Monday, April 24, 2006

Georgia Puts Rational Thought In Its Place

Oh blog! How I've missed you and also not missed you. Anyway, back from my much needed hiatus. Plenty of vaguely interesting things happened during my week off, but nothing too exciting. I spent half of my non-blog writing time writing my very long entry for the Literary Smackdown site, and the other half working on Book. Made some good progress there but the ongoing problem for me is that, at the beginning (back in 2000), the writing of my novel was like a 6-lane freeway and I just tore ass down that thing. But as I've continued work on it, it's narrowed down to a two-lane country highway, then a bumpy bike trail, and now (to flog this simile a little harder), in the waning pages of this final draft, it's more like a tightrope I'm having to walk, balancing on a tiny wire of plausibility stretched over a yawning chasm of straight-up, laugh-out-loud ridiculousness. The silly deus ex machina territory that King so fearlessly waded into for the second half of his most recent novel is a place I'm trying desperately to avoid. And, in the interest of full disclosure, when I was similarly troubled during the writing of the first draft, I tried just writing it all down, getting it all out on paper and then returning to it later to whittle and finesse and rework. The result of that method was the dreck I'm rewriting now. Slow and steady is the way, I think. Anyway. The next writing project I do will be short short and simple simple. I'm talking like "See Spot Run" short and simple.

Also, go to and take a gander at my story and Hinesy's poem. (I'd say read Heath's and the Bloodworth guy's entries, but I don't think their stories are for everyone). Mine is, like I said, kind of long, but read as far as you can and the second you get bored with it, make note of the sentence that made you want to quit reading, and put it in the comments. It would help me out because I could try and make it suck less.

Anyway, on with the show! To start this week, I have a couple of Georgia-related items to share. The first is this. From my former hometown, Lawrenceville, Georgia, located in beautiful Gwinnett County, a parent named Laura Mallory is fighting to have all of the Harry Potter books removed from all Gwinnett County public school libraries. “I want to protect my kids, children and others from evil,” Mallory said. “Not fill their minds with it.”

Yes, it is sad that yet another book-banning debate has arisen in my home state, and it is sad that small-minded religious zealots are spending their time trying to dictate their "faith" (read: incredibly peculiar beliefs) to everyone else, but what raises this instance above the sad but mundane, is who showed up to help Mallory argue against the Potter books.
"“I’m a true example of how Harry Potter books can open your life to witchcraft,” said Jordan Susch.
Susch says she read the first Harry Potter novel when she was in the fourth grade. Two years later, she says, she and her friends were practicing witchcraft.

“We wanted to know if spells, potions and curses worked. By the seventh grade, I was so depressed, I set a date to kill myself,” Susch said."
Wow. Could she be the only person in America who became a Goth kid after reading Harry Potter? Usually people who are against the Harry Potter books argue for banning them on the grounds that, basically, they just don't like them, but rarely do the opponents of childhood literacy actually find people to testify that the books actually made them practice witchcraft. Way to go, Laura Mallory! Obviously, I'm all for keeping the Potter books on public school library shelves, but I have to ask myself, what if a parent was trying to get the Left Behind books banned from public school libraries? I guess I'd say let the libraries stock the Left Behind books, too. But I don't think it's fairness the evangelical Christians are after.

I used to think that if you were fair-minded with fundamentalist types, they would be reasonable in turn; as if reasonableness and fairness was all they wanted. I don't believe this is the case. The fundamentalist activists take advantage of the secular person's sense of fair play by saying, for example, when intelligent design was being ripped a new one by evolutionary scientists, "Just teach the controversy." Our own President echoed this line. Which seems innocent enough, on the surface. Why not allow public schools to talk about the debate between religion and science? It's newsworthy, right? But then you realize the fundamentalists have duped you into inserting the precepts of Creationism into a public-school curriculum. Whoops. Well, they didn't fool enough people with that bunkum, so they've got a new scam, and this time it's in Georgia, and this time, it's the law. Let's teach the Bible in public high-schools!

"A bill that allows public high schools to offer classes on the Bible sped through the Georgia House today [March 23rd], passing overwhelmingly with no debate.

The legislation, which passed 151-to-7, would allow high schools to form elective courses on the history and literature of the Old Testament and New Testament eras. The classes would focus on the law, morals, values and culture of the eras."

Like intelligent design, it sounds innocent enough on the surface. The Bible and its stories are woven into the fabric of our culture. Why not give students who maybe didn't have Sunday school a secular grounding in the"Good Book"? Well, because this is just another attempt on the part of fundamentalist activists to get religion into schools with the express purpose of evangelizing 13-18-year old high-school students in our public, taxpayer-supported schools. This is a sad, and constant fight against the darker aspects of our natures. In most parts of the country, the Scopes Monkey Trial woke the citizenry to the idea that evolution maybe isn't crazy, and that Creationism maybe is. That was 80 years ago, and here we are, having to fight these same battles over and over again. It's dispiriting to say the least. When is Georgia going to make some good, We're-Not-Retarded news? And if they do, will the national media care?

Anyway. A long post, I know -- lots to say over the course of the past week. All right. More tomorrow, though not as much as today.


Edward Ott said...

Which bible are they going to use as i have a neighbor who has stated that the KING JAMES is the only true bible.

noahkey said...

Well, you will always have the Braves, Crane. That's good, right?

That would be one place in Georgia where the citizens accepted/revered not only a black man but a Dutchman to boot.

Stupid dutch and their sensible drug policies and open society.

Andruw Jones for Govenor. You watch: 15 years from now, he could win.

Imagine. Have a nice day.


Craig Moorhead said...

By it's nature, religion is not based on critical thought. Instead, it is motivated by the idea that you must spread the word about your religion - the only true religion, whatever religion it is - by any means necessary. Trying to ban books is the organized religion equivalent of hitting the gym three days a week. They're just keeping in shape.

I fully consider myself a Christian, incidentally, and I don't condemn the loaded gun. Just the assholes who swing it around and point it at everybody.

harwell said...

Yeah, guns don't kill people; bullets do. Right, Craig?