OH BROTHER!

Young Adult sci-fi novel, Little Brother, was recently booted off a Florida high school summer reading list. According to the novel’s author, Cory Doctorow, the school’s principal “cited reviews that emphasized the book’s positive view of questioning authority,” as the problem. Guess “questioning authority” is an idea that the students at Booker T. Washington High couldn’t be bothered with over their break. An affirmative view on “hacker culture” was also troubling. “In short,” Doctorow said, “…the book was being challenged because of its politics and its content.”

To protest the principal’s decision, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) sent a letter to the Pensacola Florida school board asking that Little Brother be returned to the reading list. “School officials are bound by constitutional considerations, including a duty not to give in to pressure to suppress unpopular or controversial ideas,” said Executive Director Joan Bertin. “Cory Doctorow’s work as an author and activist engages with the realities today’s young people are confronting on a daily basis as citizens in their own right,” Charles Brownstein explained, who is another Executive Director, this time of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund—which is partners with the NCAC on The Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP).  “We hope the concerns expressed by all of us at the KRRP will lead school officials to honor the rights of their students by reinstating this valuable book, ” continued Brownstein.

BAD FOR YOU also adds it’s voice of support to Doctorow (and not just because of the great review he gave us at his amazing website BoingBoing.net).

Marches on Zero Tolerance as Zero Tolerance Marches On

When a 15-year-old Wake County, N.C. student was roughed up, handcuffed and suspended for cutting a lunchline, eight students decided they had enough. Read about it (here.)
And, if you want to know when all this madness started, read about it (here.)
But here’s a preview:
BFU.139

Swallowed By The Dragon or Laughter in the Dark? Revisiting the D & D Moral Panic

As followers of this blog may know, Tor.com has been excerpting chapters from the forthcoming book BAD FOR YOU (releasing January 7th) as part of Banned Book Week. Now that the “celebration” is over, today’s offering at Tor features a section on gaming and is a bit more downbeat than previous ones. This excerpt focuses on how a pair of tragic events led to a moral panic about the Satanic power of Dungeons and Dragons. Since the original panic was over 30 years ago, we’ve decided to post some Youtube clips on just how silly the situation got back then. First off, does Dungeons and Dragons encourage human sacrifice?

If the process of just how D & D ensnares souls is as blurry to you as that video, it is all laid out in graphic black and white by  Jack Chick in his Christian comic:

Hard to believe how scared people used to be about D & D. At least those crazy days are behind us. No one has mentioned how the game could “literally destroyed peoples’ lives.” Actually, that’s a direct quote from Pat Robertson, host of the 700 Club, which claims “approximately one million viewers” daily. A quote from this summer!

So stay away! Far away! Dungeons and Dragons is definitely BAD FOR YOU.

But if you find these warnings unconvincing and even laughable, it’s a pretty good bet you won’t be laughing alone given that comedians Stephen Colbert, Mike Meyers, Matt Groening, Rainn Wilson, Patton Oswalt, Robin Williams, David Cross and Weird Al Yanjovic are all either past or current players of D and D.

NO JOKE!!!

And because every claim can use a little evidence, here ours: Stephen Colbert did gave a tribute to D & D co-creator Gary Gygax at the end of The Colbert Report the day after Gygax passed away, March 5th, 2008. “Gary you will be missed,” Colbert said, then asked, “How much…?” Before he answered, he rolled a d20.

“20! May all your prismatic sprays bypass your targets’ Reflex saving throws.”

Proof that Colbert knows his game.

 

ARE YOU GAME?

There’s a lot of scary claims out there about video games: that they’re too violent, that they turn kids antisocial, that they’re just plain BAD FOR YOU. But if you’re a gamer who would like to address those claims for yourself, the National Coalition Against Censorship would like to listen. And watch. The NCAC has a new film contest and the theme is “Video Games in the Crosshairs.”

So here it is, a chance for you, the ones who actually play the games, to voice your opinion in a creative and fun way. Deadline for submission is December 13th. It’s free to enter and the top three winners receive cash prizes. Money! For more video games!!! Must be 19 or under to apply. The first place winner will received a free one-week digital filmmaking course at the New York Film Academy, plus a $5,000 scholarship toward any one-, two-, or three-year NYFA program .

