Let's not confuse the people of Seattle with the people in Seattle that call in to radio shows, even those that are broadcast on KUOW.

Seattleites do tend to be a bit priggish and overly PC but I doubt the population of the city as a whole would support a ban on "A Brave New World" in the Seattle Public Schools.

If am I wrong and they do we should instantly be stripped of our award for most literate city.
Fucking idiots. I sent annoyed emails to the school board, which is also considering this, and the principal at Nathan Hale.

All I got back from the Principal was some nonsense gibberish.
Book isnt banned from the school, just removed from required reading. An email sent out this morning, by school officials, flat out deny that the book was banned from the library.

Most of the people who are upset with this, who want to voice their opinion at Nathan Hale HS admins, do not have kids and if they do, they dont attend Nathan Hale HS. So you'll probably get ignored.

The even further irony is how this book is against the state control of thought, but supporters of the book want teachers (state employees) to re-educate parents in order for the book to be re-introduced back into require reading.

So in order for you to not get upset about the book we want your kids to read, we need you to change the way you think. Are You Serious? Really?
Unfortunately, depending how you ask the question a majority of Americans will say they oppose First Amendment rights.
Seattle is not nearly as hip as its hipsters would like to think.
Liberals, particularly Seattle-style Soy-mochaccino Liberals, are often more eager to regulate thought than right-wing kooks.
Even removing the book from the required reading list is over-kill. The girl was upset because a book written 80 years ago shows cultural prejudices which existed then, by relegating the book to what amounts to oblivion in the school, the larger meaning will not be taught. Obliterating the mistakes of the past will not teach children to avoid making the same mistakes.

There are always three looney tunes people in any public gathering.

Not sure why, but it's always so.

The trick is not to let them get the microphone and to turn it off when they get annoying.
@3 No we just want parents to stop being fucking whiny morons who lack basic reading comprehension skills.

As a Native American myself, I find the book far FAR less offensive than the book of mormon.

I am also frustrated and offended by The Babysitters Club for advancing the idea that babysitting is interesting or worthy of a club.
WiS@8 - is this the most ironic thing ever posted on Slog?
I listened to the whole thing and thought the panel was reasoned and intelligent.

It blows my mind that anyone thinks it's appropriate to ban any book. The core of the argument is this: It's OK to be offended by a book. It's OK to not like someone's viewpoint or writing. It's not OK to deny others from forming their own opinions about it. It's also not OK to live in a world where the state decides that we all must share the same viewpoint and what that shared viewpoint must be.

And if that doesn't make sense, I only have this: fucking grow a pair, you thin-skinned babies. Since when was life fair? Since when was life unoffensive? Since when did sticks and stones break bones? Now your kids are going to grow up to be helpless flailing annoying adult-babies.
I was shocked by this caller, as well. But I just felt terrible for the child of the mom who called to tell you about how stupid 15-year-old kids are.

When I was that age, I had a republican economics teach who taught us about the evils or affirmative action. Some of the best conversations I ever had were with my dad when I'd go home and tell him about why affirmative action was unfair to people who worked really hard, and he counter-argued all of my points until I realized my teacher was full of shit and that there was more than one way to look at the issue.

I loved this sort of discussion at that age, and thank god my parents didn't freak out everytime I had a teacher that taught things they didn't agree with.

I went to Nathan Hale (class of 2003) and the book was required reading back then as well. It was part of a "future" unit, mostly looking at dystopian novels. One of the major themes of the unit was censorship, as I recall. Wow.

My only objection to the book was that it was boring as hell; but then, I was in 10th grade.
I went to Nathan Hale (class of 2003) and the book was required reading back then as well. It was part of a "future" unit, mostly looking at dystopian novels. One of the major themes of the unit was censorship, as I recall. Wow.

My only objection to the book was that it was boring as hell; but then, I was in 10th grade.
people love to ban shit. banning shit is popular.
I gave up on KUOW call-in shows years ago when some nitwit called up and launched an angry tirade at the host about strip clubs in Seattle, and the message that sends to young girls.

And it's been thirty years since I read "Brave New World", but it seemed to me that the savages reference was supposed to be ironic, since the government in the book was so awful.

Then again, I may be mixing it up with "1984". Or "Animal Farm". Or some Bradbury thing.

