Religious right groups jump at chance to shield members from seeing books

Concerned Women for America and the American Family Association are both urging their followers to think twice about shopping at Amazon.com.

Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos upset the anti-gay activist groups by donating $2.5 million to protect marriage equality in Washington State.

“So long Amazon” was the message from “One Million Moms” (which David Badash, accurately, describes as “the low-cost fundraising and email-harvesting arm of the certified anti-gay hate group, American Family Association”). And CWA noted that its supporters may be “troubled” or “uneasy” about shopping at Amazon — urging them instead to shop through CWA’s own online store.

Neither of these groups expects to influence Amazon one way or another, but that’s not the point here. The point here is that the pretext of protesting Amazon’s support for LGBT rights gives them an excuse to urge their followers to avoid the site.

Because even if Jeff Bezos traded his company to Dan Cathy for a lifetime supply of chicken sandwiches, these groups still wouldn’t want their followers going to Amazon. It’s too much like a library. And you can’t control people who spend too much time in a library. You can’t keep them from asking questions, or satisfy them with only the official answers.

Amazon, in other words, is a threat to the subcultural bubble that these groups must maintain to survive.

* * * * * * * * *

Deanna Pan of Mother Jones wades through the textbooks produced by Bob Jones University Press and Pensacola’s A Beka Books to highlight “14 Wacky ‘Facts’ Kids Will Learn in Louisiana’s Voucher Schools.”

The fundamentalist Christian school I grew up in tried out the A Beka Books one year for science. I can honestly say that I read that book more thoroughly and attentively than any other textbook I’ve ever used.

What happened was, once we students realized that book was riddled with errors, it became a contest to see who could find even more. The contest went on for quite some time, but if I remember correctly the book did include several error-free pages.

The A Beka Book textbook turned out to be a one-year experiment for our school. Neither the textbook, nor the teacher who had championed it, were invited back the following term.

* * * * * * * * *

Speaking of fundamentalist Christian schools … Jesse Curtis reads Joseph Crespino on the rise of the religious right. The latter JC backs up Randall Balmer’s claim that the movement began in the fight for tax-exempt status for the thousands of newly formed private Christian schools that sprang up following Brown v. Board of Education.

The right to create segregated religious schools and to have those schools be tax exempt, they argued, was a fundamental issue of “religious liberty.”

Because it’s never about bigotry. It’s always about “religious liberty.”

* * * * * * * * *

The Punning Pundit muses on the Flustercluck of 2012, and echoes the wisdom of Gamaliel:

If anti-gay bigotry is on the right side of history — if it truly does lead to an increase in the welfare of humanity — then free speech will hasten the day we live in a better world. And if anti-gay bigotry is (as seems obvious) odious and awful, then the ability of bigots to spout off unmolested will bring a swifter end to the terrors they would have unleashed.

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  • Lizzy L

    Because reading, unsupervised, might lead to — thinking.

    Can’t have that.

  • Bnerd

    I love the fact that more people are reading Crespino’s work. I’ve had “In Search of Another Country…” for about four years now and it’s an absolutely judicious work. I’m always shocked by how few people even in my own field (Political Science) know about it. I bought it on a whim because I had become interested in the the realignment of the South after the Civil Rights acts were passed (naturally, it took some time for the realignment to occur fully). I would really recommend it, as it shows that racial resentment was a KEY factor in the realignment. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisnuttall82 Chris Nuttall

    I have a question.
     
    Not too long ago, that guy at Chick-Fil-A donated money to anti-gay groups, which blogs you linked to described as an outrage.  Now the same thing has happened in reverse.  What makes the chicky-guy’s action any more henious than the amazon-guy?
     
    Speaking as a Conservitive myself, I think that the whole issue is pretty stupid.  Do we really want the government defining marraige?
     
    Chris

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Do we really want the government defining marraige?

    For my part, I don’t really care very much who defines marriage.
    I don’t even much care what rights and responsibilities come along with being married, or who defines those, or who enforces them.

    I do care that those rights and responsibilities are available equally to mutually supportive families.

    So if you want to push for a radical shifting of responsibilities such that the government is no longer involved in any of that (which seems like an odd position for a Conservative, but, hey, you’re free to label yourself however you wish), I won’t object.

    But in the meantime, I will push for the government, which is currently responsible for that stuff and has been for over a century, to do it in a way that treats mutually supportive families equally.