BAD FOR YOU SNEAK PEEK AT TOR.COM

Heads up to followers of the BAD FOR YOU website (both of you): Tor.com, a hub site for “all the things that interest SF and fantasy readers” will be excerpting sections of BAD FOR YOU beginning Monday, as part of their recognition of Banned Book Week (September 22−28). Never heard of Banned Book Week? It’s an annual event “celebrating the freedom to read,” according to the American Library Association. Though, along with all the celebrating, there’s a big dose of lamenting as well.

Why so sad? Because of all the books still getting targeted for challenging, censoring  and outright banning from book stores, libraries and schools, that’s why. A total of forty-four for 2012-13 (and that’s the Illinois Library Associations short list).

BAD FOR YOU is honored to be a part of the celebration and thanks Tor Publishing for allowing us to participate. The history of comic book and book banning (and burning) is the main focus of the first section of BFY. In particular, censoring fantasy material for the sake of sensitive kids — since they weren’t supposed to be sophisticated enough to tell the difference between make-believe and real life. It’s an old story…one that started with Plato (yeah, that one).

Banned Book Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association; American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression; the American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of American Publishers; Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; the Freedom to Read Foundation; National Coalition Against Censorship; National Council of Teachers of English; National Association of College Stores; PEN American Center and and Project Censored.  It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

Whew!

“BEEF STICKS AND OILY CORNBREAD”: SCHOOL LUNCHES ILLUMINATED

clip_image001

One of the diagrams in BAD FOR YOU charts the differences – no, make that the similarities – between school lunches and meals served to inmates. Turns out that the food a prisoner and a student receive vary very little (well, the kid’s meal does cost a whole SIX cents more).

Now, the BAD FOR YOU boys have discovered a youth nonprofit website called DoSomething.org that offers pupils an opportunity to photograph their plate of unpleasantness and upload it to a section on the site called Fed Up. Fellow students can then vote on whether they would “Eat It” or “Toss It” (“Tossing It Up” is not an option – though it should be given the looks of some of the shots).

The purpose of the project isn’t just for laughs, but also to gather data and “create a ‘heat map’ of school lunches in the U.S.,” according to The Huffington Post. “Their goal is to raise awareness of the sad state of nutrition in public schools.”

Hey teens, teachers are always telling you how important it is be share. So this is a chance to share your cruddy meal with the rest of the world.

And speaking of sharing, here are a few more facts about high school lunches that we’ll include from The Huffington Post article:

• According to the USDA a typical school lunch far exceeds the recommended 500 milligrams of sodium; some districts, in fact, serve lunches with more than 1,000 milligrams.

• The USDA also reports that less than 1/3 of schools stay below the recommended standard for fat content in their meals.

• Last year 21 million students relied on free and reduced lunch as their primary meal of the day. Up to 65 percent of their daily calorie intake comes from school provided meals.

• Unbalanced nutrition leads to decreased performance in school, obesity, diabetes, and a whole slew of other health problems.

(Photo above actual lunch shot from Fed Up)

SUSPENSION SUSPENDED

Remember the story from the BAD FOR YOU post on June 6th? A kindergartner brought his cowboy cap gun to class and after two-hours of interrogation, he walked out of the principal’s office with a 10-day suspension (for “possession of a look-alike gun”) and peed-in pants (because he was scared).

Well, he can stop shaking: the county school chief reversed “in its entirety” the boy’s suspension after “carefully considering both the needs of the student and those of the school system.” The boy’s attorney also called for the kindergartner’s criminal record to be “wiped clean.” He argued that the boy was clueless when the conduct code was presented because he did not know how to read and could not “grasp the gravity of the rules.”

The codes were handed out to students the first week of school in the form of coloring books.

TEN-YEAR-OLD TURNS THE TABLES ON CRAPPY SCHOOL LUNCHES

This story is a few weeks old but too juicy (the opposite of over-cooked and dry) not to post. It seems that no one believed Zachary Maxwell when he pointed out a depressing difference between the  “delicious meals, full of whole grains and fresh vegetables, some even designed by celebrity chefs” on his lunchroom menu and what was actually showing up on his plate. So he snuck a video camera into school and gathered evidence.

“When I came back home and showed them the footage, they were like, ugh!”
The resulting film “Yuck: A 4th Grader’s Short Documentary About School Lunch” will be screened at the Manhattan Film Festival next month. Click here to read all the gruesome details. In the meantime, here’s a graphic from BAD FOR YOU showing how the average school lunch stacks up to what they serve in prison!
BFU.153