And while we're on the topic of offensive, one of my very favorite authors is NW native Betty MacDonald. But she said some awful things about Indians in "The Egg and I". I love Raymond Chandler, but he made a few nasty side comments about gays and lesbians in his books - particularly in "The Big Sleep". But on balance, I love both those books.
I think we should also ban 1984, as it is offensive to British government employees.
If the book is removed from the required readings, perhaps the students should be required to study why and how the book was removed? Make this event a learning moment for students.
Okay kids, I was the caller and I write for the blog, Save Seattle Schools. First off, it would help if people actually understood the situation. But the "pundits" on KUOW decided they knew everything in 3 seconds and that was it. Burning books, banning books and the ever popular Nazis.

Jesus Christ.

Look, NO one is banning this book from any SPS high school. Go to any of their libraries, it's there. Get over that idea.

"Since when was life fair? Since when was life unoffensive? Since when did sticks and stones break bones? Now your kids are going to grow up to be helpless flailing annoying adult-babies."

This is what we are talking about. I'm thinking Mitten is white so of course it's okay to whine about other people's concerns as being "adult babies."

If you want to read the whole story, go to my blog,

You might change your mind (if you listen of course).

The teachers at Hale wrote a letter saying they couldn't teach the book properly. The district admits there are several challenging books among the 75 on their booklist that need more professional development for the teachers. (Not that teachers are not capable but that maybe there are a few books out there for which guidance is important.) They are working on this.

If the teachers at the school say they aren't ready and the district says they aren't ready, why not suspend use of the book until they say they are? The district said by early next year they will have the curriculum map ready.

I know Eli thinks he was just the sharpest little 15-year old ever but not every kid has two parents to come home to talk to, not every kid does get satire AND have any knowledge base of Native American realities.

In BNW, one of the "savages" kills himself. Native Americans have the highest suicide rate in the country. HIghest unemployment and second highest drop-out rate. If you think that doesn't matter in a classroom, you're wrong.

No, you can protect kids from reality. No, you don't need to explain every single detail. But you also can't ASSUME that all kids are all alike.

There is no thought police about this. This is not telling the kids what to think about the book. This is lending context and nuance to a challenging book to, as Eli said, allow them to learn to think critically.

The "savage" who killed himself was white. Perhaps you should read the book so YOU have some idea of what you're talking about.
In the dystopia of Brave New World they did not ban books. There was no need because in that society (much like ours) nobody actually read books.
If she's not already one, she's a great candidate for membership in the GOP/TP'ers. They like to damn the messenger and suppress everything but their own tiny, simpleton world view. Dolts. Idiots. Fools. There's a reason their initials are "TP" -- toilet paper... shit for brains.
#20, I'm not a techer, but I assume not all books on the required reading list have to be taught, and that teachers can actually select the books they are going to teach from the list. If that's the case, then why can't they leave "Brave New World" on the list for those teachers (such as those who teach advanced placement english) who feel comfortable enough with the material to teach it?

@20: Your incoherent blog post misses the mark in so many ways. Not least of which is that there somehow needs to be other "satires" dealing with other races and ethnicities before there is some sort of educational "balance". So we should teach creationism, too?

Sense-Wilson's argument against the book seems to hang on the fact that it could be "used" to further undermine the Native American community. This is supported by ignorant comments coming from high school juniors and seniors. Yeah, kids are stupid, which is why they're in school. If a greater discussion of history, culture, and sensitivity can come out of this, that's great.

For the record, Maus is an allegorical satire. Huck Finn is also a satire. And both deal with complex themes. There's your balance, if that's what you needed. But it sounds like what's really missing, as per the Ballard teacher's comment, is the context of these texts in terms of their place in history, so people don't have an entitlement-conniption when they come across ideas they don't like.

(Oh, and fuck you if you try and guess my race.)
To #17, Catalina (great pix, BTW): Avoid Iceland, they outlawed all strip clubs and payment in exchange for ANY type of female nudity.

On a more pertinent note, that caller was both militantly ignorant and deranged as Brave New World and 1984 should be required reading.

It has been many decades since I read them, but I believe it was Huxley in BNW who wrote about the colossal streams of disinformation used to stupify the populace, while in Orwell's 1984 there was mention of some many prescient items, and of course, that lottery thingy.

