Granberry’s blatant misrepresentation on book banning issue

[Republished article from earlier assignment.]

 

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Can I blame all my faults on reading Dr. Seuss, Peter Pan, and Snow White when I was a child? The individuals who attempted to ban those books probably entertain that belief. Although book banning is hardly a new occurrence, it is likely to be as old as books themselves. There are recorded attempts, and references, hundreds of years before Christ, such as Socrates and Plato (Plato). Per chance even a few petroglyphs were smudged beyond recognition over one clan taking offense at another. However, after reading the prescribed book banning articles for my latest assignment, I feel one should be singled out and positioned away from the others.

In his article “Books Are Being Banned,” Michael Granberry, a Los Angeles Times staff writer, points out how book banning is not only on the rise, but it is being perpetrated by both the conservative and liberal factions. To strengthen his claim Granberry chooses a variety of evidence, combining specific incidents with various organizations that profess local and national book banning agendas. This is seen with his use of individual cases like the book banning situation played out, ironically, in the town of Banning, involving well-known poet Maya Angelou’s autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Granberry then weaves in related statistics from watch-dog organizations like People for the American Way, founded by Norman Lear, along with various authoritative comments by officials representing nationally recognized organizations like the American Library Association. Further solidifying his contentions, Granberry recounts a diverse array of books and authors that have been targeted for banning. The list includes Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and the Bible: even Dr. Seuss and Snow White. However, in an attempt to show impartiality, Granberry concludes it is not just the conservatives worried about family values; he claims the liberal factions equally weigh in with race, age, and gender complaints. Sadly, although Granberry attempts to portray a sense of impartiality by admitting both conservative and liberal factions participate in book banning efforts, it is a dishonest and feeble attempt so blatantly obvious through unbalanced and manipulated evidence, along with logic and emotional fallacies, that it diminishes his credibility in the eyes of any reader not burdened with a similar bias.

When Granberry plays the sympathy card, although a legitimate practice, in his hands it is nothing short of overkill. He positions the event first and foremost, repeats parts of it, allocates over twenty-five percent of the forty-two paragraph text to it, and succumbs to the temptation of spreading a post hoc fallacy with regards to the incident. The fallacy pertains to the “book banner from Banning” (Granberry) affair with Kathy McNamara, who, if believed, is under the assumption that protesting parents sent her colleague Deborah Bennett to an early grave instead of the unfortunate combination of lung and breast cancer. Although the protesting and publicity curiously had no detrimental effect on McNamara, who went on to acquire the Banning Unified School District’s Superintendent position (Quan, Hill). Unfortunately, accomplice to one fallacy was not enough for Granberry, who carefully practices some subtle name calling. He refers to Christian conservatives as “critics,” “wannabe censors,” and a “religious sect:” sect is a word most modern-day writers use to describe cult factions, like Jim Jones or the Branch Davidians. It is rarely used to simply denote a smaller inner group as it once was. On the other hand, he at least refrained from going as far as Thomas Storck in his article “Censors Can Be Beneficial,” who lumps “Bible Belt provincialism” in the same sentence with Hitler and Stalin. However, back to the Banning affair, Granberry gives voice to McNamara’s claim that “They all say the same thing…,” as if it is not taken on an individual basis, but a combined mob mentality. Then in the very next paragraph he lumps librarians and school officials together for not mustering enough backbone to fight back against the wannabe censors. It is a statement to add credence to Judith Krug, director of the OIF and Freedom to Read Foundation, who claims that librarians and school officials will not put forth that amount of effort because they do not make as much money as those who fight longer and harder against censorship: an inappropriate pass the buck excuse for anyone questioning the fact, and a rather poor image of her colleagues if you ask me.

If Granberry, who is undoubtedly against censorship, but equally a die-hard liberal, would have honestly stated his position instead of giving a half-hearted attempt at impartiality, he would have retained credibility. To act like he was being objective while blatantly stacking the deck is unethical and does not befit a professional writer. Out of forty-two paragraphs Granberry only mentions the liberal factions attempting to ban books a brief three times. How objective and impartial is that? Similarly, his statistics and quotes are only liberal representations, including the fore mentioned fallacies, when trying to support his point of view. He then reverses it and only uses conservative quotes in an attempt to make the book banners look bad. This would not be the case if he honestly wanted to attack both the liberal and conservative book banning factions.

