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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Anne Frank Revisited

I noticed a huge uptick in the number of searches landing on my blog post "Anne Frank Uncensored", especially over the past month, and wondered at what could have triggered this sudden (prurient?) interest in her uncensored diary.
Today, the mystery was solved.
Not for the first time, apparently, a parent in Michigan has challenged her daughter's school for prescribing the uncensored version for 7th grade reading. I start to wonder if this is perhaps a cooordinated effort of some sort to protest the choice of  Anne Frank's Diary as reading material, perhaps spearheaded by some group that might have another axe to grind.

The local news reported that Gail Horalek found passages in which Anne muses about the anatomy of her genitals in the book 'pornographic' and upsetting her daughter.
"This particular material is inappropriate for seventh grade students to read, especially without their parents' knowledge, Horalek said.
"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," she said."
Despite Horalek's assertion,  it would appear to be just the opposite- that if she or her daughter considers the passages in question to be upsetting and pornographic, then her child is sheltered, living in a bubble.
It seems like a bit of an overreaction on her part to protest the book, unless she is miffed that the school district didn't alert her to the passage in question. Would she have been mollified and given permission to read the book if they had sent home a consent form?
It could have been a teachable moment for the mother to explain that such exploration is not unusual, and quite natural, the only horrific thing about the passage being that Anne Frank, who might have lived a normal lifein another day and age, could have kept her hidden diary to herself, instead of it being open to the views and opinions of millions of strangers. This could have evolved into a meaningful discussion of what privacy means, how it is viewed in the historical context of opening up Anne's thoughts to strangers, and what it implies for this hyperconnected world of Facebook, Instagram etc.

Interestingly, Anne Frank's diary is not on the Wiki-list of most commonly challenged books in the U.S., but maybe that status will now change, as more fundamentalist parents get their protests in.

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