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And I Thought Censorship Was So Yesterday

Very intentionally, I’ve stayed away from the latest tale of woe involving the forced resignation of a young high school teacher in Guilford, Ct., who very mistakenly assigned Eightball #22 as make-up homework. I did so largely, because other comic spots on the Net (most prominently, THE BEAT) had done a good job of debating the issue pretty fairly and I had nothing new to add to the conversation about censorship, especially after following the Marshall Public Library story earlier this year.

That is, until something caught my eye….

First, it was The Huffington Post picking up on Tom Tomorrow’s lengthy post about said Guilford news story that touched on an important detail about the case of which I wasn’t aware that may become a growing trend in this country: Getting the police involved in the censorship battle when the so-called “injured” parties want more than a pound of flesh, and don’t get it from school administrators.

The punchline of Tomorrow’s story: “The teacher whose career has most likely been destroyed by a perfect storm of overzealous parents and cowardly school administrators will not be criminally prosecuted.” Sounds like a scenario straight out of 1984, and one that could never happen where you live.

But you’d be wrong too.

Commuting home from by day job, the local talk show guy shared the AP story about an English teacher and assistant football coach in the small town of Tuscola, near Abilene in north central Texas who was suspended with pay by his local school district and was under investigation by local police because his latest reading list included Child of God, written by Pulitzer Prize winning author Cormac McCarthy. And, this was after the book had been selected among many by teachers at Jim Ned High School (yep, that’s the real name) for a pre-AP class.

In this case, the parents of a high school freshman took their complaint about the 1974 book, based on a Tennessee murder case involving necrophilia and animal abuse, to the local sheriff after meetings with the teacher and school principal obviously didn’t go as planned.

For those of you, like me, who may have dismissed the Eightball tempest in a “Noreaster” teapot that cost a young teacher his job and, perhaps, reputation, as a fluke, read the AP’s account about legislating morailty in small town Texas.

This ain’t specifically about comics, but I’ll keep you posted about this one…

P.S. That Connecticut school district also had a reading list that included works by McCarthy, D.H. Lawrence and Charles Bukowski. The road to “respectability” for comics as an art form is a rocky one indeed.

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