  • Nathaniel

     The government already does define marriage.

    And as for the first part of your post:

    “Some people want to boycott South American companies because they support apartheid. Other people have stopped shopping at Target because its run by one of those filthy Jews. See, both sides are the same!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    I really hate that logic. It’s like saying that being a fire fighter is the same as being an arsonist. If you really can’t see the difference between spending money to protect someone’s rights and spending money to curtail them unnecessarily, you’re probably not really considering that person’s rights.

  • Tricksterson

    “Do we really want the government defining marriage?”

    No, which is why DOMA needs to go.  Nice to see that you agree.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The deal is, one person is actively suipporting policies that entrench and strengthen discriminatory social policies, while another is actively supporting policies that entrench and strengthen equality of all people.

    I think one goal is a bit nobler, hmm?

  • ConservativeWhitebread

    Error:  false equivocating.  Please restate the nature of your query.

  • phantomreader42

     Chick-fil-a donated to groups that advocate the mass murder of gay people and the kidnapping of children.  Then they libeled the Muppets.  Then they whined that they (and they alone) have freedom of speech so nobody is ever allowed to say a single word against them ever under any circumstances.  They’re lying, hypocritical supporters of fraud and terrorism.  To my knowledge Amazon has not done anything remotely similar to what chick-fil-a has done. 

  • Jurgan

    I’m gonna take a different tack than the others, and say one difference is that the CEO donated from his personal accounts, while the Chick-Fil-A donations were from the corporate profits.  Personally, I don’t think corporations should be involved in political actions at all, regardless of whether I agree with them.  So, if it were Dan Cathy’s personal money being given, I wouldn’t be bothered as much.

  • connorboone

    Also, the SPLC has defined some of the groups that Cathy has donated to as anti-gay hate groups.  To add insult to injury, those donations are written off as charitable contributions.

    I don’t think contributions to the KKK should be tax-deductible, and I don’t see any problem with organizing a boycott to a hypothetical company that did so until they changed their ways.

    The same applies to Chick-Fil-A.

    Donating to a cause that advances civil rights is in no way comparable to donating to a hate group.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Not too long ago, that guy at Chick-Fil-A donated money to anti-gay
    groups, which blogs you linked to described as an outrage.  Now the same
    thing has happened in reverse.  What makes the chicky-guy’s action any
    more henious than the amazon-guy?
     
    Speaking as a Conservitive
    myself, I think that the whole issue is pretty stupid.  Do we really
    want the government defining marraige?

    The alternative to legal marriage is every couple who wants to mingle their finances and be guaranteed visitation and (if applicable) medical decisionmaking when the other’s in the hospital and have whichever one dies second be guaranteed a share of the first one’s estate and be sure that any children borne by half the couple are legally the children of the other half and so forth and so on draw up their own individual contract assuring all those things.

    I hope the multitude of ways in which that situation would appall, horrify, and hurt people, especially people who don’t know what a legal marriage currently entails (and who therefore wouldn’t be able to say that this must be part of the contract or that that can’t be), are apparent without further explanation.

    (If you meant to say marriage should be a strictly religious thing, fuck that. I’m an atheist. I want to get married. I am absolutely not doing a church wedding.)

    The difference between Dan Cathy, who (as evidenced by his support for the Family Research Council, which opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and supports the Uganda execute-the-gays bill) wants me to lose my job and never get another and die because I’m bisexual and genderqueer, and Jeff Bezos, who (as evidenced by his support for marriage equality) wants me to live as happily with my also-vagina-equipped significant other as my mother and father have for the past quarter century, should also be apparent without further explanation.

  • AnonymousSam

    Let’s not forget the part where Cathy is donating to a group which accuses you, me and most of the people in this blog of wanting to make pedophilia not only legal, but revered.

    There’s lies, damned lies, and fundamentalist bullshit.

  • Baby_Raptor

    And bestiality, and necrophilia. 

  • Tricksterson

    (singing) These are a few of my faaav-or-ite things!

  • Matri

    Now the same thing has happened in reverse

    Publicly donating money to al-Qaeda from a company’s coffers
    vs
    Privately donating money to the Red Cross from one’s personal bank accounts.

    These two are the exact equivalent of your examples. Do you think your “happened in reverse” statement is still the right thing to say?

