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If they can't find a book that uses clean words, they shouldn't have a book at all.
October 2, 2006 3:33 PM   Subscribe


 
Wow, The Onion redesigned.

This link is to The Onion, isn't it?
posted by mkhall at 3:37 PM on October 2, 2006


Anyone else's hoaxometer beeping?
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:37 PM on October 2, 2006


Mine isn't, this just seems like regular news to me. Which is to say it's no news at all.
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:43 PM on October 2, 2006


Incidentally, a textbook example of irony would be, say "Courage the Cowardly Dog." In textbooks, irony is "the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning."
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:45 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


"The book had a bunch of very bad language in it," Diana Verm said. "It shouldn't be in there because it's offending people. ... If they can't find a book that uses clean words, they shouldn't have a book at all."

I don't believe for a second that this is a real quote.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:45 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


"The book had a bunch of very bad language in it," Diana Verm said. "It shouldn't be in there because it's offending people..."

Like so many who wish to push their views on others, they get their own opinion confused with that of people in general.
posted by obvious at 3:46 PM on October 2, 2006


Astro Zombie writes "Anyone else's hoaxometer beeping?"

Are you saying the story's just a phony?
posted by clevershark at 3:47 PM on October 2, 2006


This is an old story. These people aren't the first to try to ban Fahrenheit 451 and they won't be the last. In fact, I think the edition I read had Bradbury bitching about this in the introduction.
posted by SBMike at 3:48 PM on October 2, 2006


Sort of like Muslims blowing up stuff to protest the suggestion that Islam is a religion of violence.

"Islam is not violent! Death to you!"
posted by four panels at 3:49 PM on October 2, 2006


Or pro-lifers murderin' people.... Oh sure, it's irony; but it's a real base sort.
posted by keswick at 3:51 PM on October 2, 2006


I wonder if little Diana Verm has ever read the 88th most challenged book of the 90s:Where's Waldo (NSFW? Cartoon boob).
posted by daninnj at 3:52 PM on October 2, 2006




Hmm...

"Ella Minnow Pea is the first political satire of the 21st century, and, appropriately, it's a kinder, gentler satire. (...) Dunn has produced something between a crossword puzzle and a witty political allegory. (...) There's the whiff of a classic about Ella Minnow Pea. It's lighter than those high-school standards 1984 or Brave New World, but even when only LMNOP remain, it's touched by sweetness." - Ron Charles, Christian Science Monitor
posted by delmoi at 3:57 PM on October 2, 2006


Just think how many home-schooled kids have this book and others like it "pulled from the shelves" by their parents, with nary a community newspaper article or Language Arts teacher's finger wag to be found.
posted by deadfather at 3:58 PM on October 2, 2006


I don't believe for a second that this is a real quote.

I'm guessing you haven't spent much time in communities with large numbers of very religious people in, say, the last decade or so? I spend time with people who would say exactly things like that, and who have, in fact, said nearly exactly that to me on occasion.

The particular stripe of religiosity that makes up the bulk of our latest "Great Awakening" is in my experience an especially dumb, naive, and childish one. It makes people think things like the whole world should be G-rated or that teenagers aren't old enough to deal with naughty words.
posted by LooseFilter at 4:00 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


Conroe isn't Houston. It is a backasswards town north of Houston. This doesn't surprise me.
posted by birdherder at 4:04 PM on October 2, 2006


"It was a pleasure to burn."
posted by jaronson at 4:06 PM on October 2, 2006


First they came for my mylar cover coffee table-size book Sex by Madonna and I said nothing...
posted by hal9k at 4:17 PM on October 2, 2006


Finished reading this book a couple of weeks back. Not bad, but not as good as other distopian classics the sleeve-notes purport that it stands up against.

I'd love to believe that this is a hoax, but I'm really concerned that it isn't. It's a shame that people spend their every waking moment on trying to impress a higher power instead of getting a fucking grip because, when they die, there's a slim chance that a better place might exist. Sweet Ford above, live a little; read, educate yourself; expand your knowledge. If you believe there's a God, don't you think you owe it to him/her/it to use your God-given brain to think for yourself? You know: think, really, really hard on something other than what you're going to whittle tonight.

This sums the situation up perfectly: "'It's just all kinds of filth,' said Alton Verm, adding that he had not read "Fahrenheit 451."

It's the asinine leading the fuckwads and we're all doomed.
posted by TheDonF at 4:17 PM on October 2, 2006


"It's just all kinds of filth," said Alton Verm, adding that he had not read "Fahrenheit 451."

