What Is Appropriate?

I’ve been thinking about censorship and book banning a lot lately. There have been several instances in the last few months that have made me wonder aloud — both in my column and here on Lee’s blog, both in the comments and during a previous guest-hosting stint a few weeks back — about the reasons behind this upswing. In a comment regarding last week’s note about the English teacher in Wisconsin being castigated for teaching mystery fiction, I said that I thought some of it had a correlation to the recent election and its outcome and at least one regular reader of this blog disagreed, which means others probably did as well. In some cases, there is an obvious bias involved in the request that books be banned or censored — like the whacko the fine citizens of Alabama have representing them who thinks books featuring gay characters and/or themes should be removed from public and university libraries — and other times it appears to be an issue of parents fearing that their children will be ruined if exposed to thoughts and ideas that run contrary to what they are being taught at home.  Lately, this has meant that things involving homosexuals, violence, sex, suicide and drug use are verboten.

So if books containing these things are not appropriate for a 15, 16, 17 or 18 year old to read, what is? What is safe for a teenager? Sweet Valley High? What is worse — a book the distorts reality — like Sweet Valley High or books of its ilk — or books that deal with reality? As a child, my mother always encouraged me (and Lee and our sisters Linda and Karen) to read whatever we wanted and I did. I’d read all the Spenser novels in print by the time I was 13. I read every Stephen King novel in print by the same time. I also read things like Seth Speaks  and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and whatever odd novel was left sitting around the house (like, uh, Jonathan Livingston Seagull for instance) and I’d venture to say that I turned out okay. I don’t have children, but I know many of you do. So tell me: What is appropriate? And what is an inappropriate book for a teenager to read? (If you want some idea about what PABBIS [Parents Against Bad Books In Schools] believes the answer is to the latter, check this out…oh no, kids want to read 100 Questions and Answers About AIDS!)

Tod

Keeping The Place Warm While Lee Sips Boat Drinks

As a child, I was often admonished by a certain older brother that I was not to:

1. Go in his room when he wasn’t home.

2. Touch his stuff (which meant, basically, the stacks of TV Guides, over played Knack albums and his novel-in-progress…which was about an underwater sperm lab if memory serves me correct).

3.  Mess up the Stratego board (Lee played A LOT of Stratego back in the day).

Cut to 25 years later, and here I am touching everything. It feels excellent. So, until Lee gets back, I rule this blog! I will play "My Sharona" all night! I will knock over his stacks of TV Guides and I will re-write his novel!

In the meantime, should you wish to contact me, send all hate mail, queries, odd questions , naked pictures of Cylons and/or naked pictures of me to TodGoldberg@TodGoldberg.com

I’m Not Incoherent — an apology

You may have noticed in some of my recent posts and comments that my typing sucks… not to mention my proofreading. Please forgive me… my typing skills still haven’t recovered from my accident and my sloppy proofreading, well, that’s a byproduct of dashing off these blog entries between working on scripts and books… and then not looking back. Please forgive me…I’m not nearly as incoherent as I may appear…

Lee