What’s the Matter with Kansas?

The post title is quite the recurring question, it would seem.

Kansas FlagToday we ask what the point of the following might be:  Teacher prosecution bill approved by Kansas Senate

The idea behind the bill is to make it easier to prosecute teachers and school administrators for using lesson materials deemed harmful to minors.

Supporters of the bill say it will further protect children at school from being subjected to images or curriculum that could have nudity or be considered pornographic.

[…]

If prosecuted, the penalties for teachers could be severe.

Under Kansas Statutes, a teacher prosecuted for this would be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor, which could mean no more than six months of jail time or a fine no larger than a $1,000.

First, I have a had time believing that pornography is a part of the Kansas curriculum, but of course, some people consider any reference to sex to be “pornographic.”  For example, from another story from Kansas concerning legislation in opposition to Common Core standards we find the following:

Rep. Joseph Scapa, R-Wichita, the bill’s sponsor, did not testify during the hearing. But on Monday evening, he explained his rationale for introducing the bill.

“Common Core is full of so many things that don’t align with our Kansas values,” Scapa said. “For example, the English standards: The suggested reading lists are full of pornography. The standards themselves, in my opinion, are not rigorous.”

Asked which books he found pornographic, he cited “The Bluest Eye,” a novel by Toni Morrison, a Nobel Prize-winning author.

Scapa pulled up a post on an anti-Common Core blog about “The Bluest Eye,” which included excerpts from the book dealing with sexuality. Scapa said he hasn’t read the whole book.

“I looked at enough of the book that I didn’t want to read any more,” Scapa said.

“I think that’s dirty,” Scapa said, pointing to an explicit passage. “I just don’t think you want 10th-grade boys – in some classes they read this out loud – reading this out loud. It causes problems. It gives them ideas.”

So, we go from “reading lists…full of pornography” to one example that the Representative had only read portions of.  Nothing like due diligence when making dramatic claims.  Also:  I don’t think that 10th grade boys need literature to inspire thoughts in the more procreative realms.
(I have not read Morrison’s book, so cannot comment on the exact nature of the content, although it would seem that one of the characters is raped twice.  I cannot say if that is all the sexual content of the text or not or if this is what Scapa is offended by.  Still, calling the novel pornographic strikes me as neither understanding the definition of the term nor understanding literature in general).
Second, the notion that teachers would be fined and jailed because someone might think a novel, work of art, or scientific discussion is “offensive” is maddening.  Teachers already have more than enough challenges to overcome.  Fears of fine and imprisonment should not be added to the list.
I cannot determine what the odds are that this legislation will pass the Kansas state House, so it is unclear to me if it will become law.
FILED UNDER: Education
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Gustopher says:

    I have two overlapping theories that I think explain everything:

    1. Americans, once they get far enough away from a large body of water, go completely insane.

    2. The slave states are still insane.

    Kansas falls under the first rule.

  2. KSMom says:

    Professor Taylor, I’m afraid your brain might explode were you to ponder all of the doozies our legislature has considered advancing thus far. My personal favorite would prohibit employees of all public schools, including universities, from listing their professional credentials when publishing letters to the editor or opinion pieces that criticize the governor, the legislature or any passed law or pending legislation. No one will own up to introducing this spectacular piece of crap, but a couple of legislators have gone on record complaining about having their feelings hurt by big mean professors who have the audacity to use their level of expertise to inform their fellow citizens about the issues facing our state.

    All of this is occurring against the backdrop of a looming deficit of billions of dollars thanks to the know infamous Brownback tax cuts. Priorities, we got ’em.

  3. @KSMom: Yes, I read about that one as well–I meant to comment at the time, but didn’t get around to it. Astounding stuff, to be sure.

  4. Loviatar says:

    What’s the Matter with Kansas?

    SASQ: Republicans

    There are no longer “reasonable Republicans” the Republican party now consists of the insane and evil and those who support them (Doug Marconis, James Joyner, etc.)