RTFA. Context is important, Mr. Verm.
posted by anarcation at 4:20 PM on October 2, 2006


I'm a little disappointed that Grand Parkway Church hasn't organized a book burning yet. Those guys are really falling down on the job.
posted by Opposite George at 4:20 PM on October 2, 2006


You know: think, really, really hard on something other than what you're going to whittle tonight.

Now, that is damn funny.
posted by brain_drain at 4:22 PM on October 2, 2006


Gah, TheDonF beat me to the point...
posted by anarcation at 4:22 PM on October 2, 2006


Twinkle twinkle little flame,
How I wonder why you blame
Ideas instead of actions dire?
And what worlds burn within your fire?
What futures now will never pass
That ignorance reduce to ash?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:31 PM on October 2, 2006 [6 favorites]


Or pro-lifers murderin' people.... Oh sure, it's irony; but it's a real base sort

Kudos to Keswick, harboring the spirit of Mr. Hicks.
posted by gcbv at 4:32 PM on October 2, 2006


I like the fact that school administrators think that a goofy book about some town council telling people not to use certain letters is the equivalent of an oppressive totalitarian regime destroying peoples books and killing them shows me that they have no sense of proportion.
posted by Megafly at 4:33 PM on October 2, 2006


"We went them to go after God," said Glen Jalowy Jr., Grand Parkway Church youth minister. "We encourage them that what you put in your mind and heart is what comes out."

Even assuming that the 'went' in this quote is a typo, this statement is still like something out of a Mark Twain depiction of a back-of-beyond revival meeting in the first half of the 19th century. Somehow, this disturbed me more than the article itself.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:51 PM on October 2, 2006


Alton Verm said he doesn't understand how the district can punish students for using bad language, yet require them to read a book with bad language as part of a class.

Another puzzling thing is that they talk about nazism in history class, and yet it's not ok for students to kill Jews or invade Poland.
posted by martinrebas at 4:53 PM on October 2, 2006 [16 favorites]


Oh yeah, this is real. I live in an area like this. The teachers, a fair number of whom are themselves fundamentalists, do so much self-censorship that formal censorship is unnecessary most of the time. When my wife ( a non-fundy teacher) used Fahrenheit 451 in her classroom, the few teachers in her building who knew what the book was were shocked. But I will say that she did not get any complaints from parents.
posted by LarryC at 4:57 PM on October 2, 2006


RTFA. Context is important, Mr. Verm.

Read the fucking... help me out here. "Book" starts with a B.
posted by black bile at 4:58 PM on October 2, 2006


martinrebas, you made me spit on my screen from the perfection of your comment. I mean, it's like Godwin turned on his head, like Marx did to Hegel.
posted by imperium at 4:59 PM on October 2, 2006


i agree, they shouldn't have a book at all.
posted by amethysts at 5:03 PM on October 2, 2006


The most bizarre thing here is that Mr. Verm is citing his religious beliefs as his reason for wanting Fahrenheit 451 banned. Of course, if he had read the book he would have known that Guy Montag, the protagonist, committed the Bible to memory, in order to preserve it in an oral form.

Apparently, this isn't ironic by the dictionary definition, as has been so snarkily pointed out upthread. It's tough, though, to find a better example of the common definition of irony, though.
posted by deadmessenger at 5:07 PM on October 2, 2006


I know it would be childish and unproductive, but I really want to send a profanity-laced screed to these people. Childish and unproductive, sure, but also likely cathartic.
posted by PhatLobley at 5:08 PM on October 2, 2006


I've lived in Conroe. While there, I had a job offer revoked when the employer found out I belonged to a Christian church which he didn't believe to be the "true" church. He assured me that he "wasn't doing anything illegal", either. I also was told that the apartment I was preparing to rent had suddenly become unavailable when the manager found out that my wife was black (I am white). I could go on. The story and quotes ring true to me, and while the area is beautiful, I don't miss it.
posted by wKen at 5:08 PM on October 2, 2006


Another puzzling thing is that they talk about nazism in history class, and yet it's not ok for students to kill Jews or invade Poland.
posted by martinrebas at 6:53 PM CST on October 2 [+] [!]


I am overcome with jealousy that I didn't think of that.
posted by Ynoxas at 5:16 PM on October 2, 2006


black bile
Read the fucking... help me out here. "Book" starts with a B.


Read the Fucking Article :D
posted by p3on at 5:29 PM on October 2, 2006


"We encourage them that what you put in your mind and heart is what comes out."

Compare with "It is not what goes into a man that defiles, but what comes from within," attributed to some early Christian coolie, some theologian or something, probably not important.

