A school in Idaho caved to religious parents who found a sentence in the book which challenged the notion that masturbation is a sin offensive.
Mountain View High school had originally included “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie as part of their required reading list, but some parents protested and successfully got it removed (it’s currently being reviewed by the school board). The parents claimed it was too sexual for their 10th graders and that the book had an anti-Christian message.
For reference, here is the line that parents found scandalous:
‘If God hadn’t wanted us to masturbate, then God wouldn’t have given us thumbs.”
While many parents shrugged and argued, not without reason, that an American 10th grader has almost certainly been exposed to something more licentious than that even on network television, the vocal minority won out.
So one student, Brady Kissel, went to a local park next to the school, an area that is not controlled by the school, and started handing out free copies of the book to students. You go, Brady.
That inspired high school Junior Brady Kissel to take a bunch of copies of the book over to a nearby park and start handing them out for free to interested students.
Local religious parents got wind of this and sought to control Brady by calling the local police. Sadly for them, it turns out giving away free copies of books and offending the delicate sensibilities of the faithful are not against the law:
After about an hour, police showed up. They said they had been called by a concerned citizen who were upset that the books were available to the teens without a parent’s permission.
After talking to Kissel, they concluded that there is nothing illegal with handing out books in a park, even ones that use the word “masturbate,” and they left without further action.
Love of knowledge, passion for imagination…these are parts of our humanity. Christianity has proven powerful at suppressing them over the years, but with every generation we become more comfortable defying the taboos of religious institutions. I am happy to see our youth casting away the threats of the faithful – especially when it’s because they are dedicated to education and freedom of expression.