The Diary of Anne Frank has been a popular book for many years, especially for young teen girls.  Ms. Frank’s descriptions of her experiences with the horrors of war are an important historical account that resonates with young people.  Schools have been allowing or assigning its use in the classroom for years.

Occasionally there have been complaints about a “coming of age” passage in the book, but generally it has been considered worthwhile reading.  Until now.

Apparently, an unedited “definitive” edition has been published and specified as required reading for at least one Michigan school district.  Among the extra material included in this newer edition is a graphic description of Anne’s “…discovery of her genitals,” her emerging sexual desires, and her portrayal of her mother and other people living together.  According to a news article, one mom has called it “pornographic” after her uncomfortable seventh grader showed her the passages.  The mom is seeking to have the unedited version banned from the school.

In a telling comment on our society, almost none of the other students noticed or cared about the content.

My real problem is not with the merits of the case; but I don’t like how it has been reported.  The “news” article ended with a blatantly editorial opinion:

Meanwhile, parents in Virginia’s Fairfax County lobby to remove Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Beloved” from high school curricula*. Add Horalek’s aversion to Anne Frank’s diary on top of that and it’s almost like parents don’t want their children confronting the more uncomfortable parts of history.

That’s right:  take a stand for morality, and you will be accused of being an ignorant bigot unwilling to face the reality of history.

Let me close with this analogy to draw the distinction that the reporter seems unwilling to recognize:  I have no objection to students learning about Henry VIII beheading some of his wives; but I don’t want them reading detailed accounts of his honeymoons.  Both are aspects of historical reality, but only one meets a standard of decency that needs to be revived in our schools and in our culture.


 

*Here is what one blogger wrote with regard to Beloved.  Notice the same disdain for morality displayed in the news article.  Warning! Even the summary here is more offensive than young people need to be exposed to.

Beloved contains incest, rape, pedophilia, graphic sex, extreme violence, sexual abuse, physical/emotional abuse, infanticide, and an extensive amount of profanity. The first two chapters contain five references to sex with cows in addition to other types of sex.
They cite violence and sex, but I suspect the real reason behind continuing challenges to Beloved is that it confronts us with our sins.

By the way, the same blogger whose writing was presented as news in the main article above, previously wrote about the controversy over Beloved.  The headline says it all:

Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved’ is simplistic pornography, say two Michigan parents who don’t appear to be very smart  BY Alexander Nazaryan

Nuff said.

 

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