athletes, celebrities, mental health, psychology, tragedies, YouTube

Partial repost: Christy Henrich and Karen Carpenter, and discovering Dr. Todd Grande…

Recently, I watched a video done about Karen Carpenter by YouTube shrink, Dr. Todd Grande. Dr. Grande does videos about mental health topics in a trademark “flat” kind of way. When I first encountered him on YouTube, I didn’t like his videos that much because his delivery was so dry. But I kept coming back, because he chose interesting topics. After awhile, I realized that I enjoy his videos and even his “flat” style… especially when he throws shade in kind of a bland way. In the video he made about Karen Carpenter, Dr. Grande remarked that in terms of her musical talent, Karen was “like a Ferrari stuck on a go cart track”. He implied that she was much more talented than her brother, Richard, is. I got a kick out of that observation.

Karen Carpenter… Dr. Grande implies that her wings were clipped by her brother… Frankly, I think her mother was more of a wing clipper.

Personally, I disagree with Dr. Grande that Karen’s talent was that much more impressive than Richard’s is. They had strengths in different areas. Richard is a fantastic pianist, and he’s a great arranger. He knew what songs went best with Karen’s vocals. Karen was a magnificent singer and drummer. Together, they worked well. Both of them worked apart with somewhat less success. I do think that Karen and Richard had a very controlling mother, and personally, I think if anyone should be blamed for what happened to Karen Carpenter, it could be her mom that deserves the most shade. Agnes Carpenter was overbearing and overreaching… and she didn’t want her children to be independent adults. Moreover, she obviously favored Richard, which probably took a toll on Karen’s self esteem. Maybe that had to do with her development of anorexia nervosa. I don’t know.

Anyway… I enjoyed watching Dr. Grande’s video about Karen Carpenter and realized he’d done a bunch of similar videos about other celebrities. It occurred to me that it would be interesting to hear his thoughts on Christy Henrich, a brilliant 80s era gymnast who famously perished from anorexia nervosa in 1994. So I left him a comment. Maybe he’ll read and heed it. I really think it would be interesting to hear Dr. Todd Grande’s deadpan views about Christy’s public struggle with anorexia. She had a tremendous work ethic, which extended to her illness. At one point, Christy’s weight fell to 47 pounds. It’s not that I admire her for being that emaciated. It’s more of a comment on her sheer will power and relentless pursuit of her goals, self-destructive as they were. I’m sure a mental health expert would have a lot to say about her.

A video a YouTuber made about Christy Henrich.

In the meantime, below is a repost of an article I wrote in February 2014 about Christy Henrich for my original blog. It was inspired because Bill and I went on a “hop” to Spain and Portugal in January of that year. On the way back to Texas, we landed in Missouri and drove through Christy’s hometown of Independence, Missouri. I thought of her as I realized how much Missouri reminds me of Virginia. As usual, the repost appears “as/is”.

Remembering Christy Henrich

Back in the late 1980s, I had a brief but intense obsession with watching gymnastics.  I would catch meets on ESPN or Home Team Sports.  In those days, ESPN only had one channel and I believe HTS is now defunct.  I remember seeing very old footage of Shannon Miller when she was just 12 years old.  I remember watching Brandy Johnson and Phoebe Mills.  I could never so much as turn a cartwheel myself, but I really enjoyed watching the tiny girls compete.  I admired them for being so tough and strong.  I was into horses myself, though.

I also remember Christy Henrich, who was less than a month younger than me.  When I first saw her, she reminded me a bit of a soccer player.  Short and muscular without an ounce of fat on her, she didn’t have the long, graceful limbs of the Russian or Romanian gymnasts.  But she was very strong and had an amazing work ethic.  Her coach, Al Fong, even called her E.T. for extra tough. Sometimes, that extra tough work ethic worked against her, as you can see in the video below.

This may have even been the first meet I ever saw Christy in… This performance was not very good. The commentators say she “looks tired” and “doesn’t look right”. They also mention that she was warming up way before everyone else was.