Also in the required category should be the viewing of the clip below:

And in important breaking news that douchebag caller would prefer:

#24: There are seventy-five books on the curriculum reading list. These are the twenty-four books on the Seattle Public Schools tenth-grade language arts instructional list.
Animal Farm, George Orwell
Antigone, Sophocles
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
Breath, Eyes, Memory, Edwidge Danticat
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Color of Water, James McBride
The Dark Child, Camara Laye
Fountain and Tomb, Naguib Mahfouz
Haroun and Sea of Stories, Salman Rushdie
In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez
The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel
Lord of the Flies, William Golding
Master Harold and Boys, Athol Fugard
Maus, Art Spiegelman
Mother to Mother, Sindiwe Magona
Nectar in the Sieve, Kamala Markandaya
Othello, William Shakespeare
Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
Siddhartha, Herman Hesse
The Sound of Waves, Yukio Mishima
The Tempest, William Shakespeare
Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe

These are the language arts aims of Seattle Public Schools for tenth graders:
Explore the theme of personal identity through a variety of literary genres.
路 Identify and analyze historical and cultural forces that influence literature.
路 Read a variety of texts independently.
路 Use routine metacognitive reading strategies (e.g. Reading Apprenticeship).
路 Specify how literary elements in texts of multiple genres convey meaning.
路 Analyze fiction and non-fiction to explain the specific choices authors make,
especially word choice, language details, literary devices and figurative language,
intended audience, purpose, and form.

It's true that the students don't breeze through these novels at the rate of one a week: there is a limit to the number of novels studied and discussed.
@20 "You might change your mind"

Due to your inside school process minutia blog post? Not hardly.

I would, however, be interested in seeing these letters you've described, especially the apology and statement of incompetence.

Ultimately, despite all your protestations, the simple fact is that it appears you are championing brushing these issues under the "not taught" carpet, instead of trying to address the perceived improper learning.

I don't see anything in your post about Ms. Sense-Wilson taking the offered opportunity to provide the teachers with "cultural sensitivity training" which could range anywhere from my initial conception of complete bullshit to a positive presentation of information that could potentially be used to craft a lesson that wouldn't be such a problem for Ms. Sense-Wilson, her daughter or others similarly sensitive to Native American issues.

Further, given that Ms. Sense-Wilson also takes issue with Hale's diversity day and it's treatment of Native Americans, it would seem that the book and the attack on it may be simply tangential to a broader problem between the school and Ms. Sense-Wilson and perhaps the broader Native American community.

Lastly, 15-year olds say all sorts of stupid shit, only some of which reflects what they actually buy into. These remarks do not necessarily indicate anything untoward is actually being learned.
Virginia Mason, that was what initially happened. One school took it off but it remained on all the other schools' lists. That school took it off because the teachers themselves said they did not feel fully prepared to teach it.

One thing I love about Slog readers - never, ever afraid to call names instead of having a decent argument.

I really cannot believe she was allowed to get this far... in her first letter to the admin. at Nathan Hale, Ms. Sense-Wilson also railed against Othello and Lord of the Flies, in addition to BNW, for their use of the word "savage". Here is the link to the school board site... scroll down.…

I don't see anyone calling you names. I do see you ignoring valid questions/criticisms because you're too afraid? too ignorant? to address them.
@20 You are a perfect example of the Libtardistan Progressiveland that is Seattle.


Combine the two lines above to get to The School Board link, to the agenda, then to the Review of Record.
Going back to my nice civilized blog. I addressed everything I could but this foaming at the mouth without knowing all the facts is not good.

Gotta remember; read the Slog but don't comment. A very rough, very reactive, very uncivil.

Funny thing, I'm pretty sure the School Board will tell the district to get the teachers up to speed on the more challenging books on the list or suspend their use.
I haven't read "Brave New World" in over 15 years so I don't remember, but if kesmeshi is right that the savage is white, and the actual definition of savage is not "Native American person," then it sounds as though this parent's objection is completely subjective in the first place and not based on the reality of book's content.
Dan Savage should be forced to change his name.
Selective reading and dismissal of data must be a requirement for some people. I can read through the comments so far, and some questions have been politely raised, some arguments rationally made, and not every comment is an insult. Some even refer to SPS materials. But what is this? Blanket statements?

