texas, Part 13
I Mess With Texas, Part 12
I Mess With Texas, Part 11
I Mess With Texas, Part 10
I Mess With Texas, Part 9
I Mess With Texas, Part 8
I Mess With Texas, Part 7
I Mess With Texas, Part 6
I Mess With Texas, Part 5
I Mess With Texas, Part 4
I Mess With Texas, Part 3
I Mess With Texas, Part 2
I Mess With Texas, Part 1

Thanks to Lynda for pointing me the right way.