Friday, 21 September 2007

Passive Linkage

  • 'They were being taken advantage of, in a way.' This story, about a teacher who gave his class Dan Clowes' Eightball #22 to read over the summer, and who has resigned amidst a storm of WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN controversy, is a minefield of stupid quotes. My favourite bit comes in the second link, where a worried mother talks about how she became concerned when she found out that the teacher had asked her daughter 'how the book made her feel'. Because he must have been a paedophile, of course -- he couldn't possibly have been trying to engage her as a student or anything. Argh! Jebus, please don't let me become such an asshole if I ever have children. I understand that I'll worry more about these sort of questions if I'm ever a father, but... don't let me shut off my brain entirely. (Links via Eddie Campbell, who seems to have retained his sanity despite fathering three children.)

  • Of course, I do feel sorry for the girl who's being bullied because the students see her as being responsible for this whole fandango. But I also feel sorry for the teacher, who, from this uninformed distance, seems to be guilty of nothing more than trying to give the kids something a bit more adult to read. Worth noting here: books don't come with age ratings, and while few booksellers are likely to provide a five-year-old with a sex guide, kids can still buy tons of relatively racy books without difficulty. Hell, some of these racy books may even be of genuine merritt (just like that Eightball issue!).

  • Go check out this Fluxblog post if you want to hear some more Scout Niblett. Matthew's also got some interesting thoughts on the differences between Scout Niblett and Cat Power, a topic that I touched on in this post.

  • Also: Fluxblog's Matthew writes about Future of the Left and provides a free mp3 of their song 'Adeadenemyalwayssmellsgood' on his Hit Refresh column. Future of the Left's debut album Curses is great, caustic fun, by the way. It contains fourteen tracks of top quality bruise-pop that will please fans of Mclusky, the welsh punk outfit that previously provided an outlet for two thirds of the band.

[Edit: in the name of fairness, here's the mother mentioned in the above news story defending her actions and providing some context. Now: the teacher seems to have acted rather foolishly here, if he did give make the rather clumsy move of giving comic in question to the girl rather than to the class. That said, I still object to the way this situation has played out. Eightball #22 has a couple of crude moments, sure, but they're part of a highly sophisticated and discussion-worthy narrative. I can't help but think that the medium is important here -- visual depictions of sex or nudity leap off the page more obviously than textual ones, or at least more immediately than similar scenes in literary works of roughly the same genre as Eightball #22. On balance, I think my capability for empathy was initially overpowered by the more stupid quotes in those early news stories, which isn't something I feel too proud of. As such I'm glad to have read the mother's take on the situation, but from my obscure vantage point I still think that the parents' reaction was ill-considered and OTT. Which isn't to say that various commentators (myself included) aren't guilty of the same crime, but I've not put anyone out of a job by talking about this. Well, at least not so far. New linkage via David Welsh.]

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