Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | September 23, 2013

List of Links for Monday: Banned Books, High School, Voting Rules, and Switzerland

Malbaie River in Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie National Park, Quebec, Canada

1. Since it is Banned Books Week, I suppose it is appropriate that a county board of education in North Carolina has banned Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man from all Randolph County Schools libraries:

By a 5-2 margin, the Randolph County Board of Education voted Monday night, at its regular meeting held at Eastern Randolph High School, to remove all copies of the book from school libraries.

The action stems from a Randleman High School parent’s complaint about the book. Committees at both the school and district levels recommended it not be removed.

Voting in favor of the ban were Board Chair Tommy McDonald and members Tracy Boyles, Gary Cook, Matthew Lambeth and Gary Mason. Voting against the action were Board Vice Chair Emily Coltrane and member Todd Cutler…

There was little discussion after the board was presented with the Central Services Committee recommendation concerning the parent’s complaint about the book. All board members had been supplied with copies of the book last month to read.

McDonald asked if everyone had read the book, stating, “It was a hard read.”

Mason said, “I didn’t find any literary value.” He also objected to the language in the book. “I’m for not allowing it to be available.”

Cutler asked if there were other options to which Catherine Berry, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, replied that there were other choices. She also explained that the book is on the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s list of suggested supplemental works for high school students.

I would call the board majority “Philistines,” but that would be an insult to that noble and accomplished race. Shame on Tommy McDonald. Shame on Gary Mason. Shame on Tracy Boyles, Gary Cook, and Matthew Lambeth. May “book-banner” appear prominently in Google searches for all of them. May this vote haunt them.

(Incidentally, the supposed “N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s list of suggested supplemental works” is quite elusive and has at the moment defeated by Googling efforts.)

2. John Sides at the Monkey Cage: “Will the Media Treat Navy Yard Like Newtown?”

3. Also at the Monkey Cage, Joshua Tucker has a good post summarizing and analyzing this past weekend’s referenda voting in Switzerland.

4. Steve Saideman looks at the dynamics of first-past-the-post elections with more than two candidates (as a way of explaining some of the Emmys): “let me explain the importance of the ‘drunk frat brother’ voter here. When you have more than two candidates running for one spot and the winner is the one that gets a bare plurality of votes, then you can get strange outcomes, like Jesse the Body Ventura becoming Governor of Minnesota with 37% of the vote. In many-sided elections, really small swings can matter a great deal, leading to outcomes where 2/3’s of the electorate may have voted for someone other than the winner.”

6. Josiah Neeley: the Science of Hippie-Punching.

6. Clarissa on high school and college: “Professors want to teach interesting, complex courses. It’s normal to want to come to class and discuss your research with people who are at least somewhat equipped to understand what you are talking about. The absolute majority of students, however, is in need of intense remedial learning. One can barely get anybody to enroll in advanced courses while enrollments in the classes that teach the basics are exploding. The Bachelor’s degree has become what a high school diploma should be. … The college system we have in place arose in response to the breakdown of the system of secondary education. The number of schools that manage to prepare students for college is tiny and it seems to be shrinking. The rest of the graduates come to college lacking the most basic knowledge and have to dedicate the first two or three years of their Bachelor’s studies to catching up. We keep pretending that college and high school are two completely different worlds. This pretense will end up destroying higher education in this country unless we wake up already and take a peek beyond the walls of the ivory tower.”

7. Thoreau: “Our Maximum Leader, Barack Hussein Liberal Jesus Prize-Winning Man Of Peace Obama, has extended the state of emergency for another year.”

8. Ten things not to say to a pregnant woman.

9. Star Trek: The Next Generation crew members wearing uniforms from the Original Series.

Image Credit: Malbaie River in Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie National Park, Quebec, Canada. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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