MI Mother: Anne Frank’s Diary ‘Pornographic’


A mother in Northville, Michigan has filed a formal complaint demanding that her daughter’s middle school not have students read the diary of Anne Frank because it’s “pornographic.” But don’t worry, she’s not a prude who’s trying to shelter her daughter or anything.

Mom, Gail Horalek, has filed a formal complaint against her daughter’s school district over its use of the Anne Frank Diary, saying that many of the passages contained in the book are way to graphic for seventh graders like her daughter.

The mother highlights one part of the book in which Frank discusses discovering her genitalia, and Horalek has said it is akin to pornography, and is completely inappropriate for her child and her schoolmates.

I’ve got news for you, lady: If your daughter is in the 7th grade, she’s already discovered her own genitalia too.

Horalek has now demanded that the book be removed from the curriculum: “It doesn’t mean my child is sheltered, it doesn’t mean I live in a bubble and it doesn’t mean I’m trying to ban books.”

Oh no, of course not. I bet you even have friends who have genitalia.

Comments

  1. Sassafras says

    “Just because I’m trying to have books banned doesn’t mean I’m trying to ban books.”

  2. says

    “Just because I’m trying to have books banned doesn’t mean I’m trying to ban books.”
    Exactly. She is only trying to ban book. Singular. One book. Totally different.

  3. says

    I’ve got news for you, lady: If your daughter is in the 7th grade, she’s already discovered her own genitalia too.

    I always liked Henry Rollins’ comeback to one mother who complained about her son being exposed to Janet Jackson’s nipple on TV: “are you kidding? when you’re asleep your son is downloading the ‘goat show’ videos from that website in Amsterdam, and makes money selling DVDs of it to his classmates, which he then spends on drugs.”

  4. says

    “Just because I’m trying to have books banned doesn’t mean I’m trying to ban books.”

    “It’s not book-banning when I do it.”

  5. dingojack says

    One wonders if she lets her daughter’s genitalia use her bathroom?
    :) Dingo

  6. Jeremy Shaffer says

    “It’s not book-banning when I do it.”

    The only moral book- banning is my book- banning.

  7. iknklast says

    She better not let her daughter read the Bible. Genitalia are all over that book! 1000 foreskins? Zipporah performing an emergency circumcision to save Moses when God tries to kill him? The Song of Solomon? Ban it! Ban it! (Note: I am not encouraging banning the Bible; in fact, I think the world would be a better place if Christians would actually begin reading more of their book than the select few verses they’ve got bookmarked and thumbed over).

  8. raven says

    I heard of one case where creationist parents stormed into the school and complained that the teacher taught that the sun shines by nuclear fusion.

    Apparently creationists have some other explanation involving angels or something.

    Not sure what the schools do in these cases, nuclear fusion denialists and Anne Frank’s diary.

    On one hand, you feel like telling the parents to grow a brain. But the real victim is the kid, who is in real danger of being warped for life and set up to fail. Fundies set their kids up to fail a lot. And then they fail.

  9. Chiroptera says

    A mother in Northville, Michigan has filed a formal complaint demanding that her daughter’s middle school not have students read the diary of Anne Frank because it’s “pornographic.”

    Pornographic? Why? Was her daughter aroused when reading the passage?

  10. says

    She is only trying to ban book. Singular. One book. Totally different.

    Yep. And it’s totally different in exactly the same way for each individual book she tries to get banned.

  11. Abby Normal says

    I’m sorry class, we will be discontinuing our study of The Diary of Anne Frank. In its place we will now be studying Reading Lolita in Tehran. It covers much of the same major themes. As you read keep an eye out for examples of oppression, secrecy, community, and the roll of literature in a free society.

  12. DrewN says

    I’m not that up to date on my fundamentalist code words. Am I right in assuming that “discovering her genitalia” is a euphemism for masturbation?

  13. raven says

    Not sure what the schools do in these cases, nuclear fusion denialists and Anne Frank’s diary.

    On one hand, you feel like telling the parents to grow a brain. But the real victim is the kid, who is in real danger of being warped for life and set up to fail. Fundies set their kids up to fail a lot. And then they fail.

    Well, no one yet has an answer.

    One solution would be to just let the mother redact her daughter’s copy of Anne Frank with a razor blade. Just give her the book and a razor blade and let her cut out all the pornagraphic parts. I’m sure her daughter won’t mind or even wonder what all the blank spots are in the book.

