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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Book-banning bill dies in Ariz. Senate

    PHOENIX – Students facing intricate passages in novels detailing lurid sex scenes, graphic depictions of violence or morally objectionably material still have only two choices when it comes to what’s assigned in class: to read it or to hope it’s not on the test.

    The Senate killed a controversial bill yesterday that would have mandated an option of alternative coursework for students who find their assigned coursework objectionable.

    Sen. Thayer Verschoor, R-Mesa, rewrote the bill so only materials describing “”sexual activity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, sadomasochistic abuse or nudity in a patently offensive way”” would be deemed as objectionable. The original language was broad, covering any material that students might object to due to their personal beliefs about sex, morality or religion.

    But Sen. Carolyn Allen, R-Scottsdale, said Verschoor’s bill did not go far enough, asking “”patently offensive to whom?”

    Allen used the example of Mark Twain’s “”Huckleberry Finn”” as offensive to some, who would object to the use of the word “”nigger”” throughout the classic novel.

    “”(Twain) was making a point about the South, about discrimination and about people of color,” Allen said.

    Sen. Jim Waring, R-Phoenix, holding the novel “”The Color Purple”” by Alice Walker in his hand, said a graphic depiction of incest made him sick to his stomach to read. He said the passage was important to the novel and dared legislators to label the book as smut.

    Waring then used the example of Ralph Ellison’s “”Invisible Man”” as an example of assigned coursework that has no alternatives. He said the 1952 novel, detailing the racism Ellison experienced in his life, should not be discounted because it includes a graphic, eight-page passage about incest.

    “”The book changed a lot of minds,”” said Waring. “”We can learn a lot from reading this book.””

    Verschoor said he wrote the bill after an unnamed student at Chandler-Gilbert Community College objected to having to read a novel for an English class because he said he found the work to be pornographic.

    The novel was Rick Moody’s “”The Ice Storm.”” The novel graphically details the lives of two fictional struggling families in the 1970s and has passages chronicling the decisions made by adults and children alike as they experiment with sex and drugs. The book includes a vivid description of a “”key party,”” where adults at a party choose their sexual partners by pulling a key out of a bowl.

    Despite the bill’s defeat, Verschoor wouldn’t rule out introducing similar, or even identical, legislation later in this year’s legislative session.

    He said there was a possibility he would team with Waring to offer a bill that would require all syllabi to offer warnings that course material could be considered offensive by some.

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