Not being privy to anything going on in gymnastics that wasn’t aired on TV, I didn’t know about Christy Henrich’s eventual slide into anorexia nervosa and bulimia.  Back in those days, I had a bit of an obsession about eating disorders, too.  I knew a lot about them and even flirted with them.  If I had known about Christy, I might have even admired her for her anorexia.  That’s how dumb I was at 16.

Christy Henrich at 17

I remember watching the very intense 1988 Summer Olympics gymnastics trials.  I was kind of rooting for Kristie Phillips, an adorable strawberry blonde who had seemed poised for gymnastics stardom.  A growth spurt and weight gain had sidelined her in 1987 and she was back to try to win a spot on the team.  She placed 8th and was named a second alternate.  She would not be going to Seoul unless someone got hurt.  Christy Henrich missed the team altogether by .0118 of a point.  There was no hope for her at all, unless she set her sights on 1992 in Barcelona.

About Kristie Phillips, who also suffered from an eating disorder.
Kristie Phillips was on Oprah, along with Christy’s mom and boyfriend. Here, she talks about her suicidal ideation after she missed the Olympic team.

In 1990, a judge supposedly told Christy Henrich after a meet in Budapest, Hungary that in order to be a serious contender for the Olympics, she would need to lose weight.  At 4’11” and 93 pounds, Christy didn’t have much weight to lose.  But she took the judge’s words to heart and went on a serious diet, quickly shedding five pounds.  She was praised for the weight loss at first, but then she slid headlong into a battle that would eventually cost her her life.

Christy Henrich in 1990

By January 1991, she had lost so much weight that her coach, Al Fong, kicked her out of the gym.  A week after he kicked her out, she came in to tell him she was quitting the sport.  Though she had a loving family and a boyfriend who wanted to marry her, the eating disorders had taken hold of her.  On July 26, 1994, she died of multiple organ failure.  She had just turned 22 years old and she weighed less than 60 pounds.  At one point, her weight was just 47 pounds.

A clip from a 1995 episode of Oprah in which Christy’s mother and boyfriend talk about her struggles with eating disorders.  

I remember reading Joan Ryan’s book, Little Girls in Pretty Boxes.  In fact, I read an excerpt of it in the Washington Post just days before I left the country for Armenia to serve in the Peace Corps.  When I got home in 1997, I bought the book and read it.  It was about female gymnasts and figure skaters.  In 2000, Ryan updated the book, including discussion about Dominique Moceanu’s desire to be emancipated from her parents because her father was spending her money. 

I don’t know what made me think of Christy today.  It’s not her birthday or the anniversary of her death, though in July of this year, she will have been dead for 20 years.  That amazes me.  It seems like yesterday, we were 22 years old.  The older you get, the faster time flies.

Last month, as Bill and I worked our way back to Texas from our trip abroad, we drove through Christy’s hometown of Independence, Missouri.  We stayed a night in Kansas City, which is where Christy died.  For some reason, I even thought about Christy’s mother as we passed through.  It was frigid during our brief time there and, looking around, it didn’t look like the kind of place that would excite me.  On the other hand, I did notice how nice and folksy everyone seemed to be.  It seems like the kind of place you could get to know your neighbors.

Christy Henrich in 1987.

I’m sure that the last twenty years have been tough for all who knew and loved Christy Henrich.  What happened to her was just gruesome.  I still like watching gymnastics today, but remember Christy’s story reminds me that the sport has a bit of a dark side.  To read more about Christy Henrich, I recommend the book Little Girls in Pretty Boxes.  

An eye opening read.

Edited to add: in 2014, I still had no idea how dark gymnastics can be… that was before we knew about John Geddert and Larry Nassar.

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education, psychology, teen help

Circle of Hope Ranch: Another Missouri Christian “teen help” snake pit closes…

Good morning, everybody. I am writing today’s post on my new laptop. It’s the first laptop I have bought since July 2014, just before we moved back to Germany from Texas. I bought my first laptop because my computer had been shipped and I predicted wanting to have a computer for the times when I traveled. It seems crazy to buy a new computer for travel now… especially since my old machine still works. But since I’m not having much fun right now, I decided it was time to upgrade. I have Bill’s blessing, too!