Likewise, claiming the censorship advocating parents are carrying out a “war on books” is an oversimplification fallacy by Granberry, in an obvious effort to polarize his target readers. It is here that he transitions to the statistics and opinions by far-left liberal factions, such as the People for the American Way, and various quotes from the aforementioned Krug. Krug has not only been director of the OIF within the American Library Association for over forty years, but she has partnered with the ACLU, serving on their board for three years, and was instrumental in lowering the responsibility level of librarians through the amended Library Bill of Rights, as Helen Chaffee Biehle diligently points out in her article “Libraries Should Restrict Access to Offensive Books.” In other words, the evidence speaks for itself, shooting Granberry’s credibility all to hell.

Anyone can make a mistake, and oversights can be forgiven, but Granberry’s style of writing is so clearly misrepresentational that any chance for serious consideration is gone. A writer cannot stack the proverbial deck with statistics and opinions from the extreme left, succumb to perpetrating a half dozen fallacies, and allocate approximately 5% to liberal book banners and 95% to conservative book banners, and expect anyone but extreme liberals to believe them. And yes, I acknowledge that there are extremes on both sides, but moderate liberals and conservatives are more interested in the truth so they can make more informed decisions, or at least be able to base their beliefs on provable facts. Any professional writer who takes a serious topic and blatantly attempts to scam the readers through manipulation of alleged evidence forfeits all credibility, and should not even be a professional writer.

Therefore, Granberry’s feeble attempt at impartiality has done nothing to persuade me to give up my moderate view on book banning. There are simply things that minors are not mature enough to properly grasp. How would you like to learn that a rebellious and unsupervised youth living next door to you just acquired the step-by-step instructions for building a bomb using nothing but items found under the sink or in the garage? Or find out that the ten-year old boy that molested your six-year old daughter had been constantly indoctrinated with verbal and visual images of rape through books, music, and videos? Are you then going to confess to your daughter that you stopped the local censors from taking the inappropriate material out of the hands of the immature youth that hurt her? And yet, going overboard on censorship can be nearly as detrimental, though I would rather err on the side of safety for all. Therefore, the keyword should be responsible limits.

 

Works Cited

Biehle, Helen Chaffee. “Libraries Should Restrict Access to Offensive Books.” Opposing

Viewpoints: Censorship. Tamara L. Roleff. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2002. Opposing

Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. ORBIS Central Oregon Community College. Web 6 July 2009.

Granberry, Michael. “Books Are Being Banned.” Opposing Viewpoints: Censorship. Byron L.

Stay. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1997. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale.

ORBIS Central Oregon Community College. Web. 6 July 2009.

Plato. “Republic II.” Molloy Edu. Translated by Benjamin Jowett. Revised & Edited by Michael

  1. Russo. Sophia Project. 376d-383a. 2000. Web. 6 October 2009.

Quan, Douglas & Hill, Lisa O’Neill. “Officials’ Credentials Questioned.” The Press Entreprise.

Web. 2 October 2009.

Storck, Thomas. “Censorship Can Be Beneficial.” Opposing Viewpoints: Censorship. Ed. Byron

  1. Stay. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1997. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale.

ORBIS Central Oregon Community College. Web. 6 July 2009.

 

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Black Elk Speaks

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The biographical text indeed has a poetic flare (though not entirely) to it that comes across from the introduction onward, and can be seen in both Black Elk and John Neihardt’s speech and writing. For instance, Neihardt writes the following:

“Little else but weather ever happened in that country – other than the sun and moon and stars going over – and there was little for the old man to do but wait for yesterday (p.xxiii).”

 

And Black Elk’s normal manner of speech sings with the aged simplicity of wisdom and the colorful style of the long ago Indian, as seen in the following passages:

“What I know was given to me for men and it is true and it is beautiful. Soon I shall be under the grass and it will be lost (p.xxv).”

