Oregon is such a quaint little state. In so many ways it’s such a cultural backwater. Why, just this week, a book was banned in Prineville, at Crook County High School. The offending book was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie. Alexie is a member of the Spokane/Coeur D’Alene tribe, and grew up on the Spokane Indian reservation according to his biography on his Web site. This particular book is an award-winning book that had been assigned to a ninth grade class.
So what’s the problem, you ask? Glad you asked, friend.
Turns out a Mr. Hank Moss “didn’t feel comfortable” with the fact that the book discusses masturbation, and in fact said the whole book seemed “trashy” to him. The article in the Bend Bulletin quotes Mr. Alexie:
“Everything in the book is what every kid in that school is dealing with on a daily basis, whether it’s masturbation or racism or sexism or the complications of being human,” he said. “To pretend that kids aren’t dealing with this on an hour-by-hour basis is a form of denial.”
“The world is an incredibly complicated place, and our literature must match that, especially literature for our kids,” Alexie said. “The book is incredibly positive about the world we live in, and people from vastly different politics and groups end up being friends. … If they read the book, it’s a celebration of the values of what they (parents who oppose the book) hold dear.”
I’ve heard of Mr. Alexie, but have not read any of his books. Yet. This one may be first.
Honestly, if the worst thing in the book is a short mention of masturbation, how bad can it be? When I was in school, The Catcher in the Rye was the scary book. I have to wonder if Mr. Moss allows his son to play violent video games. I have no doubt he’s a hunter, and taught his son to shoot. That’s what they do out there in eastern Oregon. And hell, most of the rest of the state. Guns=good, honesty=bad. I think it’s safe to say most 14-year-old boys are aware of masturbation, no? This is a scary place.