This morning, I became aware of yet another Christian boarding school in Missouri that was just closed. The fact that this school was in Missouri is noteworthy, since Missouri is notorious for having little oversight over private boarding schools, such as the now defunct Mountain Park Baptist Boarding Academy. Consequently, there are a lot of “teen help” type schools in that state, especially those affiliated with independent Baptist churches. These schools are often located in tiny, rural towns and are set up on vast, remote plots of land, free from the prying eyes of neighbors and authorities, and hard for the children to escape.

The name of the school I’m writing of today is Circle of Hope Girls’ Ranch and Boarding School. This place, located in Humansville, a hamlet in southwestern Missouri, was run by Christian couple Boyd and Stephanie Householder, aged 71 and 55 respectively. Boyd Householder faces 79 felony counts and one misdemeanor, which include “charges for child molestation, sodomy, sexual contact with a student and neglect of a child.” His wife, Stephanie, is charged with 22 felony counts of “abuse or neglect of a child, and endangering the welfare of a child.”

News item about Circle of Hope Ranch.

The alleged abuses took place between 2017 and 2020, although Boyd Householder opened the school in 2006. He claimed that his methods could “reform rebellious teenage girls.” His allegedly abusive brand of straightening out hundreds of girls went unabated until his own daughter, Amanda, spoke out on Tik Tok. Amanda has not spoken to her parents since 2016. The school’s official Web site is now defunct, but you can access an archived version of it here.

Having done my fair share of studying these types of boarding schools, it comes as no surprise to me that the Householders are accused of using cruel methods to control their charges. The Christian couple is accused of withholding food, restraining girls, and forcing them to do manual labor. Girls were allegedly restrained with handcuffs and zip ties, and gagged with dirty socks. It occurs to me that the Householders may have stumbled across an effective way to satisfy their needs… free labor that parents actually PAID them to force their daughters to do, and sexual kink. The fact that Householder used dirty sock gags and hard restraints on teenaged girls suggests to me that he’s likely a sexual deviant.

Besides obviously being perverted, Householder also supposedly told one of his charges how to commit suicide. He also allegedly pushed a girl down stairs. Past residents have also alleged that Householder slammed girls’ heads against walls, kept them in strict isolation, poured hot sauce in their mouths, and used duct tape and socks to prevent a girl from using her hands. Boyd Householder’s wife, Stephanie, was less of a participant in the abuse, but aided and abetted her husband in committing them.

As I write this post this morning, I’m watching the latest season of 60 Days In, a reality show that has civilians voluntarily entering jails undercover in an effort to help wardens improve security and get information about what goes on inside their facilities. As horrific, dangerous, and violent jails are, at least in the vast majority of them, inmates have basic human rights and some knowledge of when they might be released. Teenagers that are sent to the “therapeutic” or “religious” boarding schools often have no idea when they might be allowed to leave. And they have little to no contact with anyone who can or will advocate for them.

Where was the oversight? Didn’t parents or child welfare workers take note? Well, according to NBC News, legal authorities did receive numerous complaints about Circle of Hope– at least 19 reports were logged since the school was opened in 2006. But thanks to Missouri’s lax laws regarding private school oversight, no actions were ever taken. Consequently, there have been many cases of abuse and even a few deaths at religious and/or military reform schools like Circle of Hope. I mentioned Mountain Park, in Patterson, Missouri, earlier in this post. That school closed in 2004, but eight years prior to its closure, a student was murdered there by another student. There was also a death at the now defunct Thayer Learning Center, a Mormon/military based program based in Kidder, Missouri, when a student collapsed there.