Retch.
posted by anotherbrick at 5:30 PM on October 2, 2006


Read the Fucking Article :D

But that's my point. Either he's telling the guy in the article to read the article he's in (whoa, dude, that's trippy in like a Charlie Kaufman kind of way), or he meant that Mr. Verm should read the fucking book Fahrenheit 451. Now, which do you think he meant? Stand with me, my brothers and sisters, against the misuse of initialisms and acronyms!
posted by black bile at 5:35 PM on October 2, 2006


Of course, if he had read the book he would have known that Guy Montag, the protagonist, committed the Bible to memory, in order to preserve it in an oral form.

What makes you think that Alton Verm follows the Bible? The Bible contains violence, drunkenness, dirty talk, and people taking God's name in vain, so presumably the Bible goes against their religion's beliefs. Perhaps he already got it banned from the area.
posted by martinrebas at 5:43 PM on October 2, 2006


...a textbook example of irony...

Well done, joannemerriam, well done.
posted by googly at 5:44 PM on October 2, 2006


I'll admit I was disappointed that someone wasn't orgainizing a book burning. This isn't really news, some yokel is always trying to get a book banned for some stupid reason. Let that guy's daughter read the crap book instead if she's so offended. It's not like they listened or anything. But if there was a book burning, oh man, "They do WHAT in this dirty book?" *lightbulb*
posted by crashlanding at 5:48 PM on October 2, 2006


Just look at King David, screwing around with another man's wife and then sending the guy off to be killed on the battlefield... or Saul before him, engaging in witchcraft and laying whole villages to the sword at God's very behest. Or the Song of Solomon, with all its unwholesome talk about lips and breasts... surely one has to see the Bible as smutty and not something you'd want your children to read!
posted by clevershark at 5:50 PM on October 2, 2006


I am waiting for someone to complain that 1984 aids those who hate freedom.
posted by UseyurBrain at 5:57 PM on October 2, 2006


Or the Song of Solomon, with all its unwholesome talk about lips and breasts...

And in them days, breasts looked like grapes (VII, 7-8).
posted by jack_mo at 6:16 PM on October 2, 2006


It is a textbook example of irony -- it's called dramatic or tragic irony:

Irony is a form of utterance that postulates a double audience, consisting of one party that hearing shall hear and shall not understand, and another party that, when more is meant than meets the ear, is aware, both of that “more” and of the outsider’s incomprehension.

So saith Mr H. Fowler.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:16 PM on October 2, 2006


Also in Texas...
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:25 PM on October 2, 2006


Negative Space

There is a prison in my head
Whose walls are bricked with books unread,
Whose bars are set in cold cliches,
Whose chains are forged from wasted days
Ans tender things unsaid.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:43 PM on October 2, 2006 [3 favorites]


"Ans." Crap. Please burn the word "Ans." Replace with the safer word "And." Thank you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:46 PM on October 2, 2006


Hey ...Florence... where is that from? It's great.
posted by The Deej at 7:18 PM on October 2, 2006


Also in Texas...
The other side for you, thirteenkiller. (Scroll down a little to see the principal's response.)
posted by forrest at 7:22 PM on October 2, 2006


glad to know that my local high school is well represented....
posted by aggienfo at 7:42 PM on October 2, 2006


jack_mo writes "And in them days, breasts looked like grapes (VII, 7-8)."

I thought they looked like twin roes that feed upon the lilies!
posted by clevershark at 8:04 PM on October 2, 2006


Thanks, The Deej. It's from here.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:38 PM on October 2, 2006


I grew up in East Texas. It is a weird backwater of the South and for a native, this is no surprise. And thanks, birdherder, for pointing out how Houston is definitely not where this story's from.
posted by rleamon at 8:58 PM on October 2, 2006


I cannot fucking believe that no one has linked to Bradbury's essay on the numerous attempts to censor Fahrenheit 451:
For it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangutan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-conversationalist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics. The real world is the playing ground for each and every group, to make or unmake laws. But the tip of the nose of my book or stories or poems is where their rights and my territorial imperatives begin, run and rule. If Mormons do not like my plays, let them write their own. If the Irish hate my Dublin stories, let them rent typewriters. If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mushmild teeth, let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture. If the Chicano intellectuals wish to re-cut my "Wonderful Ice Cream Suit" so it shapes "Zoot," may the belt unravel and the pants fall.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 9:43 PM on October 2, 2006


imperium, the notion is that Marx found Hegel standing on his head. (let's have a pretense-off).
posted by Firas at 10:56 PM on October 2, 2006


Hang on, Hicks is mentioned in a thread about books and no one mentions the waffle waitress comment? It's in this Salon article which, interestingly, contains a link to an article on Ray Bradbury.
posted by TheDonF at 11:07 PM on October 2, 2006


What I found to be ironic about the article (and what made me initially think it was a re-direct from The Onion or something) was the picture of Berm and his daughter, where they're posing with the book. Did that strike anyone else as just, well, bizarre? I enjoy surreal as much as the next guy, but I like to keep it in the confines plays, books, movies, my head, etc. This kind of thing out in the living, breathing world doesn't help me sleep better at night.