  14. dingojack says

    shorter Gail Horalek: ‘The Anne parts are fine, it’s just the frank bits…’
    Dingo

  15. Johnny Vector says

    Lofgren:

    Getting a book removed from the curriculum is not banning it.

    You remind me of a rude-waiter bit Letterman did once a long time ago…

    Customer: Hey, you put your finger in my drink!
    Waiter: It wasn’t my finger, it was my thumb.

    She is asking for it to be banned from the curriculum. Legalistic quibbles about the precise meaning of ban are nothing but plonkfood.

  16. mobius says

    @1 Sassafras

    Exactly the comment that occurred to me when I finished reading her statement.

  17. says

    Just give her the book and a razor blade and let her cut out all the pornagraphic parts.

    How would she know which parts are pornographic? What if what turns her on is different from what turns her daughter on? Maybe her daughter was enjoying the parts about Anne Frank examining her genitalia but the mother is getting off on the parts about the Nazi jackboots..?

  18. lofgren says

    She is asking for it to be banned from the curriculum. Legalistic quibbles about the precise meaning of ban are nothing but plonkfood.

    I disagree. There are a shitload of books I wouldn’t want taught as part of a middle school curriculum, including many that I would have no problem reading to my own daughter or allowing her to read on her own. Does that mean I want them “banned?” Only if “banned” is a word without meaning.

    Liberals don’t want Of Pandas and People taught as part of the curriculum. Liberals are trying to ban books!

    Yeah, this is just an idiotic assertion.

  19. dingojack says

    The whole rounding-up millions of Jews and working them to death or gassing them is absolutely fine –
    but genitals, [clutches pearls] how obscene!!
    @@
    Dingo

  20. raven says

    What if what turns her on is different from what turns her daughter on?

    No one said raising kids was easy!!!

    Besides, she can always ask god’s self appointed representatives on earth, a minister or priest or whatever. Although, priests would be kind of risky, they being occasionally rather kinky.

  21. drr1 says

    Modusoperandi @ 16:

    Hilarious. You get a shiny new Internet to add to your already-substantial collection.

  22. Ben P says

    She better not let her daughter read the Bible. Genitalia are all over that book! 1000 foreskins? Zipporah performing an emergency circumcision to save Moses when God tries to kill him? The Song of Solomon? Ban it! Ban it! (Note: I am not encouraging banning the Bible; in fact, I think the world would be a better place if Christians would actually begin reading more of their book than the select few verses they’ve got bookmarked and thumbed over).

    Speaking of pornography in the bible. Ezekiel 23:19

    “19 Yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the days of her youth, when she was a prostitute in Egypt. 20 There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses. 21 So you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when in Egypt your bosom was caressed and your young breasts fondled”

  23. dean says

    She is asking for it to be banned from the curriculum. Legalistic quibbles about the precise meaning of ban are nothing but plonkfood.

    A banned book is a book that has been removed from a library, classroom, bookshelves, or study, because of “controversial” content.

    Are you intentionally dishonest or just playing the jerk?

  24. escuerd says

    Got to agree with Lofgren on this one.

    One of my pet peeves is people who talk about prayer being “banned” in school simply because it’s not allowed for the school to endorse it. It may sound like legalistic quibbling, but using the word that way easily lends itself to equivocation by suggesting something more extreme.

    That said, the mother’s demand is still stupid and I hope the school ignores it.

  25. Draken says

    Until somewhere in the 90s, the diary didn’t contain the naughty bits (and some parts that weren’t quite friendly to her own family) because her father, Otto Frank, initially didn’t release them. I mean to recall other Franks protested even then.

  26. whirligig says

    Now that it’s suddenly worrisome and controversial, some of the students who would have just skimmed the Wikipedia article may actually read the book. Mrs. Purlclucha may have inadvertently done the class a favor.

  27. meg says

    I used to teach English here in Oz. I vividly remember a parent-teacher interview night when a father was having a go at another teacher about what we were teaching. The teacher had the best comeback:
    “So, if I’ve got this right, you don’t want us to teach anything that is sexually explicit, rude or crass, or shows overly immoral behaviour.”
    “That’s correct. You have a responsibility not to corrupt my child.”
    Long sigh. “Well, we’re going to have to cut Shakespeare then.”
    “I’m sorry? What’s the problem with Shakespeare. I’ve no problem with Shakespeare.”
    “He’s pretty much the first guy to put rude sex jokes on paper.”
    Long silence from parent.
    I missed the end of the conversation as my next parent showed up, but I’m told it was a win for the teacher.