I’ve been following these types of reform programs for about twenty years. Progress has been made, since a lot of the worst programs have been shut down. However, as the news about Circle of Hope suggests, there are still programs out there that operate without any oversight and employ extremely abusive methods to control teens. And a lot of the people running the schools are deviants who are looking after children who need help from trained professionals. But even some of the so called professionals are ill equipped and unsuitable for the job.

I wrote about a program that was located near where I grew up. Hopesville Christian Academy had a history of taking in troubled teens from all over the state of Virginia. Many times, the care was paid for by taxpayers. But then it turned out that the man running the school, who had inherited the job from his father-in-law who had founded it, was sexually abusing his charges.

Also, back in 2008, I became aware of a deviant social worker from Middlesex County, Virginia, the county adjacent to my hometown of Gloucester, Virginia. The social worker, Arthur Bracke, had worked with abused children for many years. But he was also abusing them himself. After he retired from his job, he was outed for being a deviant and wound up in prison, where he later died. As someone who has a MSW myself, it is shocking to me that this man got away with molesting and abusing so many children and managed to retire from his job before he was finally discovered. Before his arrest, Bracke tried to murder one of the three sons he had adopted from the foster care system by intentionally setting his rented house on fire while the 19 year old boy was sleeping in it.

Although there are some good people who work with teens, there are also a lot of bad people. And they take advantage of stressed out, desperate, frustrated parents who just want to pain to end. The kids go off to “rehab” and their parents are kept unaware of what’s going on with their child. Many times, the youngsters come out of these schools scarred by the abuse and traumatized forever. Or, in worse cases, the children end up dying from abuse, neglect, or murder.

I’m glad to read that another school has been shut down. I just wish it had never been allowed to open and operate without any oversight whatsoever. My heart breaks for the children who were forced to endure the abuses at Circle of Hope and other schools like it. Life is hard enough without having your parents send you away to a place where your life is controlled by criminals. I hope justice is served in the Householders’ case. I am all for them getting a fair trial, but I have learned that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. It will be interesting to read what becomes of them as they move through the legal system… and I hope Missouri lawmakers are paying attention and take some action to stop these abusive programs. I also hope parents open their eyes and get wise to these places.

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complaints, condescending twatbags, rants, religion

“He needs to attach his ass to a Soloflex… PERMANENTLY!”

Apparently, we should all aspire to look like Melania, scowl-face, Trump…

Today’s blog post title is a direct quote uttered by my old friend, Jamie, back in the early 1990s. At the time, we were working at Busch Gardens, wearing ugly, polyester, fake lederhosen uniforms. The uniforms were as unflattering as they were uncomfortable, and had an unfortunate tendency to give us wedgies. We had a co-worker who usually suffered more than most in the heat and humidity of Virginia’s summers. Glancing over at our obviously out of shape colleague, who was dripping sweat and had recently annoyed us by being authoritative out of turn, my friend said, “He needs to attach his ass to a Soloflex.”

I probably said something inane like, “You mean he needs to work out on a Soloflex?”

“No, I mean he needs to attach his ass to one. PERMANENTLY.” Jamie snarled.

I had a good laugh at Jamie’s snark. I’ve always enjoyed his quips, which are usually acidly witty, occasionally shocking, and uniformly hilarious. I remember years later, I shared an article with him about how French men supposedly need the largest condoms in Europe. And Jamie said something along the lines of, “Well that only stands to reason, since they are the biggest dicks.”

Sometimes, I wish I could come up with obnoxious zingers so quickly. On the other hand, I do have my moments. Especially when I’m in a certain mood.

Hey Pastor Clark… here’s something for you to think about.

So what brings up today’s topic? It’s this post I read today about a pastor in Missouri who advises his female congregants to “look pretty” so their husbands won’t go astray. This dude, Stewart-Allen Clark, who looks like he ought to “attach his ass to a Soloflex… PERMANENTLY!”, as Jamie would say, told the ladies of his flock to lose weight, look hotter, and submit to their husbands’ sexual desires, so they won’t stray. And he said this with a straight face, as he looks a bit like ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag himself. Clark also told the ladies to wear makeup, choose appropriate hairstyles, dress up, and avoid looking “butch”.