But then, should we expect a former member of Citizens Advisory Committee on School Facilities and Programs to pay much attention to input and feedback using relevant materials (the novel, curriculum list, challenged material review). "Oh hey let's close a school without having demographic data stating overcrowding will be an issue." How many schools have opened up in the cluster since the 2006 attempted closure of a northeast cluster elementary school? Data both the Citizens Advisory Committee on School Facilities and Programs and Seattle Public Schools failed to get.

"this foaming at the mouth without knowing all the facts is not good" -- this can be applied to some of westello's contributions as well. "Kids" as an address I perceive as used in an ironic context, a literary device, yet somehow comes across as debasing.. "I know Eli thinks he was just the sharpest little 15-year old ever but not every kid has two parents to come home to talk to" -- did Eli actually make that statement of himself? I heard the clip on "Weekday" and can answer that question (No, Eli did not make that statement himself.).

I also take offense to "but not every kid has two parents to come home to talk to". The premise that sharp children cannot possibly be in single parent households does a disservice to the bright and gifted students in underserved communities. Furthermore, it appears that the child of the parent challenging the material has two parents sharing an address, judging from voting records. It bugs the crap out of me that so many people are quick to dismiss people of lower socioeconomic quintiles as slow: I thought the tendency to equate higher intelligence with recognition of upper-middle-class household items went away in the 1970s.

Most of the "savages" in the book are Native American, save one white man who was raised among them. There are descriptions of weird rituals that the Native Americans engage in on the reservation (which may be/probably are completely made up by Huxley), but, aside from that, Huxley pretty clearly takes the side of the "savages." It's the larger society that's fucked up and ultimately drives John (the white "savage") to kill himself.

I can't even begin to guess how someone with any critical thinking skills could misinterpret the book so badly. And I don't necessarily blame the kid or her parent, I blame the teachers who claim not to be able to teach a pretty straightforward book.

At what point do we put it on the teachers to figure this out? How dumbed down does the curriculum need to be so they don't fuck things up?
Any teacher who "isn't prepared to teach the book" should be considered a harmful agent. READ THE DAMN BOOK. I wouldn't let my kid near such a person. In fact, just reading the book without any teaching at all would surely be more valuable for your average high school student than all of their teachers put together.
westello @20: Wait, hang on. The teachers say they aren't prepared to teach the book, and your response is to get rid of the book? I guess if your mechanic tells you he's not
qualified to work on your car, you sell your car, too?

I went to your blog and read the post entitled "Brave New World Indeed." I had a hell of a time constructing any kind of a coherent narrative out of it, because it seemed to be a listing of meeting minutes. If there's a more linear post about this, will you link directly to it?

Until then, I can only respond to the points you made here.

If the teachers at the school say they aren't ready and the district says they aren't ready, why not suspend use of the book until they say they are?

Because most of the benefit of reading a book comes from having read it, not from having been in class when it was discussed. There are always teachers everywhere who are under-teaching a book they don't fully understand, but it's still beneficial for the students to read the book.

What's more, your argument (the kids might get bad ideas from being incorrectly taught about the book), if taken further, suggests some pretty alarming ideas. If we don't trust kids to read challenging texts without supervision, then a school library is a virtual hotbed of all kinds of dangerous ideas. Even if Brave New World is taken off the curriculum, some curious students might check it out and read it to see what all the hubbub is about. Without the guiding mind of a properly-trained teacher, these kids might read the book wrong. Your reasoning is a very short step away from banning the book, which is why it's so threatening to those of us who are made uneasy by the idea of a book ban.

not every kid has two parents to come home to talk to, not every kid does get satire AND have any knowledge base of Native American realities.

I think this kind of thinking results in a constant ratcheting-down of our expectations of kids, teens in particular, which is ultimately a huge disservice to them. Kids can be thoughtful, intelligent, and engaged, so long as we expect it of them. But if we treat them like they're made of porcelain and have to be taught what to think in addition to how to think, more and more of them will behave like it. Give kids some credit, and consider treating them like they're partners in their education instead of passive vessels that have to be filled with Approved Knowledge.

