Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Student Decries School P-rn Pushing Policy and Calls for Book Ratings

What follows is an outstanding article coincidentally illustrating why so many American Library Association [ALA] claims of censorship are false, why so many arguments the ALA makes for allowing children access to sexually inappropriate material do not ring true. Various arguments are set out as examples. And it describes why sexually inappropriate material should not be pushed on children, from the viewpoint of eighteen year old student Dia Darcey, no less.

SafeLibraries has been saying that the ALA recommends sexually inappropriate material for children without providing any warning as to the nature of the contents. See, for example, "P-rn Pushers -The ALA and Looking For Alaska -One Example of How the ALA Pushes P-rn On Children." And that is exactly what this student argues: "But in lieu of that, I need some form of warning, a label, a rating or even hint on the outside of literature to let me know the extent of objectionable content therein, no matter how highly the talk shows recommend it or how 'enlightening' it may be.."

This student has written a truly outstanding article. She is an example for all. Therefore, I am reprinting her letter and urge you to read it, keep it in mind, and bookmark this page.

"An Argument for Book Banning . . . Or At Least a Forewarning of Content," by Dia Darcey, Tulsa World, 11 August 2008 (emphasis added and hyphen added to p-rn).

My advanced literature class has introduced some truly enlightening literature this semester.

"Yay! More black-and-white p-rnography!" I exclaimed as we students were assigned the latest required reading by our English teacher.

In Advanced Placement, we are offered both timeless classics and newer, popular titles to challenge and advance our thought processes. Still, at times, I feel that I'm being subjected to more detail than may be found in an X-rated movie. This kind of p-rnographic content should be banned, or at least censored.

Heck, I'd even appreciate a warning scribbled on a Post-It note inside the front cover.

Personally, I would prefer that my primary sex education NOT occur accidentally during English class. When teachers require this material, they condone the content, whether they like it or not. How can administrators sleep at night when they're promoting this double standard?

"Here, read about this and this and this. Aren't we learning a lot? Whoa, hey! Stop that! Where ever did you ever get that idea?!"

'Monkey see, monkey do' goes doubly for teenagers, and as much as we teens try to prove our maturity, the facts still stand firm: Raging hormones, developing frontal lobes and social stresses combined with ever-widening freedoms create more judgment problems for teenagers than any other age group.

How can intelligent parents block cable, V-chip MTV, ban HALO III and punish us for dirty language, but not bat an eyelash as we pull out our homework assignment to annotate the (at least) R-rated "Beloved" or "Catch-22"?

What, you think it won't affect us because it's on a page? Because it's not a series of moving pictures or graphics? Because it's in print, it requires an advanced vocabulary and increases our comprehension? Some of the most influential mediums in the world were and are books. Anyone ever heard of the Bible? "Mein Kampf"?

What we listen to, what we watch and, believe it or not, what we read, affects us.

When faced with my resistance, my English teacher does her best to give me a few reasons that we, as high school seniors, are exposed to these kinds of books:

Art is art, and those who would define, refine or confine it lose its very essence.

Who is to say what is acceptable and what is not, and how long will it be until the tyranny of politically correct editing creates a real "1984" state?

The truth is only truth when it flows without barrier or constraint, letting loose the human soul to spring unfettered across the wide expanses of creativity!

Only illiterate, ignorant zealots want to censor books — we fear what we cannot understand!

Truly discerning readers are able to appreciate the author's purpose in including any language, events or descriptions.

Personally, and as an AP literature student with a kick-butt ACT reading score, I'm a bit skeptical of the generalizations that all censorship is the product of ignorance and can be placed on the same level as cannibalism, deforestation and Hitler. It seems to this ignorant National Merit Scholar (not to drop titles or anything) that everyone is anti-censorship because none of us wants to be labeled a philistine.

Book-banning is bad, of course — it's censorship. It is simply un-American to chain the creative tendencies of our budding authors because of fogey old ideals.

I am not advocating censorship. I'm asking the schools and publishers alike to consider my point of view. Even as an 18-year-old "adult," I would like a choice in my exposure to gratuitous sex, violence and language, even in the name of learning, literature or art.

