At the Huffington Post, Michael Schaub brilliantly ridicules not only the campaign of a DeLand, Florida woman to have her school district ban Bapsi Sidhwa’s critically acclaimed Cracking India (for passing references to oral sex), but also a clueless opinion piece in the local newspaper.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal has an odd editorial on the controversy, noting: “International Baccalaureate requirements are stringent, but they’re not so specific that one title must be read over another, and the literary canon is not so wanting that there aren’t piles of worthy alternatives to choose from (Salman Rushdie’s “Shame,” also about the violent birth of Pakistan, would be a nifty substitute).”
Shame really is a brilliant book, and it’s completely inoffensive, unless you take umbrage at sentences like “Fuck me in the mouth, pimp, go suck your grandson’s cock” (page 251) and “I shit on your words. Your balls dropped too soon and you got the hots, no more to it than that” (page 23). If you eliminate every book with “offensive” material from a school’s reading list, you’re left with a pretty shallow pool.
You don’t expect wacko parents to bother finishing the books they campaign against. But I’ve begun to wonder whether local journalists commenting on censorship debates have even a passing familiarity with the books they’re writing about.
* From Genesis 19:34-36:
And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him. . . . Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.