    You guys keep thinking you can find reason with the insane and evil. You can’t.

  5. CSK says:

    Shakespeare might present them with a bit of a problem.

  6. LAgraves says:

    @Gustopher: Kansas was never a slave state, but the Tea Party has effectively enslaved it.

  7. Hal_10000 says:

    This crosses me as less “Republicans are crazy” than “won’t someone PLEASE think of the children”. We see this sort of garbage all the time, sometimes from right wingers trying to keep sex out of school books and sometimes from left wingers trying to keep racism out of them (yes, my school did have lefty parents trying to ban Huck Finn). In the end, that’s why this kind of law is so dangerous. Because it will be used to enforce whatever ideology some lawmaker or parents sees fit. Or, more likely, to make education as bland and useless as possible.

  8. Loviatar says:

    @Hal_10000:

    And here we have the – both sides do it – crowd to provide cover for the insane and evil party. Hey Hal_10000 in your leftys banning Huck Finn story did the leftys place a law on the F@#$%ing books to send teachers to jail for teaching Huck Finn. Did they, if not its not the same.

    Both sides don’t do it, only one side is insane and evil. The other side may be corrupt and stupid, but I’ll take that any day over the other option.

  9. Hal_10000 says:

    @Loviatar:

    Anyone even remotely familiar with the current debate over campus speech codes or “hate speech laws” would not doubt that “both sides do it”. When it comes to basic liberties, “both sides” are in fact, the same side, just approaching from different directions.

  10. @Hal_10000: I understand your point, but the comparison is incorrect. Regardless of what you might say about college campuses, you cannot equate that to threatening school teachers with prison or fine. It is not the same thing.

  11. Loviatar says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Anyone even remotely familiar with the current debate over campus speech codes or “hate speech laws” would not doubt that “both sides do it”. When it comes to basic liberties, “both sides” are in fact, the same side, just approaching from different directions.

    So could you provide a link to the circumstance where from a “lefty” point of view a law was passed criminalizing teaching.

  12. MikeSJ says:

    I don’t approve of it or really even comprehend the reasons behind these efforts but in the end this is what Kansas wants isn’t it?

    They voted for this. They asked for this. In the end they are going to get what they wanted and they are going to get it good and hard.*

    Now I wouldn’t be thrilled if I’m a teacher in Kansas but you know what? You chose to be a teacher and you chose to live in Kansas. So suck it up or move out of state or quit teaching.

    Anyway, if the books that are objected to are part of the curriculum then you should have the school administer and school board join you during your stay in the Big House. It’ll practically be like being at work.

    Bottom line here? It’s Kansas’s mess, let them deal with it.

    *Mencken sort of.

  13. michael reynolds says:

    That is the difference. Lefty nuts complain and demonstrate; righty nuts try to pass laws and throw people in jail. Ironic, isn’t it? The party of “small government” invariably goes for government oppression.

    Kansa is nuts.

  14. Loviatar says:

    @michael reynolds:

    righty nuts try to pass laws and throw people in jail.

    and also kill.
    .

    On this day of the Selma marches lets not forget righty nuts have been the biggest internal threat to this country since the civil war.

    Assassination of George Tiller

  15. michael reynolds says:

    @Loviatar:
    I’m pretty sure some Muslims were behind that. Also Oklahoma City. That was ISIS.

  16. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    Shakespeare might present them with a bit of a problem.

    As would the Bible.

  17. Loviatar says:
  18. superdestroyer says:

    When something like this happens, I always wonder who these guys have as staffers. Are their advisors really this stupid? Is there not one person advising these types of politicians who will act as a naysayer? Is there not one adviser who can contemplate the media’s reaction to such proposals? Maybe a prime directive for all politicians is that if you cannot talk to the media about your idea, then it is a bad idea. If you have to hide from the media, then the idea is bad.

