Thursday, April 16, 2009

Please explain to me how penguins can ruin America's children?

Penguins. Those cute little semi-aquatic birds that fly under water and are perpetually dressed to the nines. I have just been informed that they will corrupt the youth of America if we continue to allow children to read...

On my way to campus this morning, I was listening to WXPN for my fix of actual music. However, I ended up catching it during their talking break (damn my great sense of timing). Books, specifically library books was being discussed, so I kept my hands from endlessly switching stations as they are so apt to do in these situations because I, as well as many people who read this blog (well, at least the 2 people I know who might peruse it from time to time) enjoy a good book.

The discussion turned ugly. People complaining that The Kite Runner was not appropriate reading material. They have been complaining that the book is to graphically sexual and may harm children if they were to pick it up from a library. I, however, find this complaint somewhat ridiculous on so many levels, let me give you a few.
#1 This is NOT a children's book! Don't let them read it!
#2 IF you don't like it don't read it yourself, don't prevent me from making my own decision because I have a different standard of what an enjoyable read is.
#3 I am pretty sure this is the same group of people that try to get Harry Potter banned, so what are you doing in a library anyways, I am sure your "church" library is The Kite Runner and Harry Potter free.

More intriguing (disturbing, eye-opening, jaw dropping?) was that the most complained about book was a children's picture book, And Tango Makes Three. Brief synopsis for those unfamiliar: Two penguins, who happen to both be male, do the penguin thing and pair up as life partners in a zoo. They try to get an egg looking rock to hatch by taking care of it. The zoo keeper gives them a real egg (not a golden one, sorry Jack) and it hatches. And Tango makes 3! So it's a story about how this little family came to be. But this story comes with a twist...according to the complaints, and this little animal family story has received the most complaints to the ALA ever, the book is anti-family. Anti-family!

What does this phrase even mean? How can you be against family? It's like being against chocolate, or puppy dogs! Even the Menendez brothers weren't considered anti-family (they were, however, found guilty of murdering their parents, but they still had each other!) The only way this makes sense is if they are referring to being anti-family, as definition #8 from Webster's describes family as "a unit of a crime syndicate (as the Mafia) operating within a geographic area." (I would tend to agree that penguins are not members of some criminal underworld, although now that I think about it, maybe that's exactly what they are and the South Pole is their secret headquarters, and the tuxedo feathers are their way to ID friendly's....)

This is the problem with American English. You have a word with traditional meanings and that can also be defined to encompass a broader idea. Groups cannot just stick anti- or un- in front of a word that encompasses a value or aspect of "mainstream" culture that they want to protect. I get that they mean anti-traditional family, but if they were to say that, they would not make the same impact. But I feel that I will go with Webster's definition #5:
"the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children ; also : any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family." (And dear, dear anti-family people, please note that it lists 2 parents, not a female and male parent, who may or may not be married.)

So people reading my blog, come and help me support this traditional penguin family and let's get them married (the word marriage includes same sex marriage, bite me CA Supreme Court). Because I feel that may be the root of the problem for the complainers, they aren't married and had Tango out of wedlock.

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