I would prefer compelling literature without the public-pleasing passages that "elevate" the book to best-selling status. But in lieu of that, I need some form of warning, a label, a rating or even hint on the outside of literature to let me know the extent of objectionable content therein, no matter how highly the talk shows recommend it or how "enlightening" it may be.

In every other entertainment industry, producers are required to rate their product so the public can make an informed decision. Which is the greater travesty? Depriving the reader of information, judgment and free choice and calling it freedom of speech, or risking the buzzword "censorship" to facilitate knowledge and choice?

Voltaire is credited with the remark: "Though I may not agree with what you say, I will defend to the death your right to say it." It's a truism of freedom of speech and indeed, of all American liberties.

I would not like to contradict, but rather augment, this passage with another phrase: However, I do not have the obligation to read, listen to or analyze whatever garbage you have randomly passed off as "art" this afternoon.

Dia Darcey (918) 581-8336
Jenks graduate and rising Brigham Young University freshman satellite@tulsaworld.com

By Dia Darcey, Satellite Correspondent
Copyright © 2008 , World Publishing Co. All rights reserved.
CREDIT: The Tulsa World


  1. Perhaps she should also take a course in logic. I'm loathe to think what's to become of the world if some of the country's best students can't think about and weigh controversial material and make their own judgments. If teenage brains will be badly compromised by this sort of literature, I wonder what effect a lifetime of watching the news on genocide and violence across the world will do, not to mention the casual violence in even g-rated movies. The world doesn't come with a warning label.

  2. Anonymous, you have a point, but so does she. And her's aligns with those of people like Naomi Wolf and others I have quoted on my P-rn Pushers page linked above.

    Also, her point of view cannot be so easily pushed aside by the means you use. For example, by saying, "Perhaps she should also take a course in logic," your first comment is an ad hominem attack on her. The rest does not address the issues she raises.

    Sometimes you even ignore what she said. She pointed out examples of ratings in various forms of media but you say, "The world doesn't come with a warning label." Well, yes it does, in some places. That is exactly what she is pointing out.

    Please do try to poke holes in her argument, but avoid personal attack and stick to the issues she raises.

  3. Without getting into your "save the kids" paranoia, this writer is 18. She's old enough to make her own decisions. If she doesn't feel a book is appropriate for herself, then she shouldn't read it. I don't care if the book is part of her classwork -- if she doesn't have the moral fortitude to stand up for her beliefs, then it's her own problem.

    I find it repugnant that she needs to be parented for the rest of her life.

  4. The problem with this article is this - she did no research at all. The MPAA rating system and the RIAA warning labels are not "required" at all. This, of course, makes her argument mute.

  5. Why do people trying to prevent children from accessing sexually inappropriate material need research, but those pushing the material on the children as illustrated in this young lady's story need no research to prove such material has no effect whatsoever?

  6. You said -

    "Why do people trying to prevent children from accessing sexually inappropriate material need research..."

    What I was referring to, if you read my comment again, is her failure to provide real-world scenarios where such a limitation exists in other media forms. And to answer YOUR question, she must prove that such material IS sexually innapropriate - and not for children - she is an adult, in a college level class. These are NOT children's books, and she is not in a children's level class. She is an adult, and she should be expected to be able to deal with adult topics.

    Did you even read her article? Or my statement? I get the feeling you think she's referring to... middle school? She's 18 - an adult.

  7. I will answer your question quite literally.... those choosing to refer to such materials as "sexually innapropriate" must prove their case simply because experts in the field have decided otherwise.

    If experts in the field - this would include professors, professional writers, and yes, librarians - decide that such literature is appropriate, then the arguement rests upon the unskilled to prove for some reason that such material is "innapropriate."

  8. "Anonymous said...
    The problem with this article is this - she did no research at all. The MPAA rating system and the RIAA warning labels are not "required" at all. This, of course, makes her argument mute.
    Thu Aug 14, 12:09:00 AM 2008"

    MOOT, dang it...MOOT!
    Evidently, the world doesn't come with a thesarus either.

  9. Or a dictionary! Thanks for commenting.

    See my latest blog about my talk with an author.


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