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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bill Would Require Every High School Student in Idaho to Read Atlas Shrugged

Posted by on Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Betsy Z. Russell at The Spokesman-Review reports:

BOISE – Coeur d’Alene Sen. John Goedde, chairman of the Idaho Senate’s Education Committee, introduced legislation Tuesday to require every Idaho high school student to read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” and pass a test on it to graduate from high school.

When Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, asked Goedde why he chose that particular book, Goedde said to laughter, “That book made my son a Republican.”

This is the best way to ensure that every adult in your state is a total asshole.

 

Comments (36) RSS

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Urgutha Forka 1
Not a single economics course was offered in my high school. Not even a personal finance class was available.

In a country so fixated and addicted to capitalism and making money, not offering those basic courses is a reprehensible.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on February 6, 2013 at 12:25 PM · Report this
2
Are they also going to make Danielle Steele (another "bodice ripper" author) required reading?
Posted by randoma on February 6, 2013 at 12:27 PM · Report this
3
I am in favor of this plan. Atlas Shrugged is as mediocre a book as it is a movie, and there is no surer way to turn high schoolers off something than to jam it down their throats.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on February 6, 2013 at 12:31 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 4
My high school was useless. It was just a place to house teenagers so their parents could work without going to the police station every day.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on February 6, 2013 at 12:31 PM · Report this
psbirch 5
These people seem to not understand that by granting the state the power to force people to read (and comprehend) specific texts, they're subverting the power of local PTA and School Boards, who should be the ones generating curricula.

Posted by psbirch on February 6, 2013 at 12:38 PM · Report this
seandr 6
Let's skip all the mamsy-pamsy reading stuff and pass a bill requiring every high school student to vote Republican.
Posted by seandr on February 6, 2013 at 12:39 PM · Report this
7
This is surefire way to get high schoolers to hate reading.
Posted by bookworm on February 6, 2013 at 12:42 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 8
teach the controversy.
Posted by Max Solomon on February 6, 2013 at 12:45 PM · Report this
McJulie 9
I'm with @3. Kids are made to read a lot of stuff in their young lives. They end up hating and resenting most of it.

This reminds me of proposals to make kids read the Bible -- it's as if these dingbats literally cannot comprehend anybody reading their cherished holy book and not instantly falling in love with it and believing every single thing it says.

It could be fun to watch the fundie parents fight with the free-market-fundie parents over the sex scenes.
Posted by McJulie on February 6, 2013 at 12:46 PM · Report this
mkyorai 10
@6. I laughed. Then twitched, slightly, in horror.
Posted by mkyorai on February 6, 2013 at 12:52 PM · Report this
11
I guess the irony of a government law that forces everybody to read Atlas Shrugged is lost on Sen. Goedde. He gets a D- for reading comprehension.
Posted by Proteus on February 6, 2013 at 12:52 PM · Report this
12
As if any force on Earth could get Idaho high schoolers to read a thousand page book. Please.
Posted by tiktok on February 6, 2013 at 12:54 PM · Report this
13
The "small gov" reactionaries once again show their true color.
Posted by anon1256 on February 6, 2013 at 1:04 PM · Report this
14
On the plus side, maybe a few kids will become atheists because of Rand's influence.
Posted by catsnbanjos on February 6, 2013 at 1:14 PM · Report this
15
Is the USA falling behind teaching science, technology, engineering, and math? Yes? Oh, then we should make students read Ayn Rand. Problem solved!
Posted by AndyInChicago on February 6, 2013 at 1:16 PM · Report this
treacle 16
Can we get a rider on that bill that says they also have to read Steppenwolf or Zen & Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? Those should provide useful balance.

@11 - Precisely.
Posted by treacle on February 6, 2013 at 1:18 PM · Report this
Dougsf 17
Forget the political grandstanding in Atlas Shrugged—unless their teacher is a Libertarian activist insisting on impressing the points upon the class, the message will be totally lost of most of'em—the real crime is that required reading should be well written, and Atlas Shrugged is check-out line garbage.
Posted by Dougsf on February 6, 2013 at 1:20 PM · Report this
LogopolisMike 18
If they read it in high school, maybe they can grow out of thinking anything other than complete bullshit before they get to voting age.
Posted by LogopolisMike http://logopolis.typepad.com on February 6, 2013 at 1:21 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 19
Has Atlas Shrugged ever made anyone turn into a high speed rail entrepreneur, using their own money (say from a mining fortune) to build and operate a Super Train, across the US?