  • Lori

     

    Not too long ago, that guy at Chick-Fil-A donated money to anti-gay
    groups, which blogs you linked to described as an outrage.  Now the same
    thing has happened in reverse.  What makes the chicky-guy’s action any
    more henious than the amazon-guy?  

    Did you actually read what Fred wrote? He’s not objecting to the boycott per se, he’s highlighting what he believes to be the true motive of the boycott, which is to keep Evangelicals buying from per-selected sources so that they won’t be exposed to books that aren’t approved by the gatekeepers of Evangelical culture.  You can tell, because he said this:

     

    The point here is that the pretext of protesting Amazon’s support for
    LGBT rights gives them an excuse to urge their followers to avoid the
    site. 

    instead of saying something like, “This call for a boycott of Amazon is a terrible thing. It’s economic terrorism and that’s just wrong.” (Which incidentally is exactly the sort of thing Conservatives often say about any boycott of something they like called for by someone they don’t like.)

    Imagine that instead of GLBTQ activists and allies, the boycott against Chick fil A had been called by someone who owns a controlling interest in KFC or Popeyes. Can you see how that would have cast the boycott in a bit different light?

  • Baby_Raptor

    Yup. It’s pretty stupid that a bunch of ponies are working to win rights that the Constitution already gives them. Why are they making such a huge deal?

    If I understand you correctly, you’re asking why giving money to groups that lie, slander, discriminate, break laws and violate peoples’ rights is any worse than giving money to groups that work to make sure everyone has the same rights. 

    If you really need that explained to you…Well, imagine that it was one of your rights that was being systematically denied you, that it was you being regularly slandered and terrorized. Maybe then you’ll get it.

    And yes. The government DOES need to define marriage; it needs to define it in a way where everyones’ rights are protected. Religious people are free to define how they want, but the government shouldn’t be discriminating.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     Not too long ago, that guy at Chick-Fil-A donated money to anti-gay
    groups, which blogs you linked to described as an outrage.  Now the same
    thing has happened in reverse.  What makes the chicky-guy’s action any
    more henious than the amazon-guy?

    Stop for a second and listen up, sparky.  There’s a difference between being a hypocrite and calling out hypocrisy.  What the anti-Amazon folks are doing right now is called “being hypocrites.”  You know how I know that?  Because not so long ago — and by “not so long ago” I mean “last fucking week” — they were busy saying that everyone who was piling on to Chick-fil-A was anti-free speech and, by extension, anti-American.  Because, apparently, boycotting someone because they’re spending money on things you disagree with  is the same thing as violating their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

    And yet, here they are, a freaking week later and they’re boycotting someone for giving money to something they disagree with.  That’s called “hypocrisy.”  Because it’s doing something that you once condemned.  Jesus talked about it, in case you’re wondering.  Also, too, as far as we can tell he coined the goddamn term.

    Oh, and for an extra bit of delicious (pun intended) irony, in this case the people calling for the boycott are doing so while also saying, “Give the money you were going to give to us to them, instead.”  That would be like if, say, KFC was behind the Chick-fil-A boycott and had a Give Money to the Colonel Instead of Dan Cathy Day.  But that’s not how that went down.  The anti-Chick-fil-A stuff was grassroots.  The anti-Amazon stuff, at least this aspect of it, most certainly is not.

    Then again, these are probably the same people who think the Tea Party was a grassroots organization.  So, hey, what’re ya gonna do?

  • SisterCoyote

    What makes the chicky-guy’s action any more henious than the amazon-guy?

    The groups Dan Cathy donated to want to make homosexuality – not even homosexual marriage, but being LGBTQ – illegal. Punishable by law. And when Congress was voting to condemn Uganda’s laws to make being LGBTQ punishable by execution, they lobbied against that condemnation. If you don’t consider that goal heinous, I’m not sure what standards you have for evil, and I don’t think I want to know.

    Do we really want the government defining marraige?

    …the government already defines marriage. By giving out marriage licenses. It has been doing so for a very, very long time. Right now, the government is defining marriage as “between a man and a woman,” and personally, I believe that your statement above is correct. The government has no right to impose such a definition on anyone. That’s why we’re trying to get them to stop.

    As a Conservative (who, I trust, believes in individual liberty), don’t you agree?

