Thursday, 18 June 2015

Why I am against Censorship, part 4,367: Comic Books

Sigh. Why do people want to ban things? Why has it become the default response to any material that someone finds offensive? 

Universities, as it has been pointed out many times, are places of learning. Yet they are becoming places where any challenge to a student's belief is seen as objectionable. 

Here's the latest: in the USA, a student called Persepolis 'garbage' and 'pornography'. That's Persepolis, which was made into a film, with a 12 rating. While garbage is a relative description - based on aesthetic rather than moral standards - pornography is usually that stuff that gets made into films with an 18 rating, or short episodes on the internet.

Let's rake the coals on this little episode. 

A 20-year-old college student in Yucaipa, California is protesting the inclusion of four landmark graphic novels in an English class that she took during the recently-finished Spring 2015 semester at Crafton Hills College.

Note: she is 20 years old. So why, later in the article, does her dad turn up and give his tuppence worth?

Her father Greg Shultz said that “if they (had) put a disclaimer on this, we wouldn’t have taken the course.” Tara Shultz agreed, saying that Bartlett “should have stood up the first day of class and warned us.”

Was Greg enrolled on the course, too?  Or is a twenty year old student really expecting her father's opinion to matter?

According to the Redlands Daily Facts newspaper, Tara Shultz and her parents object to Persepolis, Fun Home, Y: The Last Man Vol. 1, and The Sandman Vol. 2: The Doll’s House as “pornography” and “garbage.”

Shultz, who is working towards an Associate of Arts in English at the public community college, signed up for English 250: Fiction because it fulfills one part of her degree requirements

Okay: Persepolis not be to everyone's taste (and Y: The Last Man is not to mine), but the idea that any book on a University curriculum can be dismissed as 'garbage' is disappointing. Yes, I know there have been critiques that Universities have been responsible for building a cannon of works that tend to be 'dead, white and male', and that the curriculum is not immune to revision... however...

She was apparently aware that the specific focus of the class was graphic novels, but she told the newspaper that “I expected Batman and Robin, not pornography.” Shultz says that Associate Professor Ryan Bartlett, who has taught the course for three terms without any other complaints, failed to adequately warn students about the books’ content. 

I expected Batman and Robin. 

In other words, I thought that comics were not a medium but a genre. 


I suggest that Shultz has a peek at Frank Millar's Batman. It might be a little more on the pornographic side than an autobiography of a woman escaping the Iranian revolution. 

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