Textbook Publishers Learn to Avoid Messing With Texas.
June 30, 2002 2:54 PM   Subscribe

Textbook Publishers Learn to Avoid Messing With Texas. "Out of Many," the work of four respected historians, is one of the biggest sellers among American history college textbooks in the United States, but it is not likely to be available to Texas high school students taking advanced placement history. Conservative groups in Texas objected to two paragraphs in the nearly 1,000-page text that explained that prostitution was rampant in cattle towns during the late 19th century, before the West was fully settled.
posted by ncurley (24 comments total)
"The book says that there were 50,000 prostitutes west of the Mississippi. I doubt it, but even if there were, is that something that should be emphasized? Is that an important historical fact?"

No, it's not important at all. Let's just pretend that there was no prostitution in the Wild West at all. Those saloon girls? Dancers. Only dancers. And on those long, cold nights when the gold miners would gather for a drink and a game of poker, they would all end the same. Big, burly miners, slow dancing with each other as the player piano plinked out the melody to "Dixie Blossoms". Then, fellatio.

You know Grace Shore, the Republican chairwoman of the Texas State Board of Education would just love that version of Texas history.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:25 PM on June 30, 2002

What is the value of a nationally used history book that everybody is required to have, but teachers ignore and students disdain? And yet, just that has been the case for 30 years! Why? Because history is by far the most controversial subject taught in school.
So what do you do? Teachers will be fired if they "agitate" students, parents, their peers and their administration by discussing "controversial" or "forbidden" topics; and yet the textbooks are so pathetically watered down as to be worse than nothing.
You can either educate, or placate. You cannot do both.

Eventually, only private schools will be capable of teaching history--perhaps as "pay" summer school sub-contractors.
Public schools are just too inherently vulnerable to hypersensitive complainers and local predjudices.
posted by kablam at 4:13 PM on June 30, 2002

All this controversy over prostitution! You'd think they were discussing evolution or something. Hmm.
posted by ChrisTN at 4:38 PM on June 30, 2002

The reason prostitution is illegal is women who are in power or wives of the powerfull dont want it legal. The Womens Lib movement decided not to support prostitution because the housewives of America, the constituents of the womens liberation political body, would never go for it for obvious reasons. Men love a cat fight. Writing it out of the history books is really impressive.
posted by stbalbach at 4:52 PM on June 30, 2002

Or maybe the economic reason is that the advocates of free, no govt regulation market would love to have prostitution legalized because it makes economic sense, TONS OF. But unfortunately their lovely wifes do not agree at all "shuddup u crazy theorist or supply and demand curves will be the only boobie shaped things you'll have sex with".
posted by elpapacito at 5:32 PM on June 30, 2002

I don't know that it's all such a bad thing. Smart kids realise, after a few years of reading this pap, that the official versions of history are always a pack of lies.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:45 PM on June 30, 2002

Year 2200: "In the year 2002 there was a place of perversion called MetaFilter in which people wrote about their sexual inclinations and adorned this talking with silly comments about different events. While the US govt was busy with the war against Integralistic Christians, a dubious figure knows as aeschenkarno commented on metafilter that "Smart kids are always a pack of lies" revealing that he had a clue "
posted by elpapacito at 5:56 PM on June 30, 2002

"You can't HANDLE the history."
posted by rushmc at 6:56 PM on June 30, 2002

If you're ever tempted to mess with Texas schoolbooks, remember their Depository - BLAM BLAM BLAM!
posted by anser at 7:00 PM on June 30, 2002

Oh come on now, we all know that the shots came from the grassy knoll, the Zapbruder tape is proof positive...

posted by scottymac at 7:43 PM on June 30, 2002

elpapacito: what the in the world are you talking about? This post isn't even about prostitution itself -- it's about a textbook that mentions prostitution! And women do make up 50% of the population, you know; if 50% of the population wants something, that's lots of folks. Whatever.
posted by josh at 8:18 PM on June 30, 2002

The reason prostitution is illegal is women who are in power or wives of the powerfull dont want it legal.

yes, if only prostitution were legal, poor women could rise up and throw off the shackles of their oppressors by legally selling themselves as commodities. or something.
posted by boltman at 8:36 PM on June 30, 2002

Lies My Teacher Told Me.

Changed my life.
posted by UncleFes at 10:53 PM on June 30, 2002

OT: The reason many feminists, such as Germaine Greer, object to prostitution is because of the pimp culture that surrounds it /OT
posted by Summer at 2:40 AM on July 1, 2002

Let me second Uncle Fes' book suggestion. Everyone should read it. It explains a lot about how fiction gets mixed with fact in the textbook selection process. There are a number of very good examples.

Also (not in the book): large parts of California (my state) had legal prostitution until well into the twentieth century. It's strange how the past we are taught differs from the past of reality. Not just prostitution. But almost everything
posted by hwright at 3:47 AM on July 1, 2002

So what if the Great Backwater of Texas has a little bit of revisionism in it's history. None of us really care anyway.
posted by MaddCutty at 6:18 AM on July 1, 2002

Texas is proud to say they currently have a crop of the finest corporate political whores the world has ever seen. They'll kiss anything and blow anybody for the right price, and do it without flinching over compromising their honor and integrity and values. And one of them had his daddy and pals buy the White House and the whore Extreme Court.
posted by nofundy at 7:05 AM on July 1, 2002

What do you expect from a state where it is illegal in some areas to own dildos or vibrators?
posted by eas98 at 7:55 AM on July 1, 2002

Fes, hwright: That's a great book. It's amazing the way history is watered down in an attempt to sell as many textbooks to as many school districts (while not offending anybody with uncomfortable truths, as this story illustrates) as possible. For others interested, here's the author's website.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:35 AM on July 1, 2002

Actually eas98, anyone in Texas with six or more "obscene devices" is a criminal. Check out Section 43.23(f), Texas Penal Code.

That's why here in Texas we call 'em "personal massagers" and "educational tools."
posted by conquistador at 10:47 AM on July 1, 2002

Heehee, I said "penal" and "tools"...
posted by conquistador at 10:48 AM on July 1, 2002

cmon yall, don't diss Texas too much ;) It's a very weird state.

As for me, I *love* Austin, but I know that there was a man in some county who successfully enacted a law requiring people to answer the phone with "heaven-o" to avoid saying.. you know what ;)
posted by firestorm at 1:49 PM on July 1, 2002

no prostitution here in austin texas.
posted by ggggarret at 2:21 PM on July 1, 2002

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