No one has the Right to not be offended by something.
Let me get this straight - so Huxley uses harmful, negative stereotypes about Native people in service of his dystopic theme. Because his theme is positive and enlightening, it's okay to use those harmful, negative stereotypes. And because the book was written 80 years ago, those harmful, negative stereotypes are no longer harmful and negative, because they are no longer used against any Native people, who should all just grow a thicker skin when they see harmful, negative stereotypes about themselves being bandied about, even in service of an enlightened, positive theme?
@42 No you should read the fucking book. The 'savages' are the goddamn heroes for fuck sake.
@29 You are pretty profoundly deluded if you imagine that what you are presenting here, or on your blog is a 'decent argument'.
@20 - Read the book. That fact that you know nothing about it except that it uses the word "savage" doesn't help your case much.

By the way, in Maus, the French are portrayed as frogs. You should get one of your French ancestored book-banner pals to get that one off the list as well.
@20. I've shuffled through your poorly-written, seemingly pointless blog (unless you're the note taker at the school board meetings?) and I've failed to see any coherent, critical, sound-analytic thought. I might point out that I've failed, despite the fact that I'm a former educator at a university where many students from the Seattle School District eventually attend and have, on a regular basis in recent years, slogged through countless other poorly written narratives from under-educated, self-entitled 20-somethings who have been pampered in their youth and never challenged to develop any sense of accountability, duty to their education, or even excuse-free school work, much less critical thinking skills. Surely that would have prepared me to read your blog.

I find it discouraging, alarming, and downright appalling that high school teachers--those same teachers who are up in arms about the poor quality of Teach for America instructors and what unspeakable damage that corps might do to the educational system--admittedly don't know how to properly teach a novel with complex themes. As a society, we should forgive teachers and the school district simply because they acquiesce their incompetence? The satire in Brave New World and the themes that accompany it are not deeply encoded. This book does not require a Da Vinci Code to understand (hint: my use of The Davinci Code here is what us high-brow scholars call "irony." hint-hint: my use of "high-brow scholars" is also "irony."). This book requires basic reading comprehension skills and some thoughtful analysis.

If we take at face value that this is merely a temporary hold of sorts placed on the book in terms of the required reading list, it is still teetering very close to a dangerous line. This whole charade not only sets a bad precedent for other potentially controversial literature, but it teaches our children that self-entitlement gets you what you want and, even worse, it elevates one parent's and child's interpretation of the text above other students, and at a severe expense. What a wonderful classroom experience it could have been if the student had raised her interpretation of the book in class herself and prompted a thoughtful discussion among students. And just perhaps the un-prepared, ill-prepared teacher would have learned something.

Shame on Nathan Hale High School, shame on the school board, and shame on you for propogating the ridiculous excuse of "but we don't know how to teach this book." Shame, shame, shame.
This is disheartening. BNW was my favorite book read in high school. It opened my eyes to so much and left a positive, lasting impression on me. It was, as much as I can remember, one if the first times I read something of that nature and realized the power of irony. I owe a lot to that book, and Black Flag.
There are a lot of people here who are upset about something that they think happened or that they think might happen, but didn't happen and can't happen.

Right now, Seattle public school teachers are free to assign Brave New World and - regardless of the school board's decision - they will be free to assign it in the future as well. The Board's decision is almost without impact.

There is only one high school, Ballard, where the book is now assigned to students. Ballard can continue to teach it if they like.

Ms Sense-Wilson has little to gain from her complaint and freedom-loving Americans have little to lose. Either way the Board decides, it won't much matter.

Generally speaking, the more incendiary, extreme, dire, or sensational the language used around this situation, the less reliable the source.

This is not a ban or anything like one. There was no objection to the book, only the way it was mis-taught. Even then, the objection to the way the book was taught has also been mis-communicated. The press, including the Stranger, has not reported this story with any accuracy or precision and has, ironically, provided an excellent example of how something like this can be mis-taught.
Eli writes: "I Can't Believe We're Talking About Banning Brave New World at a Seattle Public High School" and that's a good thing because he shouldn't believe it because it isn't true.
Reg wrote: "In the dystopia of Brave New World they did not ban books. There was no need because in that society (much like ours) nobody actually read books."

