Skip to comments.Comment: 'Handmaid's Tale' characterized unfairly by its opponents [San Antonio]
Posted on 04/12/2006 11:44:39 AM PDT by Racehorse
An open letter to the Judson Independent School District:
First, I would like to thank those who have dedicated themselves so energetically to banning my novel, "The Handmaid's Tale." It's encouraging to know the written word is still taken so seriously.
That thought aside, I would like to congratulate the students, parents and teachers who have supported the use of my book in Advanced Placement courses. They have aligned themselves against the censors, book-banners and book-burners throughout the ages and have stood up for open discussion and a free expression of opinion which, last time I looked, was still the American way, though that way is under pressure.
I would also like the comment on the objections to the book that have been made. The remark "offensive to Christians" amazes me why are some Christians so quick to see themselves in this mirror?
Nowhere in the book is the regime identified as Christian. It puts into literal practice some passages from the Bible, but these passages are not from the New Testament. In fact, the regime is busily exterminating nuns, Baptists, Quakers and so forth in the same way the Bolsheviks exterminated the Mensheviks. The only person who says anything Christian is the heroine herself. You will find her own version of the Lord's Prayer at the end of Chapter 30.
As for sexual explicitness, "The Handmaid's Tale" is a good deal less interested in sex than is much of the Bible. Leaving aside the Song of Solomon, there's quite a bit of sex rape, incest of various kinds, seduction, lust, prostitution, public intercourse on a rooftop with one's father's concubines and more. One of the things that makes the Bible such a necessary book is its refusal to throw a lace tablecloth over this kind of behavior.
The sexual point in my book would seem to be that all totalitarianisms try to control sex and reproduction one way or another. Many have forbidden interracial and interclass unions. Some have tried to limit childbirth; others have tried to enforce it. It was a common practice for slave owners to rape their slaves for the simple purpose of making more slaves. And so on.
The other point would be that the free choice of a loved one when denied by a regime or a culture is going to happen anyway, though under such conditions it will be both brave and dangerous. I give you Romeo and Juliet. Also, when marriage itself has been made into a travesty, talk of sex within the bonds of marriage becomes simply fatuous.
Two last thoughts. First, I put nothing into my book that human beings have not already done. It's not a pretty picture, but it's our picture, or part of it. Second, if you see a person heading toward a huge hole in the ground, is it not a friendly act to warn him?
Again, I congratulate you and wish you well. Your thoughtfulness and courage have set an example well worth following.
A San Antonio-area school superintendent has pulled a critically acclaimed novel after a parent complained it was sexually explicit and offensive to Christians.
Judson school district superintendent Ed Lyman pulled "The Handmaid's Tale" by Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood from the district's Advanced Placement English curriculum.
In doing so, he overruled the recommendation of a committee of teachers, students and a parent. The committee is appealing the decision to the school board, which is scheduled to meet tonight.
The 1985 novel is a story of an environmentally blighted United States after a coup. Civil war rages as a fundamentalist Christian regime revokes all women's rights and presses the few who remain fertile into sexual slavery.
Lyman says he found some of the descriptions in the book too sexually explicit for high school students. That -- he says -- doesn't support state efforts to encourage sexual abstinence outside marriage.
March 23, 2006 Judson Pulls "The Handmaid's Tale" from Curriculum
If books, plays and short stories presented characters without blemishes and life without hardships the great libraries of the world would be warehouses for the innocuous.
In the Judson Independent School District, some enlightened students and school board officials realized that, and they stood up on Thursday night.
School board members voted to reinstate a novel, "The Handmaid's Tale," which the superintendent had removed from the Advanced Placement curriculum after a parent condemned its "sexually explicit" content.
The science-fiction novel depicts a harsh future in which "handmaids" are used for breeding.
Cindy Pyo, the parent who complained, was right to express her concerns, but by removing the book from the curriculum, the superintendent placed the complaints of one individual above the students who endorse the novel.
March 27, 2006 Editorial: Judson makes right call, restoring book to class
I've not read the novel. If it reads anything like the movie, I would not have finished it anyway.
Of course sensitive Margaret would never write anything so intolerant about Islam.
> Men suck.
(Mandatory "Well, in San Francisco" joke hereby redacted)
Atwood had the women in her novel wear burquas. I just remembered.
Well aren't you the clever girl?
Of course the book shouldn't be banned. It should be used in classrooms as an example of shitty feminist polemic selling itself as high-minded literature.
Even as a mere sci-fi dystopia, it still sucks. It's just not good.
> Margaret would never write anything so intolerant about Islam.
Margaret didn't write that. Some reporter did.
If this jewel of the "All men [especially Christian men]are pigs" genre hadn't made it to the big screen, it would be a series on LIFETIME TV for Women.
Another feminazi whiney whiner.
A few weeks ago it was G A Proulx whining about losing the academy award for her Brickhouse Mountain.
I just love what you said. I had to do an independent feminist study in college and one of her books was on the list...forgot the name of it...maybe the one I'm thinking of was Lessing's.
Anyway, the main character had no name, and she was the only one without a name. The whole time I suffered through it, not able to put my finger on what was wrong with it. When I realized everyone else had a name, I felt like a total Schmoe for reading it!
You are right. The book is only "acclaimed" by feminazis. It is part of their agenda.
The premise of the book can easily be countered. I don't think it's too political for AP English. However, I think there are many better choices.
As what someone once called me "A First Amendment fundamentalist," I get so weary of these self-righteous writers who leap to claim the label of "Banned!" to grab some attention.
I would not have pulled this book from the school, but it's amusing to me how liberals like Atwood call parents deciding what happens in THEIR SCHOOL SYSTEM "banning books". If I were to teach a class and decided I didn't like the message or tone of this book, would I be "banning" it? No--but I would be The Teacher, and thus I have the Holy Power to "ban" as I see fit. Have parents make that decision for THEIR kids in THEIR school? Censors! Book banning!
Atwood can't pull off the "Who, ME? Ha Ha Ha!" pose as well as she thinks. Her book was meant as an attack on the Christian Right as she perceived it then, and the move to restrict abortion. Her coy "you see yourselves in this mirror" crap is annoying and if I were a parent I'd toss her books out of my school just because she's being just another Canadian lib wagging her finger at those silly American middle class folks, the favorite sport of the elite. Maggie's social calendar was probably a little barren before now but she can look forward to getting invited to all the right parties starting this weekend, yeah!
Her artsy books may be stylistically right for her social set, but in my experience the women who love her books have massive problems relating to men. From her silly little note, Margaret has problems relating to anyone without her narrow view of the world.
P.S. The book is awful, I bailed on it partway through and rented the movie. Wish I hadn't wasted my time seeing Bob Duvall play a wacko Christian.
Someone needs to tell Ms. Atwood about the dangers of hyperventilating like this.
Then she needs to be told that the excludion of a book from a particular coarse is not censorship, or book-banning, or book burning. There is no end to the number of books in the world; only a few can be examined in any course.
I have not read Ms. Atwood's novel; but if this sample of her writing is any indication, there are probably good reasons not to include her book.
If you want on or off this list, let me know.
The academically well-respected Marxist historian and authority on New World slavery, Eugene D. Genovese, exposed this old wives' tale as pure propaganda decades ago.
"I read this book many years ago."
Thomas Sowell has already destroyed this argument. These "banned" books can be bought in any bookstore. They will be happy to order it for you if they do not have a copy in stock.
When the left says that a book is banned, what they mean is that some annointed elites in education choose a book for school and parents objected and overruled them. More generally, what they are saying is that parents should not have a say in educating their children. Leave it to the annointed (and the government).
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