Here’s the sermon in question.

This guy, walking around looking like a fucking slob, says it’s “really important” for a man to have a “beautiful woman” on his arm. He says that to your man, you “should be the most beautiful woman in the world.” Then he goes on to talk about how women “let themselves go” after they get married. Then he qualifies and says, “I know not every woman can look like a Melania Trump trophy wife… maybe you’re more of a ‘participation trophy.'”

Here’s a little mood music for Pastor Stewart-Allen Clark and his ilk.

Wow…

And as I listen to this guy speak, I can’t help but notice he ain’t no great shakes himself. And there “ain’t nothin’ attractive” about a big fat slob on a stage spouting off sexist bullshit about how women look as he talks about how “visual” men are. He says, “God made men to be drawn to ‘beautiful women'”.”

This showed up in my Facebook memories yesterday. How apropos! Guys, it goes both ways.

What qualifies a woman as “beautiful”? I know some women that most people would consider quite plain in terms of their physical appearances. It has nothing to do with their being lazy. They just weren’t blessed with what many people would consider classically attractive looks. And yet, in many ways, they are still beautiful because of some other quality that doesn’t immediately meet the eye. They’re intelligent, or quick witted, or talented in some way. They have a kind heart; or they’re generous. They’re good cooks or athletic or easy to talk to. There are so many ways a person can be “beautiful”, and not all of them are limited to the physical.

On the other hand, I can think of some women that many people consider beautiful, but they’re not good people. They’re dishonest, or narcissistic, or manipulative. They’re disloyal or irresponsible or mean. Lots of people are attracted to them because they’re nice to look at. But the minute you start speaking to them, you find out they’re shallow and callous. And they’re not much fun to be around because of that.

Pastor Clark goes on to admit that he doesn’t do marriage counseling anymore because a lot of times, when married people would come to him for advice about intimacy, he would be brutally honest and upset the wives. He says one couple came to him. She looked like a “sumo wrestler” and he was a “little guy”. The guy said he wasn’t attracted to his wife because she was a fat “beeeep”. The woman then proceeded to beat the crap out of him. Then she lost 100 pounds and got pregnant with their second child… which would, of course, cause her to gain weight.

But, I mean, seriously… Clark excuses men for looking like the Michelin Man and being all sweaty and gross. Then he says that his wife used to be quite “robust”… then someone corrects him with the word “healthy”. Oh yes, “thank you!” he says.

Then he says that she knows he looks at other women. She wants him to look at her, and nobody else. So she lost a lot of weight and goes around saying, “Food never tastes as good as skinny feels.” Clark says he’s glad that his wife understands that all men are this way… and he also loves make up. Apparently, all men like make up, too. And you don’t want to be “ugly” and “stink”… or look butch. Because God forbid you smell of hormones or sweat or menstrual fluid… or any of the other body fluids we all encounter. Don’t ruin the illusion of beauty, girls, by letting your men know that you have to shit, too.

But then I look at Clark and hope his wife doesn’t get crushed under him or repelled by his body odor and bad breath. He really ought to take his own advice… especially as he talks about how women gain weight because of thyroid and prostate problems. Hello? I don’t know any women who have prostate glands. Then he bitches about how women “always” cut their hair after they get married.

The Bible does come up. He says that men should post this on the headboards of their beds:

1 Corinthians 7:4

The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.

How egalitarian! But I don’t hear Clark saying that men need to look their best for their wives. I only hear him berating women for not trying hard enough… (heh heh, I said hard…) to make their men hard by looking “hawt”. And that’s the only way to keep them from straying. I also don’t hear Clark emphasizing that second part AT ALL. He’s probably a lay preacher… (heh heh, I said lay…)

I’m really lucky. My husband is a wonderful, classy, and loving man. He is intelligent, sensitive, evolved, and loyal. And he appreciates me for the way I am. I know he does. I don’t know how I got so lucky. But then, Bill didn’t choose me after seeing me across a crowded room. He chose me because I engaged his mind first. He appreciated my imagination, my sense of humor, my ability to keep him interested and the fact that I was just as interested in him. And Bill is smart enough to know that the sexiest part of anyone is not something you can see externally. It’s the mind… it’s what’s inside that matters most. I also know that Bill has already been divorced and doesn’t want to divorce again.