    Also, I actually remember when Repubicans used to be able to catch liberal Democrats saying something or proposing something stupid when it comes to education. Have we already forgotten the Ebonics controversy? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oakland_Ebonics_resolution When did conservatives become so lazy that they cannot dig up a good controversy that is the left’s doing?

    Also, when the issue of what is being read in high school English classes is discussed, I love to link to a very good editorial from a high school English teacher on more of the real issues involved. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/22/AR2008082202398_pf.html

  19. Hal_10000 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    That’s correct: campus speech codes don’t want to jail people, but they do aim at expulsion and attempt to suppress speech people don’t like (as do free speech zones, such as the ones supported by many of the politicians speaking at Selma today).

    Hate speech laws, on the other hand, *do* seek to jail people. Here is Anthea Butler calling for the arrest of the “Innocence of Muslims” filmmaker. Here is Erik Bleich supporting hate speech laws in the wake of Charlie Hebdo. The ICCPR and other treaties call for restrictions on “hate speech”.

    Yes, this law is well beyond the pale. I would oppose it, vote out any politician who supported it and support any challenge in court. But to write this off so glibly as Republicans being “insane and evil” is just another opportunity for two minutes of hate. I don’t see the value in that.

  20. @Hal_10000:

    ut to write this off so glibly as Republicans being “insane and evil” is just another opportunity for two minutes of hate

    And, oddly enough, I never said such a thing.

  21. Loviatar says:

    @Hal_10000:

    So you have nothing.

    You mention Anthea Butler an Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Graduate Chair in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania calling for jailing. Other than doling out grades what is her power again?

    You then mention Erik Bleich a professor of Political Science at Middlebury College calling for jailing. Other than doling out grades what is his power again?

    It took you 45 minutes to come up with a couple of college professors exercising their constitutional right to spout crap. You’ve got nothing. Both sides don’t do it, just the insane, evil party you’re attempting to provide with cover.

  22. de stijl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Also Oklahoma City. That was ISIS.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. You cannot possibly be wronger!

    Oklahoma City was a false flag operation run by the Clintons to discredit patriotic militias.

    It is known.

  23. Gustopher says:

    I don’t think Kansas is that far out of step with the rest of the Republican held middle of America — the slave states are their own thing, living with the legacy of the evil that is slavery — they are culturally 20 years behind the rest of the country, they see where the country is heading, and they are angry and lashing out.

    Is there anything uniquely Kansas about any of this? I don’t see it.

    A cornered wolf will bite. A cornered poodle will propose legislation jailing teachers for teaching things deemed harmful or pornographic — anything to keep the culture of the cities and the coasts out.

  24. Stonetools says:

    Kansas is what happens when conservatives get a chance to put their entire economic program -which consist of tax cuts for the rich and cuts in social spending – in place. Needless to say, economic chaos ensues. The way conservatives distract from the economic chaos and growing inequality? Why, attack the gays, the minorities and the pointy headed intellectuals who were right all along. This play seems to work all the time. I guess appeals to bigotry and right wing economic mythology just naturally trump appeals to reason out there in the land of tall corn. I think nothing more than another dust bowl is going to allow reason to break through to the heart landers. It’s only after that that they realized that environmental degradation and the tragedy of the commons weren’t socialist plots. Some kind of similar disaster is needed to learn the lessons of 2015.

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Why7 do I see a duplicate of Michelangelo’s “David” in Kansas’ near future?

  26. superdestroyer says:

    @Stonetools:

    The unemployment rate in Kansas is at 4%. How do progressives reconcile the low unemployment rate in Kansas versus the claims that it is an economic disaster. https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=unemployment%20rate%20kansas

  27. Hal_10000 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I didn’t say you did; was responding to Lovitar’s comment. Sorry if I gave that impression.

    @Loviatar:

    It took you 45 minutes to come up with a couple of college professors exercising their constitutional right to spout crap.

