April 6, 2014 in City

Doug Clark: We BOOBs say naughty novels don’t belong in high school hands

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Ban Overly Offensive Books, the right-minded organization that was founded in this space almost 20 years ago, would like to shout a hearty “Amen!” to the brave trustees of Idaho’s Meridian School District.

The trustees voted the other day to remove author Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” from an English supplemental reading list for high school sophomores.

We BOOBs couldn’t be happier.

Our organization has fought hard over the years to keep disturbing books like “Huck Finn” or the inappropriately named “Moby Dick” away from our impressionable youth.

Most of the time, people just wind up calling us nuts or laughing us out of the room.

It’s a real pleasure to be on the winning side of censorship for a change.

Even so, the vote was a terrifyingly close 2-1, and you know what that means?

Satan is alive and kicking in saintly southwest Idaho, that’s what.

“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” is a naughty book if ever there was one.

The novel’s narrator is a 14-year-old Native American with an attitude and a potty mouth.

The kid is constantly whining about being poor and how he’s picked on by, well, everyone.

Then he transfers to an all-white high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

The book contains a scatological expletive here and there and some irreverently frank talk about masturbation, sexual abuse, alcoholism, racism, and …

Excerpt:

“If there were a Professional Masturbators League, I’d get drafted number one and make millions of dollars.

“And maybe you’re thinking, ‘Well, you really shouldn’t be talking about masturbation in public.’

“Well, tough. I’m going to talk about it because EVERYBODY does it. And EVERYBODY likes it.

“And if God hadn’t wanted us to masturbate, then God wouldn’t have given us thumbs.”

Sorry for upsetting your Sunday brunch. But this book for young adults is just way too real for comfort.

Oh, yeah. It won a National Book Award, too.

That should tell you how far the country has slipped.

According to a news report, “a committee had recommended the book stay on the 10th-grade supplemental reading list, with students required to get parental permission to read it.”

Narrow minds prevailed over that logic despite an effort by Brady Kissel, a Mountain View High School student who collected 350 signatures to save the book.

Troublemaker.

“It is the very idea of our education being censored,” Kissel said during a public hearing that reportedly drew “more than 100” speakers who wanted the book banned.

And we would like to show our appreciation by making each and every one of those naysayers honorary BOOBs.

But that’s no cause to get cocky.

There is a grave potential for a literary backlash here.

Alexie’s novel is devilishly seductive enough already. All the frantic chatter about book banning could get the rebellious juices flowing in every kid in Idaho.

Before you can say “Holden Caulfield,” teenagers will be nose deep in Alexie’s literature instead of safely zoning out on YouTube and Twitter.

That could fill their heads with big ideas.

Grand ideas. Life-altering ideas.

Don’t let that happen.

Join BOOB today and just say “NO!” to naughty novels.

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


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