When the situation calls for it, yes, I do gussy up. When we go out to a nice restaurant that doesn’t require PPE, I’ll put on a dress and makeup. I fix my hair and wear jewelry. So does Bill. We still look like a cute couple, too. But if I’m just going to hang out with the dogs all day, no I’m not putting on makeup for that. I’ll be clean and brush my teeth and hair and take care of all of that other hygiene stuff. Bill doesn’t mind. He never has, because he’s a man of substance who sees beneath the surfaces of everyone. He’s probably a much better man than I deserve, to be honest.

I know there are a lot of men out there who are like Pastor Clark, though. They aren’t attracted to women who don’t “meet their standards” or ring their chimes sexually. And then, when they get older and their wives get tired of being told how fat and ugly and unappealing they are, a lot of the men wind up alone. My mom is single now. She’s happy that way. A few years ago, she decided to do a river cruise in Europe. She got many offers from men to accompany her. She declined. After years of taking care of my dad and putting up with his shit, she’s much happier on her own. Believe me, I can tell.

Rosie O’Donnell makes sense… and Donald Trump hates her for it. I’m sure that Pastor Stewart-Allen Clark does, too. Incidentally, Bill has told me his favorite parts of my body are my eyes… followed by my boobs. But if I lose my boobs because of cancer or something, I expect he’ll still love me anyway.

Anyway… I’m glad I don’t go to Pastor Clark’s church. I think he’s a hypocrite, and I don’t like hypocrisy. I hear what he’s saying about the importance of physical attraction. That is important. But it’s a two way street, and there has to be a lot more to the relationship than just physical attraction. Otherwise, you’re gonna get bored. Real women are better than fake ones… and after awhile, real women get tired of having to put on makeup, curling their hair, starving themselves, and whatever else simply to keep a man’s attention. Especially guys like Pastor Stewart-Allen Clark, who needs to attach his ass AND his mouth to a Soloflex… PERMANENTLY.

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politicians, politics, stupid people

I’m so sick of stupid politicians who want to make everyone else stupid, too…

Last night, I came across a petition going around the Internet in response to a bill that has just been presented in Missouri. House Bill 2044, presented by Republican state Representative Ben Baker, is supposedly aiming to “prevent inappropriate sexual content from getting into the hands of kids” by requiring all libraries that receive state funding to have five person “parental library review boards”. The boards would be made up of locally elected officials, who would review content available to children and determine whether or not it’s “appropriate”. The bill also bans state funded libraries from allowing minors to access “age inappropriate” materials. And any librarian that willfully violates the law could be subject to a $500 fine and up to a year in jail.

I was pretty disgusted by the bill, especially since, when I was growing up, I read a lot of stuff that would have been deemed “age inappropriate” by some people. I have always been a reader, and I was fortunate enough to have parents who let me read pretty much whatever I wanted without any interference. If I’m honest, my parents mostly didn’t care what I read and would not have wanted to be bothered with giving their permission to read certain books. Under this proposal, I might have been barred from reading certain books, not because my parents objected, but because they weren’t that interested.

I think that ideally, the people who should be determining what is, and what is not, age appropriate reading for their children are parents, not elected officials, who may be pushing their own agendas. In a state like Missouri, my guess is that the boards would consist of a lot of religious right wing types… you know, the ones who say the government needs to butt out of everyone’s private business (unless it involves a uterus and a developing embryo, that is).

Mr. Baker apparently thinks this measure is necessary, even though librarians already go through extensive training to determine what is and what is not “appropriate” for library collections. The five elected officials on a “parental library review board” are unlikely to have any special training regarding reading materials, but they probably will have their own attitudes and agendas to push.

