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A heckler’s veto October 16, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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That was the best line in a Thibodeaux, La. Daily Comet article on the decision by Central Lafourche High School to ban reading of the book “Black Hawk Down”, citing profanity. Tenth grade teacher Jared Foreman assigned the book to “spur student interest in reading.” The decision was handed down by Principal Jimmy Ledet on Oct. 3, the last day of the 27th Annual Banned Book Week.

Foreman said the students were a little shocked when the principal asked that they return their copies to the school library. He said students were half way through the book and many had told him it “was really getting good.”

Apparently, a single parent complained after the students were halfway through to book, even through the teacher sent a disclaimer letter to parents and posted a notice on the school’s parent information website.

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director of the office for intellectual freedom for the American Library Association, told the Daily Comet, “…one parent has made the decision for the entire community that this book should not be read in class. It is like a heckler’s veto.”

The Comet story concludes with:

Just before the students returned the books, Foreman said his class marched to the school’s flagpole and sang “The Star Spangled Banner” as a group.

“I wanted them to remember they had to return a book due to censorship,” he said.

I wonder how many of these delicate children waltzed into the R-Rated film based on the book unchallenged, or brought it home from the video store? At least the school system is prepared, on the word of one parent, to protectthem from the sort of speech they might otherwise be exposed to by, say, watching cable television.

I can’t tell you how proud I feel that Louisiana did not disappoint in finding an opportunity to ban a book during Banned Books Week. It’s good to keep the brand out there, as our mayor well knows.

I set out to find a copy of Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War
to read that week. I’ve never read it, and as a Catholic School survivor I thought I might find it interesting, but I struck out in the first two book stores I checked. I had to settle for reading Judge John Woolsey’s decision in the obscenity case against James Joyce “Ulysses”, since it’s been laying by my bedside reminding me I did not manage to get through it last June.

Perhaps Louisiana’s Poet Laureate may be willing to speak out against this sort of thing. Oh, wait, we still don’t have one. Never mind.

h/t to His Yellowness Jeffery for calling this one out.

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Planning To Fail August 20, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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When first proposed by the Bring New Orleans Back commission in late 2005, the idea of “shrinking the city’s footprint” was overwhelmingly by the citizens of New Orleans. This has not prevented the city and it’s hired technocrats from proceeding to do everything in their power to shut off entire neighborhoods from the recovery.

Blogger Eli of We Could Be Famous has followed the Recovery School District Facility Master Plan process as closely as anyone could, given that there was virtually no opportunity for public input. Read what he has to say about the Facilities Master Plan and the decision taken (essentially in secret) to cut back on schools in impacted areas. People follow their churches and schools home, as has been amply demonstrated. This plan is just another attempt to push through the BNOB footprint plan under cover of doing something else.

Read what he says about the decision to propose no schools for Gentilly, Mid-City or the East:

Planners believe that services must be improved to better serve the most populated areas after the storm. This is not an improper calculation by itself but becomes regressive when one considers the practical consequences of this seemingly rational policy. In order to receive money, attention, and services a neighborhood has to prove it’s viability through re-population estimates and projections. Sections of the city that were more severely damaged during the storm obviously repopulate at a slower pace and therefore do not qualify as viable neighborhoods and are subsequently enshrined as poor investments. Thus, it is the neighborhoods that did not flood (generally better-off socioeconomically) that are being provided the lion’s share of recovery dollars. Neighborhoods that sustained heavier flooding (generally worse-off socioeconomically), are not seen as having a large enough population to necessitate things like roads, schools, public transportation, police, and hospitals.

If you don’t agree that entire neighborhoods should be abandoned by Fiat of an unelected cabal of our “betters”, I suggest you contact the BESE Board immediately. With most of the School Board on their way out, there’s probably not much chance of getting them to vote again. Let the BESE Board know that this plan is inconsistent with the citizen’s clearly communicated intent for the future of New Orleans.

Oh, and check out Leigh’s guest post at BlogOfNewOrleans.com for another take on the master plan. And as she suggests, read every post on E’s blog tagged Recovery School District or RSD. After reading the pieces quoted above, start here.

NOLA Bloggers find missing cranes on city skyline August 11, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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Cranes, you bastard. You promised us cranes. Well, we’re ready to deliver where Ed “Bicycle Pants” Blakely cannot. We got your cranes on the skyline.

Graphic by Greg Peters.

Here’s your rolling reminder about Rising Tide 3: John Barry, author of the definitive work on the 1927 Mississippi River flood; Lee Zurik together with the bloggers who broke the NOAH story; the inside dope on the massive uncontrolled experiment on involuntary child subjects called our post-Flood educational system, eats from the restaurateur/bloggers from J’Anita’s. Aren’t you registered yet? Social 8/22 in the evening at Buffa’s. Conference 8/23 a the Zeitgeist Cultural Center. Volunteer work 8/24.