Because that's what it's about...right?
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on February 6, 2013 at 1:27 PM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 20
It made me an atheist (or at least finished the job). So there's that.
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on February 6, 2013 at 1:30 PM · Report this
21
I think the quickest way to get the largest number of high school students to rebel against the message of a book is to require them to read it. So I eagerly await the coming generation of communists that Idaho is going to produce.
Posted by Sinclair on February 6, 2013 at 1:39 PM · Report this
COMTE 22
I actually DID read "Atlas Shrugged" in high school (IIRC, the book hadn't been checked out for some five years prior to me taking it out), and IMO that's about the ONLY stage of life it SHOULD be read, per @18's comment.
Posted by COMTE on February 6, 2013 at 2:11 PM · Report this
23
He obviously didn't understand the book if he thinks it's a good idea for the government to mandate that children read it. If this passes, the worst result would be kids being turned off of reading in general for having to slog (no offense) through that worthless shitstorm of a book.
Posted by Root on February 6, 2013 at 2:45 PM · Report this
24
@19: Me. While I don't have any mining fortunes to finance my super train with, I vote Democrat now thanks to Atlas Shrugged. They're the only ones interested in super trains these days.
Posted by redemma on February 6, 2013 at 2:48 PM · Report this
25
If he really wants every high school student in Idaho to read Atlas Shrugged, he should try to get it banned from the curriculum. Nothing sparks interest in a book more than hearing that adults don't want you to read it.
Posted by Clayton on February 6, 2013 at 2:50 PM · Report this
In2ishn 26
I read it in high school and was a total believer. I outgrew it freshman year in college. Isn't that the usual lifespan of interest in Ayn Rand?
Posted by In2ishn on February 6, 2013 at 3:09 PM · Report this
sirkowski 27
Do they know Ayn Rand was a radical atheist?
Posted by sirkowski http://www.missdynamite.com on February 6, 2013 at 3:31 PM · Report this
28
I read it during the summer after my freshman year in college, and it changed me from a person with moderately right/conservative economic beliefs into a socialist who believes that many libertarians are absolute psychopaths. Coincidentally, I had recently read Robert Anton Wilson's ILLUMINATUS trilogy which features sort of an Ayn Rand/Phyllis Schafly character who wrote a thinly-veiled parody of 'Atlas Shrugged' called 'Telemachus Sneezed'.
Posted by John Guilt on February 6, 2013 at 4:43 PM · Report this
fletc3her 29
After reading Atlas Shrugged I honestly felt sure that Ayn Rand was a Democrat.
Posted by fletc3her on February 6, 2013 at 4:59 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 30
Well to be fair Atlas Shrugged is better read as Cliff Notes.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on February 6, 2013 at 5:04 PM · Report this
31
What is it about Atlas Shrugged? She wrote the same basic idea a lot...and every last story is better than Atlas Shrugged because every last one is shorter.

Anthem can mess a person up about as well in a mere 1/10th the time and effort.
Posted by david on February 6, 2013 at 5:33 PM · Report this
MarkyMark 32
Idaho needs more Republicans?!?
Posted by MarkyMark on February 6, 2013 at 5:50 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 33
@26, that was basically my script as well. Once I was around people who were cool, people I could relate to, it suddenly became far less important to use a 'everybody hates me guess I'll go eat worms' philosophy.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on February 6, 2013 at 6:36 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 34
I'm more interested in the questions on the test. I bet they would focus on whether the student agreed with the stupid premises in the book rather than simply identifying them.
Posted by Free Lunch on February 6, 2013 at 7:44 PM · Report this
35
Wouldn't that mean they all had to know how to read, first? I thought the Republicans were against that.
Posted by Avedon on February 6, 2013 at 7:52 PM · Report this
36
I'm an Objectivist, which is to say I am all down for as many people as possible learning how to be rational and living life rationally. (There are some political stances that usually follow through on this, but they are not the same ones the good people of Idaho think they are.)

I'm also a writer, and an avid reader. I've read this book four times... and if I were assigned it in high school, and worse yet had to pass a test on it to graduate, I wouldn't have blown my brains out. I certainly wouldn't have gotten a damn thing out of it, and would have reached for the Cliffs Notes like everyone else.

This is the wrong Ayn Rand novel to push into high school required reading... the 'right' one would be Anthem. It's short, and works over simpler concepts (and doesn't have twenty-five-page speeches). But 'introducing the concepts of rational thought, self-reliance and self-empowerment' wasn't what the sponsors wanted, they wanted to mandate their own misreadings of Atlas Shrugged as justification for Republican douchebaggery.

They don't want better children, they want more Republican voters, and their reading of Atlas Shrugged is comparable to Christian Fundamentalists' reading of the Bible (with all that made-up shit about Jesus going on about the gays just so Jerry Falwell can con rubes out of their dollars). The people who want to make Atlas Shrugged their bible have rather missed the point of the thing.

(For the curious, I'm a libertarian who usually votes Democrat, and spent the last year at Occupy Wall Street. A contradiction wrapped around a riddle wrapped around a Paul Ryan joke, I know. It's possible there is more to this book than the rough liberal treatment gives it, but considering what the conservatives do with it, I entirely understand and say 'have at it,' because they need to be knocked down seven or twelve pegs before we can even deal with these assholes.)
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Posted by smcke0wn on February 6, 2013 at 11:10 PM · Report this

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