  28. steffp says

    Pornography?
    “There are little folds of skin all over the place, you can hardly find it. The little hole underneath is so terribly small that I simply can’t imagine how a man can get in there, let alone how a whole baby can get out!”
    That virago isn’t even funny.

  29. dan4 says

    @28: There’s nothing misleading or factually inaccurate about saying this woman wants to characterize this woman’s actions as a “ban,” as long as a “…from the curriculum…” qualifier is used after that word to describe said characterization.

  30. dan4 says

    yikes, meant to write”…characterizing what this woman wants here as a…”

  31. Johnny Vector says

    This is a historical document, not a textbook, so the comparison to Of Pandas and People is not meaningful.

    Dean @27:

    A banned book is a book that has been removed from a library, classroom, bookshelves, or study, because of “controversial” content.

    Or curriculum. Here’s how the ALA uses the word:

    A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. [emphasis mine]

    From the original article: “Horalek has now demanded that the book be removed from the curriculum.” So to the ALA, the parent is attempting to ban the book. And trust me, never argue about books with a librarian (much less an entire association of them). I stand by my interpretation.

  32. lofgren says

    This is a historical document, not a textbook, so the comparison to Of Pandas and People is not meaningful.

    I’d like to see you cite any evidence that the word “banned” applies only to historical documents and not to textbooks, because until then I’m pretty sure you pulled that distinction entirely out of your ass.

    Here’s how the ALA uses the word:

    Talk about legalistic quibbling! The ALA defines the word “ban” in a way that is not representative of the way it is used in the vernacular. While that makes some sense for the specific purposes of the ALA, it creates an opportunity for obfuscation and equivocation when it is used outside of official ALA documents.

    But this was also an almost perfect Annie Hall moment for me, because I happen to have a librarian on hand! I went ahead and asked her “If a parent says that The Diary of Ann Frank should not be taught as part of the middle school curriculum, would you say that she is trying to ban that book?” The librarian’s straightforward answer: “No.”

    She then launched into an explanation that according to the ALA, that would constitute an attempt to ban the book, followed by an explanation for why the ALA defines the word this way. Then she repeated that, outside of that specific context, that is not what the word “ban” means. In other words, even librarians think you’re misusing their operational definitions.

    If you say that a person is attempting to ban a book, be it a textbook or a historical document, most people will infer that the person is attempting to bar access to that book, either by outlawing the reading of it entirely or by removing it from the places that books are normally accessible such as libraries and bookstores. Merely removing the book from a school curriculum is not nearly sufficient.

    Similarly, I could start an organization that defines “banning” prayer as the removal of prayer from a public school curriculum. If one of the missions of my organization is to track and collate attempts to remove prayer from the public school curriculum, that makes sense for my organization. But if I then go around the country arguing that liberals are attempting to ban prayer, you would correctly call me an obfuscating, equivocating asshole. Operational definitions created by private organizations in order to serve a specific purpose are not normative to the English language, as any decent librarian can tell you.

  33. lofgren says

    “He’s [Shakespeare is] pretty much the first guy to put rude sex jokes on paper.”

    Anybody who says this should not be teaching literature to children, because they obviously have no idea what they are talking about. This teacher “won” her argument by blatantly lying.

  34. meg says

    Iofgren
    Are you saying Shakespeare wasn’t bawdy? Cause trust me, he was the king of the double entendre. He wasn’t writing ‘literature’. He was writing plays that everyday common people were coming to see. That we see it now as literature is a testament to how good it is.
    Nor was it ever a focus of our studies. It was a good way to get the attention of a bunch of 14-16 year old boys.
    The point the teacher (a he, by the way) was making was that the parent had no clue what he was talking about.

  35. lofgren says

    Are you saying Shakespeare wasn’t bawdy?

    Of course not. I’m saying that calling him the “first” person to put dirty jokes to paper shows total ignorance of a couple thousand years of Western literature, let alone anything east of Athens. The teacher was making a solid point, but in a manner that calls into question his qualifications to teach literature.

  36. lofgren says

    Also,

    He wasn’t writing ‘literature’. He was writing plays that everyday common people were coming to see.