“I was born in the Moon of the Popping Trees on the Little Powder River in the Winter When the Four Crows Were Killed (p.7).” Continue reading

Leading up to the Red Power Movement

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People often try to pinpoint specific events when they talk about the birth of wars, happenings, fads, and major movements. For instance, it is easy to say America entered into a war with Japan after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It is a lot harder to retrace historic and cultural events which paved the way for Japan to ally itself with Germany and Italy. The same concept applies with consideration over what paved the way for the Red Power Movement of the 60s and 70s among the Native Americans. Similar to a chef adding various ingredients to some meal a variety of events occurred among Indians, over a thirty to forty year period, that created the recipe which brought forth the Red Power Movement. It is a complex issue that could easily require a volume of text to do justice. However, for the sake of brevity, I will point out some of the predominant ingredients which helped create the socio-political concoction known as the RPM: government policies, poverty, perseverance, and place paved the way for the Red Power Movement. Continue reading

War touches all

The following is a term paper based on several books written about the Vietnam War; but it is just as relevant for any war… and for any time.

[Take your ego and preconceived notions out of the equation and it’s never too late to learn.]

Fly the friendly skies0001

War touches all

War is greedy. A little thing can release it, but after it is let loose it cannot easily be tamed. It has no loyalty, not even to those who cast it forth. It seeks to ravage anything and anyone it touches, and it touches everyone. And anyone touched by war will never be the same. But individuals who experience war firsthand will, inevitably, bear a bigger cross: a burden uniquely forged by their experience and perspective. Continue reading

So I am Told

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I am a byproduct of civilization

Blood from two of the five

civilized tribes flows in me

So I am told

Tribes of the Southeast

Why is the Southeast not my home?

Because of the Trail of Tears

So I am told

Destination

Oklahoma

New roots for ancestral kin

So I am told

Why is Oklahoma not my home?

Because of the “New Deal”

So I am told

Placate the politician

Vacate the reservation

Paddy-cake a new direction

Earn more money

Have jingle-jangle jeans

Forget your language

Homicide your Spirit Guide

Be a “real” American

So I am told

A few went to Texas

A few to Southern Cal

Indian maiden finds white-eyed Prince

Indian brave finds white-eyed gal

Broken water sets me free

Born in Long Beach

California

As far away from my ancestral home

as I can get

without getting wet

So I am told

Separated geographically

Separated culturally

So I am told

But I have lived

loved

longed

lost

and laughed

But never with a true connection to kin

My inspiration to begin again

A byproduct of civilization

So I am told

More often than not – civilization sucks

© JW Thomas

Red Sisters

[Inspired be two well-known Native American authors having a squabble over who is “More Indian than thou” and which one represents the Native American way the best.]

Why must you argue red sisters?

Chirping and clucking – clucking and chirping

“More Indian than thou,” says she

Perhaps Coyote is again under the skin

Red on red should not be anger

Green Monster should not be released

She and she are both quite rare

Rare as the White Buffalo

The words of one are grand

The words of the other are deep

Talent is talent

Talent is a gift

Gifts are to be shared

Sisters – make peace

© JW Thomas

American Poets?

Wind brought the words

I heard it called waves of air

Claims of natural talent

Red blood

Red skin

Red clay

Erdrich is grandiose

Momaday the master

From oral tradition

to ink stains on paper

No treaty for creators

The hoop circle complete

Give air to the truth

say the warriors of the words

The Great American Poet

A spirit whispers

Whitman is dethroned

Are there real American poets?

Crane is shelved

Ginsberg is shackled

Poe is Poe

All Wasichus

Metamorphosis

Symbols by Silko

Howl with Harjo

Share through Young Bear

Don’t swim with Matchimanitou

Word warriors

Unmasked

Never saw the face of Death

No war honors

No spirit guide

False vision quest

Trickster’s prints are present

Socio-political activism

Public war of publicity

Market you

Market me

Forked-tongue talk

Hate-debaters

Great Spirit Father

and Mother Earth People

When we walk the Wasichu way

the strategy betrays

Coyote plays

Our people lose Integrity

who is drowned by Publicity

and stumbles in darkness

beneath the murky waters

of Matchimanitou

© JW Thomas