  • banancat

    The government* has always defined marriage.  Since you are a conservative, I’ll go out on a limb and assume that you are hilariously misinformed about the history of marriage.  Be glad that I’m in a good mood so I’m not assuming that you’re simply lying or arguing in bad faith.

    *You might have more credibility if you didn’t use vague scare terms like “the government”.  The United States has many governments at many levels.  Where, exactly, do you think that gay marriage should continue to be illegal?  Is it at the federal level?

  • http://twitter.com/Apple_Lollipops AppleLowe

    It’s not the reverse.  If Amazon was donating money to end all marriages then yes it would be a similar situation.  Amazon is donating money to help a minority group have greater access to secular rights.  They are not trying to take away anyone’s rights.  If their donations work you will have the same rights you do now.  Chick-fil-A wants a minority group’s ability to access legal rights to be impeded.  If they get their way your life will continue on in the same way but millions of people will have fewer rights.  Like the right for children to see their dying parent’s in hospitals.  People’s lives will be ruined.  Not the same thing.

    That said the argument about who should define marriage is interesting.  Looking back historically marriage has mostly been secular in nature.  Many people enter into  marriages for secular reasons and there isn’t a single church trying to take away their rights.  People can get married without including any religion at all.  Even religious people have marriages that seemingly ignore religious beliefs all the time.  The rights that come with marriage that are from government bodies are too important for too many people to ignore so arguing for government stepping out of the marriage discussion completely isn’t possible.

    More than that there are churches that believe in marriage equality.  In Canada, where I am, the biggest push for changing the definition of marriage came from churches trying to marry people.  Before the change essentially some religions got to dictate to other churches.  The government changing the definition was actually respecting religious freedom.

  • Tricksterson

    You know something is seriously wrong when the items claiming dinosaurs lived alongside humans and that dragons might have been real are the least stupid and offensive ones on the list.

  • Ima Pseudonym

     Several members of my family have had some experience with A Beka.  My stepfather’s younger brother went from public school to a privately run ACE church school after he started one too many fights at public school (he wound up being homeschooled–after a fashion).  Three cousins went to a private school that used the same books. 

    Anyroad, I was asked to tutor the brother.  My stepfather’s parents didn’t understand my horrified reaction when I read through their son’s textbooks, and went from confused to absolutely livid when I started picking them apart for the many and multitudinous factual errors scattered throughout.  Instead, his mother dug out the family bible and started showing me that all the essentials were there, in that every bible verse and passage cited throughout the texts were correct, and as far as she was concerned, that was what was important. 

    The science textbook was an absolute scream.  You can probably imagine what the history textbooks were like.  All of the ones I saw
    were written almost as if they were aimed at at a reader who read on
    roughly a third grade level (they were supposedly intended for teaching high school
    students).  

    And now our darling governor Bobby Jindal seems hell-bent on happily inflicting them on the entire state I live in.  I’m not exactly encouraged. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/marciepooh Marcella McIntyre

    My mother was headmaster at a (very) small private school (4 teachers for the grades 7-12). The new teacher for History and French for the next year gave her samples of the A Beka books she wanted to use. Mom said ‘not no, but hell no’ to the History books after flipping through one, but thought ‘how can you screw up basic French?” She discovered using Bible passage translations as the primary means to teach a language was probably one way to do it.

  • AnonymousSam

    Speaking of painful conflicts of common sense and religious right…

    Kansas doctor stripped of medical license for not forcing 10 year old rape victim to give birth. Meanwhile, the state of Kansas appears to be coordinating with a domestic terrorist group linked to stalking, harassment, hacking, gross violation of privacy, clinic bombings and murder to prosecute clinic doctors using illegally obtained confidential medical files to implicate the clinic of wrongdoing.

    Shall we start a list of states which have fallen to blatantly corrupt governments? Michigan, Kansas, California…

  • Green Eggs and Ham

    Fundamentalists do rightly fear books and libraries.  Reading will teach you that your pastor knows very little, and then you will ask questions and then you will become a liberal and an atheist.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

     Beka Bookprovides attractive, legible, and workable traditional mathematics texts that are not burdened with modern theories such as set theory.

    I got curious about what exactly New Math was besides the butt of a lot of late ’60s jokes. Turns out that it’s things like non-base-10 math and set theory, exactly what a future computer scientist ought to learn. Not coincidentally, my fondest elementary school math memories are of a few weeks of non-base-10 math, set theory, etc, and I’m a very successful computer scientist. (Though I do recall my teacher saying that even base2 is possible, but not very useful!)