    Shakespeare wrote many popular plays that targeted the sensibilities of the groundlings, but he also wrote commissioned plays that debuted in the courts of kings and queens. His work was recognized as great literature within his lifetime and there is no doubt that he was fully aware of his own skill. His plays are of uneven quality but display a level of creativity and complexity that was uncommon (though by no means unique) in the Elizabethan theater. His skill with wordplay was immediately and widely influential on the development of the English language. That’s why we consider it literature. Not because it is “good.”

  37. dingojack says

    Just my $0.02.

    On Shakespeare: I was once in an amateur production of A Midsummer’s night Dream (a million years ago). After the performance a woman came up to the Assistant Director an said to her “that was really great, but who wrote the funny bits?” Not surprisingly we both dumbfounded and said in unison “Uh Shakespeare”.

    On banning: If I were the teacher I would say to my English class something like:
    ‘Well we were going to study The Diary of Anne Frank, but because of Mrs. Horalek’s concerns about a few passages in which Ann wonders about sex, it has been taken out of the curriculum. But there’s a copy in the school library and I’m sure other libraries have it too’.
    Ah, the law of unintended consequences hard at work.

    :) Dingo

  38. =8)-DX says

    “He’s pretty much the first guy to put rude sex jokes on paper.”

    Are you saying Shakespeare wasn’t bawdy?

    Of course not. I’m saying that calling him the “first” person to put dirty jokes to paper shows total ignorance of a couple thousand years of Western literature, let alone anything east of Athens. The teacher was making a solid point, but in a manner that calls into question his qualifications to teach literature.

    I’d say the teacher (as any good teacher does) was oversimplifying to get his point accross, choosing a well known author of English literature. It’s hyperbole, but to an ignorant audience, it expresses what he wanted to in clearest terms.

  39. dingojack says

    OK, just to add another layer of pedantry.
    Paper didn’t reach Europe until the 13th century. Those bawdy Greeks and Romans were committing their naughty thoughts to vellum or papyrus (or the like).. [/pedant]
    “) Dingo

  40. Johnny Vector says

    Okay lofgren, whatever. You go ahead and characterize the ALA as an obfuscating, equivocating asshole. I’ll continue to use “ban” the same way it is used to define the very first thing I think of when I think of a list of banned books.

    And next time you meet an entire national organization while standing in line at a movie theater, take a photo, eh?

  41. lofgren says

    Johnny Vector, I made no such characterization. It is YOU I am calling obfuscating and equivocating, for misusing a technical operational definition intended to serve a specific purpose by conflating it with the vernacular definition. The ALA is a victim here, of you claiming their support when clearly you don’t understand them and why they do what they do.

    Another perfect case of your obfuscation: you say “don’t argue with a librarian about books,” so I bring you the opinion of a librarian. Then when the librarian tells you you’re wrong, you say it doesn’t count unless I get the unanimous opinion of the ALA. Stop abusing the ALA for your obfuscating purposes and own up to your own dishonesty.

  42. escuerd says

    dan4 @34,35,

    Sure. I agree with that.

    Similarly, I wouldn’t mind the people saying that there’s a ban on school-endorsed prayer. That qualifier always seems to be lost among a certain crowd of prayer-pushers, though. In this thread, the relevant qualifier only seemed to show up here when someone said something about it.

    In the prayer case I think the distinction makes a critical difference, whereas in this particular case, it’s almost academic. Banning outright an important historical work on such a flimsy basis is only marginally worse than banning it from the curriculum (and is generally driven by the same pearl-clutching attitudes that this mom displays). I do think that there are instances where the distinction does matter (e.g. books full of religious dogma), and that it’s best not to gloss over it too casually.

  43. blf says

    Bid to censor Anne Frank’s ‘pornographic’ diary in schools fails:

    Michigan school committee rejects mother’s plea to remove edition of Diary of a Young Girl from students’ eyes

    A mother’s attempt to ban Anne Frank’s diary from classrooms in Michigan over “pornographic” anatomical descriptions has failed, after a committee ruled that the title’s removal “would effectively impose situational censorship”.

    The school committee has now voted unanimously to retain the book as an option for students in the seventh grade curriculum after reviewing the mother’s concerns. “The committee felt strongly that a decision to remove the use of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl — The Definitive Edition as a choice within this larger unit of study would effectively impose situational censorship by eliminating the opportunity for the deeper study afforded by this edition,” wrote assistant superintendent Robert Behnke in a letter to the community.

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