    Well, to be fair, I was spending 45 minutes wrestling one kid into the car for dance lessons and the other into a high chair for dinner and then spent ten seconds recalling the most memorable instances off the top of my head before bathtime. If I had a bit more time, I might have linked this poll, showing that half of Democrats support hate speech laws or mentioned the Market-Jeffries legislation.

    But sure, take any interval between my comments as an acquiescence.

  28. michael reynolds says:

    I do think the campus anti-speech movement is pernicious and becoming more of a problem. I’d dismiss them as silly college kids, but behind every left-wing attack on free speech there’s inevitably some idiot professor with a theory and a book.

    Suggesting that people avoid saying offensive things? OK. Shouting people down? Not OK.

  29. Hal_10000 says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Kansas already had a low unemployment rate. Their governor enacted an ill-advised massive tax cut in an effort to stimulate more jobs, which was literally impossible (4% unemployment is essentially full employment). I wouldn’t describe it as “economic chaos” the way Stonetools did but I would describe it as “idiotic” and “holy Moses, look at all that debt!”

    In another thread, I was slamming Keynesian theory. I have little truck with Lafferism either. The Kansas tax cut was never going to “pay for itself” — Kansas was *way* down the Laffer curve from the peak.

  30. Loviatar says:

    @Hal_10000:

    So once again you’ve got nothing.

    Last time it was two college professors this time its an online poll. You’re scraping.

    Show me the law passed by lefties criminalizing teaching.

  31. Loviatar says:

    @michael reynolds:

    When college professors have the right to tax and jail me then I’ll become worried.

  32. de stijl says:

    @Loviatar:

    College professors are the new Leviathan. You are already a serf to their pernicious power.

    It is known.

  33. al-Ameda says:

    Kansas, like Oklahoma, is all in on ‘stupid’ in education these days.

    Governor Sam Brownback, for all intent and purposes, tanked Kansas’ state fiscal health in order to cut taxes. The direction that Kansas is moving in, is precisely the same direction that most Republican-dominated states would generally prefer to move in too.

  34. @de stijl:

    College professors are the new Leviathan. You are already a serf to their pernicious power.

    I guess I haven’t gotten the memo yet…

  35. C. Clavin says:

    More small Gubmint Republicans oppressing people with the Gubmint.
    No wonder people are fleeing Kansas in droves.

  36. C. Clavin says:

    @de stijl:
    Between undergrad and graduate school I spent 7-1/2 years in colleges and university’s. Most of my professional work is for university’s.
    I have never once come upon a sea monster.

  37. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I guess I haven’t gotten the memo yet…

    You know nothing, Steven L. Taylor.

    @al-Ameda:

    Governor Sam Brownback, for all intent and purposes, tanked Kansas’ state fiscal health in order to cut taxes.

    Just so.

    @Loviatar:

    When college professors have the right to tax and jail me then I’ll become worried.

    Winter is coming.

    @superdestroyer:

    “Hodor, Hodor, HODOR!”

    (It truly does save a lot of time to replace ungainly blocks of superdestroyer text, where, every single time, he says the exact same thing over and over and over. How many times can you read about the coming One Democratic Party State until your eyes glaze over and you just see “Hodor.”

  38. de stijl says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I have never once come upon a sea monster.

    What is dead may never die

    But rises again, harder and stronger

    ; – )

    Okay, I’m now officially out of Game of Thrones memes.

    I do, however want to keep two of them alive. superdestroyer is, in fact, Hodor. Hodor can only say one thing and that thing is “Hodor.”

    Also, “You know nothing, Steven L. Taylor ” just cracks me up.

  39. @de stijl: So say we all.

  40. Stan says:

    Read Anti-Intellectualism in American Life and The Paranoid Style in American Politics, both by Richard Hofstadter. They’re as true now as when they were written, back in the mid 60’s. This stuff in Kansas is as American as cherry pie.

  41. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    You know nothing, Steven L. Taylor.