  • PJ Evans

    Turns out that it’s things like non-base-10 math and set theory, exactly what a future computer scientist ought to learn.

    I learned base 7 and base 12. And other stuff, too. The surprise to me is how many of my classmates are in jobs requiring math, when all the ‘experts’ keep saying that New Math was a failure. (Maybe we were lucky and got teachers who knew how to teach it.)

    I’d love to get hold of copies of the textbooks, the earlier versions that were softbound, for junior high and high school.

  • Lori

    At first I couldn’t figure out what A Becka Books would have against non-base-10 and set theory. Did they fail those things in school and now they’re holding a grudge? Is it just that they’re considered “new” and new is bad? Then I remembered that set theory is closely related to formal logic and the situation  became a lot clearer.

    Still have no idea what’s supposedly wrong with non-base-10 so I’m sticking with my grudge theory.

  • Amaryllis

     “Several of [Emily Dickinson’s] poems show a presumptuous attitude
    concerning her eternal destiny…Throughout her life she viewed salvation as a gamble, not a
    certainty.”

    Well, so which is it? If she views salvation as a certainty, it’s presumptuous; if she doesn’t, it’s heretical? Damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t? Bah.

    I reason, Earth is short —
    And Anguish — absolute —
    And many hurt,
    But, what of that?

    I reason, we could die —
    The best Vitality
    Cannot excel Decay,
    But, what of that?

    I reason, that in Heaven —
    Somehow, it will be even —
    Some new Equation, given —
    But, what of that?
    – Emily Dickinson

  • MaryKaye

    New Math is probably why I’m a computational biologist today, because arithmetic bored and annoyed me, but set theory, group theory, non-base-10 numbers!  Neato!  And then I read a science fiction story about AI, and took a college programming course in high school, and off I went.  My junior high self would be *shocked* to know I ended up in a highly mathematical discipline.

    Now it may be true that some New Math educators write stuff that works great for the 1% most talented kids and doesn’t work for the others.  But surely the answer is not to remove all the fun parts.  (It also makes clear how the whole Beka thing is about subculture, not about religion, because there is nothing inherently Pagan about set theory–despite where I ended up.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    According to the book Naming Infinity, there were Russian mathematicians who saw religious implications in set theory, but then, I don’t suppose people who use the Beka curriculum consider Russian Orthodoxy to be entirely Christian.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Maths is part of the culture war now. Really? Maths?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Heck, back in the 1980s there was a kerfluffle between traditionalists who believed the phonics method of teaching English was THE only way to teach it, and this newfangled ‘look and say’ technique was all hogwash.

  • banancat

    This is a major sidetrack but I’m a raving progressive and I still prefer the phonics method.  Learning isn’t just about memorization.  It’s better for kids to memorize a few hundred phonics rules and then string them together than to attempt to memorize thousands of words by sight.  I’d rather teach kids how to figure out a word so they’ll be better prepared when they face a word they haven’t seen or have simply forgotten.

  • Dan Audy

    Phonics has a real problem when people don’t actually say words the way their letters should be pronounced.  The generally accepted estimate is that half the English language can not be pronounced using the basic phonetic rules.  Which half varies greatly across the country as different accents and dialects alter local speaking patterns.  Additionally phonetics is highly reliant on the vocabulary children bring with them when they start learning.  Children from households where they aren’t exposed to reading (typically poorer communities due to lack of resources for books and time for reading) struggle with phonetic approaches while children from high literacy households are slightly better with phonetics but succeed extremely well under either system.

    I think that phonetics is a vital secondary component to reading but instruction in it needs to take place after developing basic word recognition literacy.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    Different kids need different approaches.  I learned by sight really easily, and read several grades above my grade level. 

    Phonics bored the everloving heck out of me because, geez, yes, the “ph” in “elephant” sounds like an “f.” Then I would mentally headdesk and wish I was somewhere else.

    My ex, on the other hand, needed phonics to learn to read.  He would probably have been illiterate if he’d had to figure out what words were which without being able to sound them out.