If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mushmild teeth, let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture.

That pretty much kicks ass.
posted by Brak at 11:17 PM on October 2, 2006


From my vantage point here in sinful LA, I get the unpleasant feeling that the attitudes of Mr. Verm and his progeny are representative of the majority of USians these days. And in the US, the majority rules.

Also, the writing in that first link is just awful.
posted by oncogenesis at 12:57 AM on October 3, 2006


58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school
42% of college graduates never read another book
57% of new books are not read to completion

These folks just want their kids to get an early start.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 1:51 AM on October 3, 2006


Interesting stats, Enron - have you got the source of those, I'd like to find out more.
posted by TheDonF at 3:52 AM on October 3, 2006


I also wonder whether the article is a hoax, but "Alton Berm" (he exists!) and Caney Creek High School and Grand Parkway Church at least all googlemap properly. Christ.

Interesting stats, Enron - have you got the source of those, I'd like to find out more.

It looks like those stats came from here:
One-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives. Many do not even graduate from high school.

58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school.

42% of college graduates never read another book.

80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.

70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.

57% of new books are not read to completion.
and are attributed to Jerrold R. Jenkins of the Jenkins Group. If they're true, then yikes, but I suspect the numbers are off. Most Americans have not been in a book store in the past five years? How can anyone go five years without walking into a book store? Four out of five entire families didn't read a book all year? There's no way Americans are that awful. Is there? Someone press the reset button on the US. It's that little round recessed button on the back of the White House. You might need a pen... oh, wait, don't tell me. You don't write anymore, either? OK, try a car key or something. Roach clip? Nipple clamp?
posted by pracowity at 4:53 AM on October 3, 2006


He looked through the book and found the following things wrong with the book: discussion of being drunk, smoking cigarettes, violence, "dirty talk," references to the Bible...

Yes yes, wouldn't want people to actually look at a Bible. That would simply be shameful.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 6:50 AM on October 3, 2006


I dimly recall a forward or afterward of F451 (although I suppose it could've been Animal Farm or A Brave New World; I read them all in jr high) wherein the author discusses how that very book had been slowly changed by the publisher to remove swear-words, etc. It's not the essay IshmaelGraves linked to.

Oh yeah, ok: One particularly ironic circumstance is that, unbeknownst to Bradbury, his publisher released a censored edition in 1967 that eliminated the words "damn" and "hell" for distribution to schools. Later editions with all words restored include a "Coda" from the author describing this event and further thoughts on censorship and "well-meaning" revisionism.

It was when I brought this up in class that I realized no one else, not even the teacher, read the forwards or afterwards of the assigned books...

Anyway, we read this in Conservative Indiana and I don't think there was any grumbling. Honestly? I wouldn't be surprised if there was a complaint about it there today.
posted by sohcahtoa at 7:01 AM on October 3, 2006


57% of new books are not read to completion.

Yeah, but Sturgeons law being what it is, that still means we are finishing all the good books and about 1/3 of the really back, "trees died for this?" books.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:42 AM on October 3, 2006


Er, really bad.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:42 AM on October 3, 2006


It was when I brought this up in class that I realized no one else, not even the teacher, read the forwards or afterwards of the assigned books...

To be fair, most fore and aft sections are complete crap, imho. After reading a few fores that contain spoilers, I've sworn them off until after the book, if ever.
posted by unixrat at 7:48 AM on October 3, 2006


I emailed the author of the story to see if this was in fact a joke, I was sure it wasn't but just couldn’t wrap my head around the whole thing. Anyway, the author wrote back and requested I write a letter to the editor. I figured I would pass along the note; maybe MeFi can collectively convert a few souls down that way.

---

Thank you for your input. This story seems to be bringing in a lot of comments. I welcomes you to write a letter to the editor on your opinions to be published in The Courier. You can send the letter to letters@hcnonline.com.



Thank you for your time,



Kassia Micek
Reporter-The Courier
100 Ave. A
Conroe, TX 77301
kmicek@hcnonline.com
(936) 442-3420
(936) 756-6729 fax
www.thecourier-online.com
posted by paxton at 7:54 AM on October 3, 2006


The more I see people attempt to ban a book (whether a hoax or not) the more I want to read it, and pass it on to others.