  42. JohnMcC says:

    For a significant number of committed Repub/RightWing people in (at least in my family) Nevada there is a strong resentment at being culturally marginalized. I’ve thought this is a hold-over from the ‘Sagebrush Rebellion’ and it shows up in the news once in a while (Cliven Bundy, a bomb at a US Forest Service office) but mostly you have to be a resident of the inter-mountain west to hear about it. The principal issue fueling the Nevadans is that the US Gov’t is the land owner for most of their state.

    I don’t know enough about Kansas to speak to their issues but the cultural resentment of being ‘flyover country’ and small-town-and-caucasian-America in a country becoming more and more characterized by metropolis sized cities and non-caucasian celebrities seems likely to me to be a part of Kansan’s loyalty to Repub policies; they aren’t good ideas in the sense that they make our lives better but by God they are OUR ideas and OUR guys.

    As an old fellow born & bred in Alabama, I recognize this. Bet Prof Taylor does also — see the adjacent Post regarding Judge Roy Moore and the Same Sex Marriage follies there.

  43. superdestroyer says:

    @Hal_10000:

    When Gov. Brownback started, the unemployment rate in Kansas was around 6%, check the link that I provided. However, what Brownback did not do is cut spending to match the tax cuts. It is the same problem that GW Bush had with his tax cut. It is politically much easier to cut taxes than to cut spending, thus Republicans trap themselves because they refuse to give up the pork barrel spending and the special privileges for their friends.

    Also, you are correct that Keynesian never works because politicians are incapable of cutting spending during the good times. Politicians always want to start new programs during the good times (especially during an election year) and thus bring in the Ratchet effect that make the next downturn harder to the state and local governments.

    In the end, the U.S. will not solve its cyclical economic problems until it finally decided to pay full retain for the government services the voters want and stop running deficits.

  44. superdestroyer says:

    For those interested in school book banning, I found this report for the 2013-2014 school year. http://www.ila.org/BannedBooks/ALA016%20Short%20List%20L3c_low%20%281%29.pdf

    Book controversies seem to spring up in both blue and red states and involve a large number of books. However, in looking at the list, it seems to follow the trend of making sure that males will never develop the habit of reading fiction for enjoyment.

  45. C. Clavin says:

    @superdestroyer:
    What are you talking about, Willis?
    Brownback has been slashing budgets everywhere. Including draconian cuts to education. Education is anathema to Republicans.
    Brown back is running the full Republican monty including social changes like abortion and making discrimination legal, etc….and it is proving for all to see that the Republican agenda is an abject failure.
    There’s a reason everyone is leaving Kansas.
    And there is a reason you are telling lies to try and excuse it.

  46. TheoNott says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Kansas may have a low unemployment rate, but it was starting from a rather low point also. Kansas has a lot of fairly recession-proof employment in industries such as agriculture, and there never was much of a housing bubble in Kansas, nor a financial industry, so the 2008 crash didn’t effect them so badly. But consider this- Kansas employment growth, in percentage terms, has been markedly inferior to all of it’s neighbors save Arkansas during the recovery. And since the enactment of Brownback’s 2012 “shot of adrenaline” tax cut, employment growth in Kansas has been below the national average. See here:

    http://bit.ly/1GeTZmc

  47. Tyrell says:

    I once heard a principal say that politics determines everything in a public school, from the selection of textbooks to the company that gets the crayon and paste contract. In some states the textbook selection committees are equal to any legislature committee in terms of power and influence.
    There should be a law that every legislator, state school board members, and school administrators must go into a real classroom and work for two weeks every year, doing everything that the regular teacher does.
    The term “principal” actually short for “principal teacher” because at one time long, long ago principals would also teach some. Now a days the job of principal is mainly a middle management job, with most principals having little or no classroom experience. At one time principals helped and supported teachers. Now most are just top down administrators. Once again, politics.
    All this “high stakes testing”: it ia all about money. Someone is getting rich off of all that. Common Core ? Same thing.