  • http://redwoodr.tumblr.com Redwood Rhiadra

     Well, ever since them evil mathematicians started saying that the ratio between the circumference and diameter of a circle is the unholy and undoubtedly Satanic 3.14159[…] instead of the God-prescribed value of 3 (see 1 Kings 7:23), well…

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    “So long Amazon” was the message from “One Million Moms” (which David
    Badash, accurately, describes as “the low-cost fundraising and
    email-harvesting arm of the certified anti-gay hate group, American
    Family Association”). And CWA noted that its supporters may be
    “troubled” or “uneasy” about shopping at Amazon — urging them instead to
    shop through CWA’s own online store.

    Does anyone else remember when everyone who likes the idea of giving gay folks equal marriage rights was accused of being un-American because boycotts = hating capitalism = hating America?

    Or am I, just, like, losing my fucking mind here?

  • JonathanPelikan

    You factored out the part of the equation that involved conservative ‘principles’ being something they can claim or dismiss basically on command whenever tactically necessary to stick it to the kenyans and muslims and negroes and libruls, as opposed to what the rest of humanity uses ‘principles’ to mean.

    See: Presidential Authority and Accountability vis a vis Clinton and then W Bush and how their tone changed ever so quickly and effortlessly.

  • Lori

    So, can we talk about “One Million Moms” for a second? Aside from the fact that I’m pretty sure they can’t count, they are such a blatant outrage factory that I can’t figure out how they work, even on their target audience of the umbrage addicted. OMM is POed about some new thing every week. In addition to their current attempt to keep people from buying 50 Shades of Grey they’ve also declared war on Ragu.

    Why are they outraged over spaghetti sauce? Is it the enormous amount of added sugar or the fact that some of the flavors taste like they’re made with ketchup? No, of course not. It’s because Ragu’s latest ad shows  a kid apparently walking in on his parents having sex and recovering from the trauma of it all by later eating a nice spaghetti dinner with said parents.

    No, I am not making that up.

    You can see the commercial here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37JjCU1spAQ&feature=player_embedded

    And this is what OMM’s press release said about it:

    In the newest Ragu commercial, a young boy
    barges into his parents’ bedroom without knocking. We don’t see what he
    sees, but the cringe on his face and wide eyes tell us enough. This boy
    catches his parents in the act and walks away in shock. This entire ad
    not only makes someone lose their appetite, but Ragu is also being
    irresponsible in their new campaign. Instead of being helpful, it is
    harmful to children in the name of so-called humor. The Ragu commercial
    is inappropriate and tacky. The commercial has aired during the Olympics
    when families are likely watching. 

    It seems like at some point all this pearl clutching would hit the law of diminishing returns.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     It seems like at some point all this pearl clutching would hit the law of diminishing returns.

    Yeah.  The trend line for OMM’s pearl-clutching indicates it was most useful some time in 1983.  Or possibly 1953.

  • banancat

    I think it’s all important to point out to certain people that while most of us here think the Amazon boycott is both inane and dishonest, we aren’t making the ridiculous claim that it is somehow infringing on Free Speech (TM).  Million Moms have every right to not buy from Amazon over this.  They’re just bigots for doing so.

    So this is a lot different than CFA where so many people were afraid to openly hate gay people that they had to try to frame it as boycott=censorship.  But I’m not seeing that here.

  • Turcano

    Oh God, BJU/Beka textbooks; that brings back memories.  Stupid, stupid memories.

  • Nenya

    Like Turcano, I’m here to say, “Oh God, A Beka.” The thing was, at the time (we had them for at least a couple of years, in middle school), I didn’t realize they were bullshit. When you’re twelve and you trust your teachers…sigh. I could tell that they had this emotional component to them, and they were trying to make you feel a certain way about what they were teaching. I didn’t have words for “emotional manipulation” or “culture war” then, but that’s one of the first places I saw it. 

    On the other hand–phonics is supposed to be bad, now? What? We had a *fantastic* reading program called “The Writing Road to Reading” where you learned that English has 26 letters but more phonemes than that, and you learned to recognize the likely ways a given set of letters would be pronounced, and the various ways a certain sound might be spelled. This is basic linguistics. I can’t imagine having to learn each word separately. How would you–what would–how does that–I don’t even? 

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    The trouble with phonics is a lack of balance. My youngest brother hit school when phonics was being pushed to the near exclusion of anything else; they skimmed over the “yes, it sounds like this, but it isn’t spelled that way” part and his spelling suffered for it.

  • Lori

    But is that actually a problem with phonics? It seems more like the problem was the “skipping over” bit, not the phonics itself.

