100% Substance Free

There is a lot of pompous political and social commentary/claptrap published every single day, but rarely do you come across something as intellectually dishonest and yet totally vapid as the new column by Rebecca Hagelin. Becky, author of the book 'Home Invasion' and Town Hall regular, takes the proverbial cake with her new piece 'Are your kids reading rot'.

"Reading isn’t always good for our kids," she begin, and then goes on to congratulate herself for all the controversy she imagines she is stirring up amongst the "educational elites". The elites in question are "the very liberal American Library Association". Okay, stop your laughing - you didn't know that the ALA was openly funded by George Soros? And as Hagelin will tell you, they are very influential in what books teachers assign their students. Then Hagelin gives us the following scenario, which could be taking place in your own house at this very moment. Particularly if you have a daughter by the name of Little Suzi.

Mrs. Jones hands out a book report assignment that includes several books for her class to choose from. Mom dutifully drives Suzi to the local library and browses while Suzi selects her book. Within half an hour, book in hand, everyone is feeling rather satisfied that they have been so responsible in starting on the project early. Mom and Suzi arrive home, and while mom begins making dinner, the conscientious and responsible Suzi heads to her room and begins to consume what turns out to be highly sexualized, vulgar garbage, filled with four-letter words and enough verbal porn to embarrass even an ole’ salt.

They just don't make ole' salts like they used to, I guess. But what on earth is going to happen to little Suzi, now that she has been so unfairly befouled?

Mom doesn’t have a clue that her daughter’s innocence has just been molested in the privacy of her own bedroom. She won’t ever know because Suzi, a bit stymied by the fact that Mom took her to get a book that her teacher assigned, will be too embarrassed and confused to ever tell. Yet, she’s just had sexuality, relationships and acceptable behavior defined for her by some perverted author most folks have never heard of. And the kid was simply trying to get her homework done.

Oh my. The sad thing is that behind every little Suzi who gets molested by words, there is a teacher who is knowingly involved in the corruptive act. That's right - even in public schools, teachers are required to be familiar with the material they assign. If that isn't a case for home schooling, I don't know what is. Our Becky knows about these things firsthand.

While researching my book, [okay Becky, we've already mentioned it once], I took an ALA-recommended reading list for 13- and 14-year-olds to my local library and headed to the “Young Adult” section (code for “pre-teen” and “teen”). [obviously Nancy Drew was on Becky's reading list] I found some books from the list; others were already checked out. One book, the librarian told me, had just been returned but hadn’t been re-shelved, so I patiently waited while she went into the back room to retrieve it. [A good detective is always patient.]  ......

There’s something very moving about holding a book in your hand that a child has just finished reading. [There's something about that sentence that gives me the creeps.] But the warmth in my heart soon turned into a sickening feeling in my gut when I began to read passages so cheap and trashy that I could scarcely believe my eyes. I only had to get to page four before the first of many uses of the term “motherf-----” showed up. Several scenes described, in graphic detail, sexual acts between teenagers.

In the interest of decency, there’s no way I can give you word-for-word examples. And I refuse to give the trashy book and its loser author free publicity in a column that often gets forwarded around the World Wide Web...

Isn't that good of Hagelin? She's worried that her column might fall into the wrong hand, and then she would be no better than the 'loser writer' she talks about. Or maybe she just doesn't want to give any information which could identify the fact that she's making all of this up. Because even though the ALA's website has a number of lists, they have no recommended reading list for 13-14 year olds. Or 8th graders. Or 15-16 year olds. And if they did have such a lurid list, you could bet your bottom dollar that Becky would be linking to it.

Lest you think the first book was put on the list in error, the next recommended teen item I thumbed through was equally as nauseating. A sexual act between fourth-graders was a “highlight,” as well as graphic details of sex between teens, including a homosexual encounter. And this is the garbage that today’s educators pass off as great literature for our children? The great classics, meanwhile, are all but missing. One list I reviewed for eight-graders contained about 20 authors -- none recognizable save the lone great Mark Twain. And they call this education?

And they call this journalism? The inclusion of Twain's name - the one tiny bit of factual information Hagelin let's slide through - is proof positive that the story is invalid. The list does not exist. Still, wanting to give her the benefit of the doubt, I took my expanded search out to the web. And lo and behold, there were plenty of book lists for this age group which included Mr. Twain. Only thing wrong was the plentitude of other recognizable names. You know, writers like Hemingway, Orwell, Kipling and Dickens. The only way to give Becky any further benefit of the doubt would be to conclude that she is an illiterate nitwit. And this can't be true, can it? After all, she wrote a book.

So why the attack on the innocuous ALA? Is it their resistance to the portion of the patriot act which allows library records to be seized? Their involvement with the Banned Book Week project? Or possibly, as a child, some librarian shushed Hagelin. Too bad they weren't more successful.



©2005, Mark Hoback