The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Close To Home

San Antonio's very own Judson Independent School District looks to pull the critically acclaimed novel, "The Handmaids Tale" by Margaret Atwood off of their AP English reading curriculum:

Judson Superintendent Ed Lyman has pulled a critically acclaimed novel from the district's Advanced Placement English curriculum after a parent complained she found it sexually explicit and offensive to Christians.

Lyman overruled the recommendation of a committee of teachers, students and a parent when he agreed to remove "The Handmaid's Tale" by Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood from the curriculum.

He made the decision even though district policy allows parents who object to reading material to request their children be given an alternative assignment.

The committee that approved its use has appealed Lyman's decision to the school board, which is to render a decision at its regularly scheduled meeting Thursday.

Lyman said he found some of the descriptions in the book too sexually explicit for high school students. He said his beliefs as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints didn't influence his decision.

"The tone of the book does not support, in my opinion, the effort by our state Legislature to encourage abstinence outside the bonds of marriage," said Lyman, who came to Judson less than a year ago from Ingleside, where he also was superintendent.

The efforts by our state Legislature to encourage abstinence outside the bonds of marriage. That is the funniest reason I have ever read for pulling a book. I mean, at least Arlene Wohlgemuth wanted to pull "To Kill A Mockingbird" off the shelves because it had 'dirty words' in it... even though she has never read the book.

But wait, it gets better:

Cindy Pyo, who said she holds degrees in English, Bible and education, requested her son be given an alternative assignment, a request the school honored. He and a handful of other students in the class read Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" instead of "The Handmaid's Tale," she said.

That wasn't solution enough for Pyo, who said Tuesday that she feels it's her duty to ensure no student be able to read "The Handmaid's Tale" in class.

"I have a responsibility to the country and our community to speak up for the values that will strengthen our society," she said.

It is her duty and responsibility to THIS COUNTRY that no person at Judson ISD ever read this book in class. I shouldn't be so facetious though, if she feels so strongly about this maybe it should happen. Just one question- what exactly is this book about?

"The Handmaid's Tale," published in 1985 and made into a film starring Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway and Robert Duvall, tells the story of an environmentally blighted United States after a coup.

Civil war rages as a fundamentalist Christian regime revokes all women's rights and presses the few who remain fertile into sexual slavery as breeders, called handmaids, for infertile couples.

Civil war raging across an environmentally blighted US after a fundamentalist Christian regime revokes all women's right? Oh those crazy sci-fi writers, what will they think of next?

Update: Pink Lady brings the funny.