  48. An Interested Party says:

    Some kind of similar disaster is needed to learn the lessons of 2015.

    Much like another Gilded Age (already done) along with another Great Depression (close) are needed for people to learn the lessons of unions as well as government actions to help people, particularly the middle class…

  49. superdestroyer says:

    @C. Clavin:

    In looking at Brownback’s budget report cite (which is filled with horrible graphs), it looks like revenue was fine in FY 2012 and 2013 but fell apart in FY 2014. See the slide titled State General Fund Receipts however, on the next slide it noted that the Federal Adjusted Gross Income in Kansas for FY2014 went down due to changes in federal law. If you want to criticize the Brownback Administration it would be for not properly anticipating changes in federal law. However, if you look at state income tax revenue for FY2012 and FY2013, it would seem that spending had grown faster than historical trends would have indicated. That means that the state should have cut taxes if it sudden started receiving much larger tax receipt rather than starting new programs.

  50. wr says:

    @superdestroyer: Thank you for demonstrating you know as little about budgets as you do about anything else.

  51. superdestroyer says:

    @wr:

    Did you even look at the cite that was from the State of Kansas about their budget? If you look at the slide titled”State General Fund Receipts” you will see that the state’s receipts were $5.19 billion in 2010 and $6.4 billion in 2012. What should the Brownback Administration have done with the increased revenue due to an improving economy? If the state starts new programs, increases pay to state employees, or increases pensions to state employees (like other states), then it will have larger budget problems in the future (See everyone from Detroit to Illinois). However, is seems that the Repubicans cut the budget too fast and without contemplating the change in federal tax laws.

    From the presentation:

    Because of a change in the 2013 federal tax policy concerning capital gains, a
    majority of states saw an unanticipated drop in revenues in the following years.
    Federal Adjusted Gross Income is the starting point for determining Kansas
    taxes and does not factor in state tax policy.

    Are you arguing that the presentation did not really say that or are you saying that Brownback is lying?

  52. @Gustopher:

    Both rules come down to dehydration really. Inland states are dehydrated due to lack of access to water and former confederate states are dehydrated due to it being too hot.

  53. C. Clavin says:

    @superdestroyer:
    Keep trying to cover for the utter failure of Republucan economic policy.
    It entertains us almost as much as your abject racism.

  54. C. Clavin says:

    @superdestroyer:
    The only Republican who has been right about economics in the last 35 years was Bush 41 and y’all threw him under a bus.

  55. michael reynolds says:

    @C. Clavin:
    We’ve had two really major economic downturns in our modern history, the Great Depression and the Great Recession. Both times a Republican was in the White House. Both times we survived thanks to a Democrat.

  56. KM says:

    Supporters of the bill say it will further protect children at school from being subjected to images or curriculum that could have nudity or be considered pornographic.

    Stupid question but how in the hell do they plan to teach biology? I’m not even talking sex ed- I’m mean basic bio. No matter what, once you start talking about humans and anatomy, you’re going to have to break out a diagram that somebody with an axe to grind could consider to be “nearly nude”, even if it was a drawing! Does science class get a pass on this or are they just effed?

  57. Liberal With Attitude says:

    Economic theory becomes dangerous and destructive when it turns into folk wisdom, dogmatic axioms.
    Keynsianism was like that for a while, where many people just saw every problem as being solvable by some stimulus spending. But that’s in the past- Any form of stimulus now is scorned (except defense spending- funny that!).
    But now the folk wisdom is fiscal conservatism- you see it in superdestroyers posts, in comments from conservative commentators everywhere.
    “Government spends too much” is an article of faith, as is “taxes are too high”.
    How much is too much? Doesn’t matter. How high is too high? Doesn’t matter.
    What programs should be cut? All of them, Katie. But not defense. Or Medicare. or Social Security, Or the FAA, National Parks, Coast Guard, FEMA, or anything I am in contact with. But the Dept. of WastenFraud definitely could use a haircut.

