Paid to be Stupid

In an alarming and laughably inane bit of knee-jerk, 21st century political correctness and being out-of-touch with reality, a higher-up in Chicago Public Schools administration last week issued a edict to ban the teaching/reading of Majane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis in high school classrooms. Persepolis is Satrapi’s story of her having grown up in Iran during the time of the Iranian Revolution in the late 70s. It is regarded as an important novel, written with a keen sense of perspective on the profound impact the Revolution had on Majane and the subject people of her country. For any reader, Satrapi’s story is profoundly educational in its ability to at once give insight and commentary on an important part of 20th century world history, and to implicitly implicate any and all extremist regimes.The Revolution resulted in a dramatic change in the lives of the Iranian people, given the new, control-freak fundamentalist restraints on personal freedoms by way of strict religious doctrine. That it is told from the first-hand experiences of a young girl–with wit, style and  remarkable clarity–makes it especially potent empowerment to young readers, particularly the young women who populate high school classrooms, in Chicago and countrywide.

When made aware of the ban on her book, Satrapi expressed shock and dismay, saying that she didn’t meet any previous resistence to the book being included on high school reading lists “even in Texas” (!). The irony that the U.S. is supposedly the largest democracy in the world wasn’t lost on Majane, either. And so why would an administrator in CPS suddenly want to deny the reading/teaching of this important piece of literature? Apparently, in reaction to a couple of isolated complaints about the depiction of a whipping that takes place in the graphic novel–it’s torture!–this administrator, evidently unable to see the world anywhere near as cleary Majane Satrapi, even when Majane was but a very young girl, thought it better to appease the hyper-sensitivities voiced by a nearly non-existant protest “group” than to advance the appreciation of think-for-yourself embracing of personal freedoms voiced in Persepolis.

Fortunately, the real thinkers among faculty and students rose up in opposition, quickly establishing a legitimate and highly visible and vocal protest group armed with righteousness and logical reasoning. The administrator, seemingly able to make important decisions based only on the quantity, rather than the quality of dissenting opinions, reversed course and relented. To save some face, this lame brained but no dount well-paid paper-pusher wants it still withheld from 7th graders until an official assessment of the book’s suitability for such delicate, innocent minds. Why expose them to a depiction of torture? After all, it ‘s not as though they likely encounter any fictional or real accounts of violence, injustice, subjucation, oppression, torture or the like in the mass media!

We’ll see where this rediculous case of making a mountain out a molehill and massively missing the point ends. I hope with the administrator being demoted, or better yet fired. This person has no business being in the business of real education.           

About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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