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Michel_Cayer
06-19-2015, 09:32 PM
I don't know if any of you have seen this. It is a book about how pressure groups have forced publishers to censor school books in the United States.

You can find a good article about it here: www.textbookleague.org/124ravbk.htm (http://www.textbookleague.org/124ravbk.htm)

I was appalled and very saddened by reading this. Hopefully nothing like this exists here in Canada but I will take a look.

I encourage everyone to look into it. Especially if you write for a younger audience. There might even be censored excerpts of your book, used without your permission in certain school books.

Dennis E. Taylor
06-19-2015, 09:58 PM
Double-plus ungood.

heza
06-19-2015, 10:07 PM
The panel had expelled a story about a blind man who allegedly had hiked to the top of Mount McKinley, because the story was offensive on two counts. First, it displayed "regional bias"; this meant that the story, because of its distinctive setting, could be understood more easily by a child who dwelt on a mountain than by a child who didn't.


"Regionalism" seems an unwieldy guideline. Is there a setting that won't be more familiar to one person than another? If the story is about an apartment, won't that be less familiar to children who live in houses? If the setting is a big city, won't that be less familiar to children who live in small towns? How do you ever completely account for regionalism?

calieber
06-19-2015, 10:49 PM
It also underestimates the reader. Would someone from one environment be completely at sea reading a book set in a different one?

Also, isn't one ostensible purpose of schooling to educate students? "This will have to be explained" is a terrible argument for taking/keeping something out of a school.

heza
06-19-2015, 10:56 PM
It also underestimates the reader. Would someone from one environment be completely at sea reading a book set in a different one?

Funny you should say that; "the sea" was also rejected as a region. :P


The panel had torpedoed a passage that dealt with dolphins, because dolphins live in the sea. The sea is another distinctive setting, so this story, too, was damned for "regional bias."

Michel_Cayer
06-19-2015, 11:30 PM
The book itself has a ton of other examples. The author says that some people have started to home school their children after seeing such bland school books. In some cases, even history is altered or presented in a way as to not offend anyone in any way possible.

Roxxsmom
06-19-2015, 11:51 PM
Sounds like another writer making a straw man out of the evil PC thought police again. Given all the problems teachers and educators are having these days, this seems like a pretty small one, sadly.

Ravioli
06-20-2015, 12:57 AM
Basically they're dumbing things down in a place supposed to make kids smarter? Okay.

Ken
06-20-2015, 02:29 AM
I have faith in our educators and officials. If they say this is how things should be done (and they do ultimately have the final say) then that is okay by me. They know better than me, at least, and are more informed. So I trust in them and have no doubt but that our youngsters are well served and in time will grow to be fine lads and lassies whom will make us proud !

MaryMumsy
06-20-2015, 02:39 AM
You forgot your sarcasm smiley, Ken. The book referenced in the link was published in 2004. This is nothing new. I have read that CA, TX, and FL combined influence the textbooks used throughout the country. Because those 3 are the largest customers, what they want is what gets published.

MM

TheNighSwan
06-20-2015, 04:59 AM
Yeah I think this is kinda seeing things through the wrong end of the telescope.

The truth is that in the US, pressure from private interest groups and lobbies has effectively replaced government censorship. This is neither recent nor limited to school books; the whole Code Hays thing was entirely a private affair: it was the big studios who decided together to ban certain themes, ideas and scenes from their films, which they could strictly enforce due to them not only having a quasi monopoly on the means to create and finance film, but also on the means to distribute them, since at the time the vast majority of theaters were owned by big studios. What broke the code was the fall of the studio system due to competition from telivision, leading to the development of an independent film network and thus the possibility to make films that could not be controlled by the studios -- since these films were working, the studios gave up on the code rather than risking losing money to competition. But at no point did the American government intervenned in this whole affair. It was, from beginning to end, a private affair, and yet it was a clear case of generalised censorship.

But it's a mistake to think the US have gone a long way since then; censorship just became less explicit, for various reasons (for one, if, like the code Hays, you explicitely dress a list of forbidden subjects, this can give people the idea to talk of controversial subjects they weren't even considering). But if you think that the reason there are so few US newspaper article criticals of, say, gun laws of israel foreign policy is because it reflects the consensus opinion of american journalists in general, you might want to read about how AIPAC or the NRA use their wealth and power to influence the content of the media.

Roxxsmom
06-20-2015, 05:31 AM
You forgot your sarcasm smiley, Ken. The book referenced in the link was published in 2004. This is nothing new. I have read that CA, TX, and FL combined influence the textbooks used throughout the country. Because those 3 are the largest customers, what they want is what gets published.

MM

A number of years ago, a major textbook company sought to expunge references to evolution from its biology texts. It was CA, by virtue of its share of the market, that put the brakes on this. And there was this issue (http://www.care2.com/causes/texas-boe-demotes-jefferson.html) too.

