One thing that always amuses me about reactionary revisionists, aside from the fact that, on the whole, they have no sense of humor and rarely appreciate the finer joys of bowling or karaoke, is that the so-called legions of “citizens” championing “literary standards” have no names. In the case of the “Citizens for Literary Standards in Schools,” not so much as a “Joe” or “Orville” or a “Babbitt” can be found in the comments section.
It reminds me of the Ku Klux Klan. What better way to maintain the “safety” of your “controversial” perspective when stringing up another man and torching his home then by keeping a hood over your head?
For all I know, this group could be just one 42 year-old guy living with his mother who has a lot of spare time on his hands. I’ve sifted through this site and I’ve found absolutely nothing in the way of contact information.
Fortunately, with the magic of WHOIS, I’ve determined that the “Citizens for Literary Standards in Schools” is run by Janet Harmon and Gerry High of Lenexa, Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports that “five hundred residents” have signed a petition. But where is this petition? Why isn’t it displayed on the site, much less corroborated? If these people feel so strongly, what are their names?
Kansas City Star reporter Eric Adler tracked Harmon down for an interview. Among the highlights:
- When the list was a mere fourteen books, Harmon hadn’t read all the books, thus rendering her conclusions highly suspect. (Even stranger, Barbara Kingsolver is listed twice.)
- Ulysses was once listed as an “alternative” to these offensive books, only to be removed when someone had gone to the trouble of reading it.
- Harmon didn’t like Lord of the Flies because it was “depressing.”
- Harmon used to be a public school teacher. No word what her career is now. Her husband builds churches. And, not surprisingly, she homeschools her kids.
- “Good books can deal with difficult issues and not use the f-word, use graphic descriptions of sex and violence. That’s what great books do.” No clue on where Harmon stands on Norman Mailer’s cowardly use of “fug.”
To which we reply, fuck that.
Apparently, Harmon’s efforts haven’t been very successful. The Blue Valley Board of Education voted to keep Tobias Wollf’s This Boy’s Life (the book that made Harmon’s head explode) on the curriculum.
(Hat tip: Michael Schaub.)