Notes from around the Human Experience…
OH, I WISH I WAS IN DIXIE, HOORAY!: The headline about a Mississippi school district deciding to return the landmark book To Kill A Mockingbird to its eighth-grade curriculum caught our eye, but it took a second for the full impact to hit:
People are still banning books!
Earlier this month the Biloxi School District had removed To Kill A Mockingbird from its eighth-grade curriculum after receiving complaints about the language – particularly the use of the n-word – used in it. The book is about racism in the Deep South, so it is not unreasonable to expect the n-word to make an appearance or two. As it is, it makes several dozen appearances in To Kill A Mockingbird, generally in dialogue.
Of course, not every book should be taught to eighth-graders, but To Kill A Mockingbird has been a staple of American education for decades and rightfully so. We remember being required to read it and you may well remember it, too.
FunFact: The book’s return to the classroom is not without condition. Students must request to be part of the class and must present a signed permission slip. Those who do not want to read To Kill A Mockingbird will be given another book to study.
Dry, Technical Matter: This isn’t the first time To Kill A Mockingbird has been banned. It has happened off and on since it was published in 1960. Last year a Virginia school district took it off its library’s bookshelves, along with the equally subversive The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, after some parents go their shorts in a knot over their use of racial slurs.
LOL: What’s funny is people in the South complaining about the use of the n-word. Maybe some KKK grand wizards complained because it wasn’t used enough. It can’t be because it isn’t used in the South anymore because in some houses the n-word is generally the second word of out of Southern white kid’s mouth, right after ‘mama’.
Get Your Official Daily Dose Policy Right Here: Unless the book is F*ck Me Stud, a kid should not need a parent’s permission to read anything in school. Furthermore, for Southerners especially to get worked over the use of a slur it brought into common usage is silly.
ON THIS DATE! ON THIS DATE! America’s first cross-country highway, the Lincoln Highway, running from New York City to San Francisco, is dedicated on this date in 1913.
The road has been realigned many times, and now mostly – though not entirely – follows US Highway 30 from Philadelphia until meeting Interstate 80 in Wyoming and there are still a variety of businesses along both the current and past routes that still carry Lincoln names.
It’s Not The Heat, It’s The Heat: Marble Bar, Australia has a temperature of over 100 degrees on this date in 1923, the first of a record 160 consecutive days of temperatures above 100F. The town in Western Australia would not have a day without a 100-degree temperature until April 8, 1924.
Well, That Was Nice: Mt Rushmore, featuring 60-foot high carvings of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, is declared finished on this date in 1941. Carving had begun in October 1927 and over 450 workers moved 450,000 tons of rock without anyone dying.
Now You Know: Mt Rushmore was designed by sculptor Gutzon Borglum. He chose Washington and Lincoln because they were two most popular presidents, Jefferson because he doubled the size of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase and Roosevelt because he founded the National Park Service.
We’re Outta Here: Three members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) are freed from Mountjoy Prison in Dublin via helicopter on this date in 1973. The helicopter had been hijacked by two IRA members, with Captain Thompson Boyes instructed to fly to and land in the prison. Guards initially thought the helicopter was ferrying a government official so the prisoners had a head start. The three prisoners climbed aboard and Boyes flew the craft to an abandoned race track, where the IRA members fled in a hijacked taxi.
Oh Yeah: The three prisoners were eventually recaptured and Boyes was not harmed.
Get Out Your History Books: Earth’s population exceeds seven billion people on this date in 2011.
Actually, the day is symbolic. The day was picked by the United Nations based on data from five-year estimates. With the margin of error factored in, it is thought the seven billionth human could have entered the world anytime between March 2011 and April 2012.
Running The Numbers: Earth had passed the six billion mark in 1999 and is expected to pass the eight billion mark in 2027.
Quotebook: There’s no use denying fear – It’s how you handle it that counts. – Caryl Chessman, moments before dying in California’s gas chamber, May 2, 1960
Answer To The Last Trivia Question: Besides appearing as himself and as the narrator, Orson Welles played Professor Richard Pierson in the radio drama The War of the Worlds on October 30, 1938.
Today’s Stumper: When did the world reach a population of one billion people? – Answer next time!