And there are some silver linings. This, for instance (http://www.tfn.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=7737).

Please don't blame CA (or liberals) for the dumbing down of textbooks in the US. The issue is far more complex than this. And there's a huge problem with programs like no child, and now the Common Core, that attempt to impose a one size fits all approach on education. Because, of course, students all have the same innate capabilities and interests and all learn in the same way. If students aren't interested in learning, of course, or are struggling in school, it's always because their teachers are bad, lazy horrible people who care only for their pensions and benefits :sarcasm

This is all an indication of a much larger issue--namely that society in general doesn't value education or knowledge beyond their utility. Even the people who claim to be advocates for better education (Obama comes to mind most recently) often talk about it as if its only function was to educate the workers of tomorrow, rather than creating informed, curious, engaged citizens who will continue to learn and grow and question for the rest of their lives.

The fact is, textbooks have always been pretty awful. I grew up thinking, for instance, that there were no women at all who did anything more interesting for our country during its founding than sew the US flag or exchange thoughtful letters with her husband while he was overseas.

We didn't learn about this gal (https://www.nwhm.org/online-exhibits/youngandbrave/ludington.html), or women like this one (http://userpages.aug.com/captbarb/femvets.html), or this one (http://www.theamericanview.com/catherine-moore-barry-heroine-of-cowpens/).

And let's not even talk about how Native Americans or black people were portrayed, or the Alamo, or any of a hundred other things that were either glossed over or misrepresented (they even told us that the Civil War wasn't about slavery back then and called it "the war between the states").

MaryMumsy
06-20-2015, 06:32 AM
At least it wasn't referred to as "the war of northern aggression" like it was where I lived in GA in the early 60s.

MM

T Robinson
06-20-2015, 06:48 AM
At least it wasn't referred to as "the war of northern aggression" like it was where I lived in GA in the early 60s.

MM

What, you mean it wasn't? My goodness.:sarcasm Did your text book include the Battle of Jenkin's Ear? I think the same Georgia history book was used for decades.

Jamesaritchie
06-20-2015, 07:56 PM
This is not censorship, it's just over-editing based on political correctness. Censorship is when the information is banned completely, by the government, and is actually made illegal. This has not happened.

It's still a serious problem. The trouble is that some editing needs to be done, some things need to be changed. This is simply fact. No one is perfect, and these educators do make mistakes in what they write, just as we all do. Like everything else, the problem comes when such editing is taken to extremes.

Now, I have no idea how anyone could look at our education system and think anyone at any level is doing a good job. Even when an individual teacher does an excellent job, chances are good the next teacher in line will be lousy, and screw up everything the previous teacher did. No ne wants to hear it, but we do have a lot of very bad teachers.

Running our education system out of Washington is not only dumb, it's completely unworkable. Nor is the national teacher's union doing anything to help, but a lot to harm.

We also have far, far too many bad parents, and this is probably the biggest problem of all, and the root cause for the failure of our education system.

I don't know what the solution is. Creating a generation of good parents will take a long time, even if the majority wants to do so, and they don't. They want no part of it.

I do know that political correctness isn't the answer to anything, ever. It's nothing more than a pervasive evil done in the name of understanding and kindness. It's complete bullshit done in the name of understanding and kindness, but it's there, it's real, and it's teaching children how to do and say and believe all the wrong things.

Ravioli
06-20-2015, 11:26 PM
I don't know what the solution is. Creating a generation of good parents will take a long time, even if the majority wants to do so, and they don't. They want no part of it.
The problem is that the bad parents think they're good parents by over-sheltering and moronizing their kids with this politically-correct shit. Over-sheltering parents, helicopter parents, and "You're being sarcastic??? THAT'S SO NASTY AND HATEFUL AND HURTFUL OMG YOU NEED JESUS!!!!!!!!!!" parents think their way is the very best. How is this world not perfect for more kids who are soft both on the outside, and in the head?

TheNighSwan
06-20-2015, 11:33 PM
Censorship is when the information is banned completely, by the government, and is actually made illegal.

Censorship is when someone is prevented by someone else to express their opinion. The claim that censorship can only come from the government is a sophism which Americans, of all people, should be more properly intellectually equiped to see through, seeing as their country has a rich history of extensive and successful censorship endavours originating entirely from private initiatives, from the Hays Code to the campaigns of harassment to get political or ideological enemies fired, uninvited from conferences or de facto banned from major newspapers.

Freedom of speech doesn't start and end with the first amendment.

"Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of […] a [democratic] society, one of the basic conditions for its progress and for the development of every man. […] it is applicable not only to "information" or "ideas" that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population. Such are the demands of that pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no "democratic society"."

