According to CNN, Connie Heermann an Indiana teacher was suspended from her job for teaching her class, “The Freedom Writers Diary”. It is an anthology of stories written by inner city kids under the tutelage of English teacher Erin Gruwell. The kids tell their story in their own words, and most of the student authors went on too college. According to the school board it is the language in the book that caused this to be such a contentious issue. Apparently not only are Carlins 7 little words to hot for the airwaves, they are too controversial for school.
As I watched the video clip on the story I could not help but be struck by the fact that only one person on the school board appeared to be of colour and furthermore, those in attendance where also overwhelmingly white. Is this really all about language? Of the 150 permission slips that were sent out regarding the book, 149 parents gave assent for their children to read this book. Obscenity is commonly judged by community standards, and it would seem that those affected by the exposure to “The Freedom Writers Diary“, were not upset.
Let’s be honest for just one minute. No child reaching high school has not heard words like shit, fuck or even motherfucker. Are these words that we would like our children to use as a part of their daily language..of course not. Are children irreparably damaged by hearing or reading such language…no. Daily in classrooms across North America Shakespeare is taught and very seldom is their complaint about the violence, misogyny and racism in his plays, and yet the true life story of under privileged youth is deemed too obscene for the classroom.
Despite the approval of the parents it was decided that the content would do more harm than good. Really??? The story of underprivileged youth struggling in neighbourhoods filled with gang violence, and poverty who somehow managed to rise above and go to college is harmful? HUH? This is a true lost in translation moment here folks. Nope, kids should not learn to emphasize with the struggles of others that don’t look exactly like them. Nope, kids should not learn that even in the worst conditions it is possible to rise above. Children should also most certainly not learn exactly how ugly poverty, and gang violence are. We would not want them to be shocked into not feeling alone in this world, or caring about the larger social issues that effect this planet. We want another generation of self absorbed twits devoted to consumerism, capitalism and the american way, despite the social injustice that this causes. Clearly the way forward is to further isolate ourselves from each other because nothing can be gained by a little social cohesion…NOOO then we might get ideas that involve communal values. We might begin to actually care about each other, and we all know that community and the pursuit of money do not blend well in the melting pot, where everyone’s voice is supposedly equal. It’s not censorship, or silencing, oh no its protecting the innocent.