Hello - free speech? Freedom to make your own decision? Isn't that why we have such an influx of immigrants trying to squeeze into the US?

A short rant on a Tuesday, thanks for listening.....
posted by FilmJulie at 8:02 AM on October 3, 2006


unixrat: I don't disagree and rarely read them ... at least not in my first go at a book ... these days.

In Jr High though ... let's just say I'd read my history, literature, and science books cover-to-cover in the period between when we got them over the summer and the first day of school.

Yeah, there was something wrong with me.
posted by sohcahtoa at 8:36 AM on October 3, 2006


One-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives. Many do not even graduate from high school.

Wait...

Many high school graduates... never graduate?
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:03 AM on October 3, 2006


People. It's foreword, not forward.
posted by spacewaitress at 9:33 AM on October 3, 2006


In fact, I think the edition I read had Bradbury bitching about this in the introduction.

My edition included Bradbury discussing the fact that one high school used the abridged version of the book.

I can't help but feel that story is a hoax... the quotes were just too obtuse, the logic too circular. Even for a story about fundies banning books (and I've read a lot of those), it's over the top.
posted by Saellys at 10:00 AM on October 3, 2006


I welcomes you to write a letter to the editor on your opinions to be published in The Courier.

Seriously?
posted by EarBucket at 10:10 AM on October 3, 2006


I hope it's a hoax, but even if it is, the sad thing is that it's a quite believable one.

Sometimes I get so fed up with the cost of living in the Bay Area that I think, "You know, I should just move back to Texas, where I have family & some old friends and it's easier to make ends meet." Every once in awhile, I need an article like this to slap some sense into me.

(Sorry, Texas, I love parts of you. But I'm staying put for now).
posted by treepour at 11:17 AM on October 3, 2006


Maybe it's a hoax with a purpose: Perhaps Alton Verm is a mastermind of subtle manipulation of the press. He is railing against the oppression of our current cultural climate by drawing attention to a classic story of rebellion.

Could it be that he is allowing himself to be martyred to bring greater exposure to an old tale, who's themes seem more prescient with each passing moment?

Because if not, Verm is an idiot of the highest order.
posted by quin at 12:57 PM on October 3, 2006


I welcomes you to write a letter to the editor on your opinions to be published in The Courier.

Seriously?


Yes. An increasing proportion of print journalists, both reporters and editors, are incompetent users of the English language. I'd say the visible slide began five or six years ago.

On that token, here's a tip for writing letters to editors: Write three versions: 300 words, 200 words, and 100 words. Send them all.

Some editors have never contemplated forms of text beyond the newspaper-standard inverted pyramid, and wouldn't know a well structured bit of rhetoric if it bit them in the eyeball. You may well write a beautiful mini-essay in 300 words, with your point graciously introduced, accurately articulated, and cogently applied. But these editors, citing space constraints, will edit that letter as though it were an inverted-pyramid report, and therefore will print your entire introduction and one third of your main articulation, omit an important qualification from your main point (quite likely making you flamebait for morons whose rebuttals will print next week), and entirely drop your memorable closing summary.

In truth, you need and deserve all 300 words. If a topic is even mildly complex and has been even moderately well covered already, no meaningful letter is likely to require less. But the SOBs probably won't give it to you; insight does not increase circulation as incendiary screeds from the local ideologues do. (They will also print banal and ill-argued complaints that were written and submitted on assignment for freshman Creative Writing classes. I am uncertain what purpose this serves, but they do it.) So they will cut your letter.

You cannot prevent the loss of essentials by submitting 200- and 100-word versions. But you may dissuade the loss of the most vital material—invite them to amputate both legs mid-thigh, rather than take one whole leg and a third of the abdomen. Most likely, they will reflexively reach for the 100-word version. But I like to imagine that, if it's good, it might just tempt them to read the 200-word version, notice how much better it is, and fudge some space for it.

Good luck, letter-writers.

Heck with it. After I get rich, I'm starting a newspaper where letters to the editor may not be shorter than 300 words. (Note to snarks: This does not preclude an upper length limit, nor does it prevent tossing a 300-word letter that nonetheless sucks. Or maybe we'll print it but mock it mercilessly, which I confess would be more fun.) If you try to pass off as thoughtful any letter with less meaningful content than that, we blacklist you. And spam you with well-crafted thousand-word essays. And hire local 14-year-olds to give you a wedgie. (It's a misdemeanor, but the record will be sealed when they turn 18 ... no harm done.)
posted by eritain at 11:54 PM on October 3, 2006


"And no Spider, I don't want the word fuck 1000 times."
posted by khaibit at 9:28 AM on October 4, 2006


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