    I can’t spell worth a darn and that’s at least partially because the school I went to through the first half of 2nd grade was doing some “just write it how it sounds and we’ll worry about correct spelling later” thing. We moved and at the new school they’d been spelling correctly all along so I never got the instruction that was supposed to create the transition from spell it like it sounds to spell it like it’s spelled. I could read and that’s what mattered to me, so at the critical juncture I sort of bounced off of caring how to spell and never really made up the lost ground.

    I don’t think the lack of that transition in my case necessarily means that the teaching method used by the first school was bad*. It just means that the method required all the parts to work and I missed a really big part.

    *It might be. I don’t remember enough detail about it to judge.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    But is that actually a problem with phonics? It seems more like the problem was the “skipping over” bit, not the phonics itself.

    Like New Math, people seem to have trouble distinguishing between “the way x was taught is bad” and “x is bad”.

  • Aaron

    Can we have an amazon appreciation day?!?!? Oh please, pretty please!!

  • Lori

    Absolutely. I’ll join right after they stop using outsourcing to provide their fantastic customer service by treating the workers who provide the service like crap.

  • banancat

    I honestly, truly think that English should have widespread spelling reform to make it all more consistent.  But this a surprisingly controversial thing because so many people believe that spelling and language use is “right” the way learned it, just because that’s how it is an an authority figure told them that’s right and we’ve been (allegedly) doing it that way for a long time.  I am constantly surprised at how resistant people are to language use, especially spelling that doesn’t change the pronunciation or word order.  I guess it’s something that people can lord over others who make mistakes and feel superior about.  Or I guess there’s some group identity tied into it too somehow.

    I never get mad at people who spell things “wrong” on the internet, especially if it’s a more phonetic or intuitive spelling.  And it’s not just because I’m a hardcore descriptivist.  I really think the more pattern-following spellings are better for a variety of reasons and I hope they catch on and become widespread.  It’s also a relatively easy transition to make because the new spellings will still be understandable to people have learned the “right” way.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    I honestly, truly think that English should have widespread spelling reform to make it all more consistent.

    Two big problems with that:
    1) It’ll make it much harder for us to read things written before the official spelling changed. Which encompasses several hundred years of books.
    2) The pronunciation is highly dependent on which continent you live on. And I, for one, don’t want my spelling changed to match the way people in America pronounce the words I use. Nor do I want a different official spelling on every continent.

  • PJ Evans

     And before the late 19th century (and even after that) people spelled by ear.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    The pronunciation is highly dependent on which continent you live on. And I, for one, don’t want my spelling changed to match the way people in America pronounce the words I use.

    Word. If there was any sort of international standard English forced on us all, of course it would end up being the American preference. Bugger that.

  • banancat

     

    1) It’ll make it much harder for us to read things written before the
    official spelling changed. Which encompasses several hundred years of
    books.

    So we’ll treat those books like they’re in another language and translate them.  English will change and we will face this problem eventually.  We already face it with books written in Latin.  We already face it with books written in English from centuries ago, or even decades ago to some extent.  I don’t like the prescriptivist argument that we need to keep everything the same so we can read everything that is written right now forever.  Our language will change.  My hope is that it changes in a way to make it easier and more intuitive for people to use.

  • Tricksterson

    “Our language will change”

    ITA with u.  ;D

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    So, which would you prefer?

    1) The world institutes an Official New Spelling Of English, and I have to change from spelling words in a way that bears little relation to my speech to spelling words in a whole new way that bears little relation to my speech – because, of course, we simply must base the new spelling on American pronunciation.

    2) The world institutes several Official New Spellings of English, and I suddenly have to treat old spelling like it’s in another language, modern American spelling like it’s in a second language, modern British spelling like it’s in a third language, modern South African spelling like it’s in a fourth language… The only spelling that will bear any resemblance to the way I actually pronounce words will be in the local paper – which I hardly ever read.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     So, um. Am I the only person who thinks that english spelling isn’t actually all that hard? Whenever I see someone’s attempt to reformulate spellings to be “more phonetic”, the words  don’t look like what they sound like, but more like how a small child would mis-pronounce a word.

    (Also, please someone distract me, because my mother-in-law, who is technically liberal, is pontificating on how the only reason america lost its manufacturing jobs is because of “unions getting greedy”)


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