Dorothy, Mel and I were in the auditorium and heard the presentation by both sides, the Board's questions and the answers. Phyllis Fletcher from KUOW was also there.
I had gone over to Ms Fletcher when she entered the room and congratulated/thanked her for her story on the matter from that morning. The story described the problem at the root of the matter and fairly and accurately represented the perspectives of each side.
That contrasts starkly with other stories written about the situation.
The story in the Times didn't misrepresent the situation, but didn't explain it either. Consequently there were 207 comments about PC or totalitarian efforts to "ban" the book before I posted a comment that stated the actual situation.
The story in the P-I, however, was just plain wrong. The headline read: "Parent seeks to ban 'Brave New World' from Seattle schools" which is just factually wrong. The story goes on to say:
At a Seattle School Board meeting Wednesday night, a concerned parent will petition for a ban on Aldous Huxley's classic book "Brave New World."Again, just plain factually wrong. The P-I story says "Sense-Wilson's daughter was offended by the satire from 1932" which is a gross mischaracterization. The writer from the P-I, Amy Rolph, has a lot to answer for. I have to wonder if she was at the hearing. I don't think she could have been.
There's a story on the Stranger's Slog by Eli Sanders in which he writes: "I Can't Believe We're Talking About Banning Brave New World at a Seattle Public High School". Well it's a good thing he can't believe it because he shouldn't believe it because it isn't true.
There are other stories now floating around the web, and nearly all of them grotesquely misrepresent the situation, both the concern and the potential outcome of the decision. Many of these irresponsible stories encourage people to contact Ms Sense-Wilson, Nathan Hale, and the District.
As a result, Ms Sense-Wilson, Nathan Hale, and the District have all been scorned unjustly - sometimes, I suppose, directly.
The for-profit press isn't without its biases. They aren't necessarily biased one way or another politically, but they definitely have a bias towards sensationalism.
I guess I have to re-state the truth about both the challenge and the consequences if the challenge is upheld.
The challenge was rooted in the fact that typical 15- and 16-year-old students do not have the background context necessary to distinguish between the satirical representation of "savage" culture in the book and the reality of Native American cultures. If appropriate care is not exercised by the teacher, students can come away with some very strange, negative, and mistaken beliefs about Native American cultures.
If the challenge is upheld, the book will be removed from the list of texts on the aligned curriculum. Teachers are free to teach any books they like, but they are expected to choose at least four a year from this list. Being on the list doesn't mean that a book will be taught - Ballard is the only school now teaching Brave New World. Likewise, being off the list doesn't prevent a teacher from assigning a book as teachers assign much more than four books a year. Removing Brave New World from the list wouldn't prevent a teacher from assigning it. There are only 75 works on this list. There are a lot of books, great books, that aren't on the list. There's nothing here by Herman Melville or Nathaniel Hawthorne. There are more great books that are not on the list than the 75 that are on it. It would not be accurate or fair to say that every other book that isn't on this list is "banned".