    Brownback’s Kansas is the Double Santa Claus theory put in action- give both tax cuts and spending, cutting only the stuff that doesn’t have an effective lobby and letting future generations pick up the pieces.

    Balanced budgets are a wonderful idea- We had one once, under Bill Clinton. But Reagan proved deficits don’t matter, and Republicans have been pursuing that with vigor ever since.

  58. JohnMcC says:

    @michael reynolds: @Liberal With Attitude:

    Interesting but true historical fact: The last two ‘balanced’ budgets were both brought by Dem administrations. As noted, Clinton did it. What will blow the minds of so-called-conservatives is that the other was LBJ’s ’68-69 budget. In the midst of the VietNam War, he actually had a surtax on income taxes to pay for the conflict.

  59. Tony W says:

    @JohnMcC: Apparently, I am told, conservatives now have adopted a meme by which Clinton’s budget was not actually in balance (never mind in surplus) if you look at it using accrual accounting (like most businesses use) instead of a cash basis like the US Government has always done. Never mind the facts. Oh, also something incomprehensible about Social Security revenues

  60. JohnMcC says:

    @Tony W: Yeah, I’ve caught that fly ball once or twice before. There’s also some sleight of hand by which they make LBJ’s budget surplus go away.

    They are the people who told us haughtily that ‘words have meanings’.

  61. John D'Geek says:

    While the law does go overboard, I understand the incentive. I remember having to read 1984 in high school, and one particular chapter was … quite graphic.

    I suggest the “15 year-old girl” test: If I were to write the same text in an e-mail to a 15 year-old girl, would I get arrested? If the answer is “yes”, then it doesn’t belong in our schools. If the answer is “no”, then carry on.

  62. Hal_10000 says:

    Related story just came across my feed about Sheila Kearns, now convicted of four felony charges for showing a horror movie to a spanish class.

  63. wr says:

    @John D’Geek: “I suggest the “15 year-old girl” test: If I were to write the same text in an e-mail to a 15 year-old girl, would I get arrested? If the answer is “yes”, then it doesn’t belong in our schools. If the answer is “no”, then carry on.”

    And which 15 year old girl do we choose? I’ve taught 19 year-olds in central Missouri who were astonished that I was brave enough to drive the entire 75 miles to St. Lous by myself and to dare enter the scary big city… and I’ve met the 15 year old daughter of a colleague in West LA who’d just come back from three weeks teaching English in rural China, who was fluent in Chinese (because her parents adopted a Chinese baby when she was five and she decided she’d need to speak the language to communicte with her new sister), and who understood more about the world than just about anyone three times her age?

    How about we stop acting like our teenagers are fragile little angels who will be destroyed if they’re exposed to material that challenges them. I’m sorry you were so traumatized by 1984 — but that’s actually one of the things that makes it such a vital book. Would you have preferred to spend your entire education reading Dick and Jane so your little brain never had to work?

  64. John D'Geek says:

    @wr: Please reread what I wrote.

    I was talking about how the law treats a generic fifteen year old girl, not about how they should be treated. (That’s a different debate, which I apparently tend to agree with you on).

    See also “Consistency”.

  65. grumpy realist says:

    @TheoNott: Come to think of it, there’s not much in Kansas aside from fields and fields and fields,….

    I figure the Koch Brothers read up on the whole “Rotten Borough’ phenomenon in England and decided to try the same technique in the US. So they found some useful idiot (a.k.a. Brownback), loaded him up with supply-sider philosophy, and turned him loose as a WMD on the Kansas economy. Figuring, of course, that as the state slithers its way down to lowest common denominator status, most of the population will vacate. Then they’ll have pocket senators voting exactly as they want, ditto for the Kansas House reps.

    Koch Brothers, taking over the US, one state at a time.