That's a ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in 1976 (Handyside v United Kingdom).



Of course I've now talked with people about freedom of speech and censorship long enough that I understand where the real source of disagreement is and why we can't understand each other even though we use the same words.

Here's my conclusion: the vast majority of people love censorship, they just hate the word "censorship".

People love it when hate-speech is severely punished either by the government or socially, when immoral or pornographic books are banned or burned by viligantes, when whistleblowers get a life sentence for high treason, when people who express opinions unpalatable to a given demographic or interest group get fired from their job or banned from most public events following vile harrasment and doxing campaigns, when small family businesses are forced to closed down and their owners receive death threats because they expressed ideas contra the current political trend. As long as they're on the good side of the flamethrower, really I've met very, very few people who don't effectively support the tools of censorship.

But they hate the word "censorship", because "censorship" is bad and illiberal and it's what fascists and europeans do [French people, in turn, are absolutely convinced that France is THE country of freedom of speech, absolutely free of any kind of censorship (when French law, in theory, allows pretty much the censoring of just about anything —what is censored and what is not in practice depends on the whims of the power and intelligencia of the moment)].


So people find really convoluted ways to redefine meanings so that they can effectively support censorship without having to say "I support censorship", which nobody wants to do because that sounds bad. The classic is redifining freedom of speech as "the freedom to say everything except obviously wrong, controversial, hateful or dangerous ideas" (in this case Staline was the greatest libertarian who ever lived), or redefining censorship as only happening when the government is doing it (yeah, and state terrorim doesn't exist either, and waterboarding is not torture) — here's an amusing thing: although censorship in France is part of the law, the vast majority of the speech lawsuits originate from private individuals and groups, who also exist in the US — they just have more legal tool to exert their pressures in France. Here's another amusing thing: first amendment or not, the US still has libel laws; if someone brings a good enough legal case that you insulted them, you can still be legally and officially censored in the US.


Me, I like honnesty, I like frankness, I like candidness. I'd like all the people who think it's a good thing when their enemy's speech is curtailed in any fashion to come out of the wood and say "I support censorship". But I can dream.

Ravioli
06-20-2015, 11:56 PM
Hate speech should always be exempt from freedom of expression. Hate speech has gotten and continues to get people killed by the millions. 11 million people didn't gas themselves, and their gassers didn't come up with that idea. They listened to one too many hate speech. "Potentially offending" and "doing evident harm" are 2 different things.

TheNighSwan
06-21-2015, 05:50 AM
Hate speech should always be exempt from freedom of expression. Hate speech has gotten and continues to get people killed by the millions. 11 million people didn't gas themselves, and their gassers didn't come up with that idea. They listened to one too many hate speech. "Potentially offending" and "doing evident harm" are 2 different things.

I have never seen any evidence that writing "kill that bastard" has ever caused a murder. That is, that a reasonable individual suddenly decided to do a carnage after reading the sentence, that he wouldn't have find another excuse for anyway. Most Germans didn't read Mein Kampf, and Mein Kampf doesn't mention any project of mass extermination of the Jewish people.

But this is tangential. If you support exceptions to freedom of speech, then you support censorship. That's not complicated or controversial, that's what the words mean.

Ravioli
06-21-2015, 12:37 PM
I have never seen any evidence that writing "kill that bastard" has ever caused a murder. That is, that a reasonable individual suddenly decided to do a carnage after reading the sentence, that he wouldn't have find another excuse for anyway. Most Germans didn't read Mein Kampf, and Mein Kampf doesn't mention any project of mass extermination of the Jewish people.

But this is tangential. If you support exceptions to freedom of speech, then you support censorship. That's not complicated or controversial, that's what the words mean.
Every single propaganda poster or rat movie is hate speech. It's not one specific work or instance that kills people, no. But hate-filled, inciting communication was what set it all loose, not some latent desire to kill.

TheNighSwan
06-21-2015, 06:38 PM
Ok but so, do you admit that your position amounts to "I support censorship"?

This is what I care about here. You may well believe hate speech causes murder (in the absence of serious evidence, I disagree, but let's leave that), and that it should be exempted from freedom of speech. If you admit that this amounts to a support of censorship, if you say clearly "I support censorship in those cases", "evidently not all censorship is bad, it's just a tool to be put in the right hands", then I have no problem with your position.

I disagree with it, but I recognize it as a consistent and legitimate position to hold (as long as your position applies consistently to all hate speech, not just "hate speech coming from the priviledged groups" or "hate speech targetting historically persecuted groups").

But otherwise, if you deny that this is censorship, you're trying to have your cake and eat it too: you're trying to have the tools of speech removal directed against a kind of speech you don't like (the very definition of censorship) while still also trying to enjoy the prestige associated with calling yourself a defensor of freedom of speech and an opponent to censorship.