February 7, 2013 in City, Idaho

Clark: Reading some heavy lifting might toughen kids up

By The Spokesman-Review
 
File photo

Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene.
(Full-size photo)

John Goedde can try to laugh it off all he wants. But his idea to make Idaho high schoolers read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” is a keeper.

I’ll go Goedde one better. Every high school kid in America should have to read this tome in a dark room by candlelight and then pass a test on it in order to graduate.

Who is John Goedde?

A Coeur d’Alene state senator and chairman of the Idaho Senate Education Committee, that’s who.

Goedde introduced his modest proposal on Tuesday in a bill that he said he won’t pursue. He claimed he brought it up to send a message to Idaho’s Board of Education, which recently repealed some rule regarding graduation requirements.

According to our news coverage, the senator likes “Atlas Shrugged” because “it made my son a Republican.”

So much for “Proud Parent of a Middle School Honor Student” being the weirdest bumper sticker.

But getting back to the book …

With themes like capitalism and individualism, “Atlas Shrugged” is a perennial favorite of libertarians, tea party loyalists and Glenn Beck.

The sheer girth of it has won a lot of fans within the doorstop industry, too.

It’s no mystery why the self-reliant are so mad about “Atlas Shrugged.”

You have to lift yourself up by your own bootstraps to even think about climbing this word mountain.

Years ago I made a foolhardy attempt to read “Atlas Shrugged.”

I wasn’t ready. Thank God I bailed out before my eyeballs permanently crossed.

Navigating an Ayn Rand novel is like driving to Nevada via New Jersey.

I’m not saying the book’s daunting, but the “Atlas Shrugged” Cliffs Notes alone run 800 pages.

Despite its enormity of Chris Christiesque proportion, the novel has provoked endless debate over Rand’s “objectivism” philosophy as well as the correct pronunciation of her first name.

Is it Ein?

Is it Ann?

Some scholars contend the author, in later years, checked into hotels under Little Annie Fanny.

But Goedde’s on the right track.

Forcible “Atlas Shrugging” is the perfect way to prepare today’s youth for the future.

See, what do the kids of today have to complain about?

My 3-D printer was delivered a week late?

My parents stuck me with a second-generation iPad?

My X-BFF is a tool?

One day these youngsters will have children of their own. I fear they won’t be able to fulfill one of the main obligations that come with cranky parenthood.

Ranting and raving about how rough you had it back when you were a kid, I mean.

Take growing up with my Old Man.

His favorite pastime was lecturing me about how he only had six peanut butter sandwiches to eat during the ENTIRE GREAT DEPRESSION!!!

Then the time came when I got to harangue my son and daughter about the misery I endured having to listen to my Old Man’s starvation stories.

A beautiful thing, the circle of life.

So you go, Senator Goedde.

Hold on to that crazy right-wing dream. If you prevail, Idaho’s adults of tomorrow will have something truly terrifying to pound into the skulls of their young.

Dad – “You don’t know how good you have it, son. Why, when I was your age I (sobbing) couldn’t get out of high school without having to read this, this damned book.”

Son – “ ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’?”

Dad – “No, you little pervert. I’m talking about ‘Atlas Shrugged.’ ”

Son – “Sounds awful.”

Dad – “Took me six years.”

Son – “To get through high school?”

Dad – “No, (more sobbing) the introduction.”

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 ordougc@spokesman.com.


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