Says Baker,

“The main thing is I want to be able to take my kids to a library and make sure they’re in a safe environment, and that they’re not gonna be exposed to something that is objectionable material,” Baker told local news station KOAM. “Unfortunately, there are some libraries in the state of Missouri that have done this. And that’s a problem.”

Um… Mr. Baker– as a parent, you are ultimately responsible for making sure your kids are not “gonna be exposed to something that is objectionable material.” It’s not for you or anyone else to determine what is objectionable or unsafe reading for other people’s children. Stay in your lane.

Some people have already expressed outrage over this bill, but Mr. Baker stubbornly argues,

“If the adult wanted to, and said I’m okay with my child reading this or looking at this, then they could check that out, and have that available for their child,” Baker argued. “I just think that we need to be careful about funding something with our taxpayer dollars without parental consent.”

So it should be up to your Republican buddies to make those decisions for everyone and they alone should determine what should be in the children’s section? The ones who think gays and lesbians and transgendered people are mentally ill and going to Hell? The ones who promote abstinence education, even though it doesn’t work (just check the teen pregnancy and STI statistics in Republican states where sex education consists solely of abstinence education)? The ones who want to push a Christian agenda in public schools by forcing everyone to pray, and eliminating any discussion of evolution over creationism? And what if some of those “elected officials” turn out to be more liberal than the others and “objectionable material” (by your standards) still slips into the children’s section? Yeah… that sounds like a fine plan for the 21st century. NOT.

I can’t wrap my head around this. We have so many other issues that are far more pressing than book banning in a country that is supposed to be all about freedom of expression. Hell… today’s American school children have to worry about whether or not they’ll survive the school day. Reading a book that might be slightly out of their age range or understanding isn’t the end of the world.

But, as Mr. Baker is “a minister, missionary and former dean of students at Ozark Bible Institute and College”, I guess I can see where his limited world view comes from. I’m sure he’s got no problem with children being exposed to guns and would rather see a couple dozen of them mowed down at school in the name of protecting gun rights than he would want to have them learn about different lifestyles, religious beliefs, and alternative sexual preferences through reading. God forbid we actually teach children to be Christ-like– you know, kind, loving, accepting, forgiving, compassionate, understanding and non-judgmental.

Even though Republicans claim to be about saving taxpayers’ money, they don’t seem to have the tiniest issue with throwing people in jail for non-violent offenses, even though it costs a lot of money to warehouse inmates and affects their ability to earn a living for the rest of their lives. Incarceration also affects their families– especially their children— on many levels! Does Mr. Baker really think it’s worth jailing a highly educated librarian, potentially ruining his or her career, over a young person reading a book like Lady Chatterly’s Lover or Slaughterhouse Five against the elected officials’ wishes? Incidentally, it’s been my experience that kids who really want to read something will find a way to do it. Amazon delivers, y’all… straight to the Kindle, even.

I understand that many Americans think that religious people, particularly those who swing to the right of the political spectrum, are the only type of people who should be making our laws. I guess that being outside of the United States for several years, in a place where religion isn’t the end all be all of all things, has shown me that some people in the United States could really use a mental enema and a trip or two abroad. In any case, I’m sure it’s clear what I think of Mr. Baker’s desire to censor things that offend his tender Republican religious sensibilities. I know some people think religion is a wonderful thing, but the older I get, the more I think that many super religious people should be completely barred from politics.

Bottom line– kids should be encouraged to read as much as they can. And they should have the freedom to read whatever interests them, ideally with parental guidance of course. And it should NOT be up to a group of “five elected officials” who have NO TRAINING whatsoever in library science, but plenty of political and religious agendas, to determine what is “acceptable” for children to read. Republicans are always crowing about how child rearing decisions should be “up to the parents”. Well, this issue is no different. Let parents decide what their kids are allowed to read and trained librarians determine which books belong in the children’s section. “Elected officials” with an obvious religious agenda should stay out of that decision.

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