Not true. Many books were indeed prohibited. See chapter 16 (

" The Savage's face lit up with a sudden pleasure. "Have you read it too?" he asked. "I thought nobody knew about that book here, in England."

"Almost nobody. I'm one of the very few. It's prohibited, you see. But as I make the laws here, I can also break them."
This is disheartening. BNW was my favorite book read in high school. It opened my eyes to so much and left a positive, lasting impression on me. It was, as much as I can remember, one if the first times I read something of that nature and realized the power of irony. I owe a lot to that book, and Black Flag.
@46 - ftw
@46 have just made my morning. thanks.
Maybe it would be right to ban this book. In BNW, the 'Savage' (who I think is half-Native American and brought up on the reservation) is the *hero*. He is a misunderstood outsider who kills himself because he refuses to surrender his integrity to a vacuous totalitarian idiocracy. Any intelligent youngster - of any background - could easily draw the parallels to our own society. Dangerous!
I hope Eli has learned more about the situation and recognizes that he was misinformed before. I hope he now knows that there is no effort to ban the book in any way. I hope he now knows that the problem was never with the book but with the way it was taught. I hope he knows these things and that knowledge might bring him to a different conclusion.

I hope for these things, but I have no cause for confidence in them.

I hope that Eli's readers now know that he went off half-cocked. I guess it is something that he does - forms opinions on matters without facts to support them and broadcasts that opinion and the false information. Let's all be careful about believing what we read and hear from unreliable sources.
Charlie Mas: Take a look at westello's comment at 20. Of particular note is this: "why not suspend use of the book until they say they are [ready to teach it]?"

That's what a lot of people are responding to. That's the actual caller that Eli responded to on the KUOW show on Friday morning. I remember because I listened to it. It's what prompted this post, and it's what westello still seems to be advancing as the proper course of action. Eli responded to an explicit suggestion to suspend use of the book. I don't see that as "half-cocked," I see that as a reasonable way to answer a suggestion: with an evaluation of the suggestion.

How would you like to see Eli respond when somebody suggests that "use of the book" be "suspended?"
Thank you Mike for a reasonable question.

You write that Eli is responding to an explicit suggestion to suspend use of the book. I don't think that's right. Here's how Eli quoted himself:

"I believe she's sincerely offended and I believe she has good intentions鈥攂ut it sounds like she has a severe misunderstanding of the point of this book. And, I would say, no right to impose that absolute misunderstanding on the school community."

This quote belies his ignorance about the situation.

First, Ms Sense-Wilson and her daughter have no misunderstanding of the book. They know that it is a work of satire and that the representation of the "savage" culture in the novel is a charicature, and not a true representation of Native American cultures.

It is, rather, the misunderstanding of the book that the teacher imposed on the students, that the "savage" culture in the book is representative of Native American culture, that troubled Ms Sense-Wilson and her daughter. The school and the District both agreed that the book was mis-taught and they both expressed their apologies. This is established, but Eli got it wrong. Eli persists in his mistaken belief that Ms Sense-Wilson and her daughter either misunderstood the book or were offended by the book. That's simply not true. The problem is not with the book but with the way it was taught.

Eli says that Ms Sense-Wilson has no right to impose a misunderstanding of the book on the school community. That's not at issue. I wonder, however, how he feels about teachers imposing a misunderstanding of the book on school communities. That is the issue.

The situation could be addressed if the District would offer teachers some guidance when assigning the book. The District, however, refuses to do that. This is odd since the District also says that they absolutely intend to do exactly that, but on a timetable of their own choosing and they refuse to be pushed to write the guidance for Brave New World right away. The District, despite their stated intention to write guidance for teachers for all 75 books on the aligned curriculum list, have no timetable for writing any of them and refuse to make such a timetable.

How reasonable is that?

If the District would just do the job that they say they want to do then this would not be an issue and there would be no talk about removing the book from the aligned curriculum list.

Mike, you may understand the real issue here, but Eli clearly does not and the vast majority of the commentors on this thread do not.
Your mistake was saying she was wrong. Saying that someone is wrong is rude. You should always assume other people are correct. Unless they are Democrats. That is The New Way.

Freedom of speech means being free to speak without someone else saying you are wrong, don't you know that?

PS: I'm right.

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