Monday, October 04, 2010

4 OCT 10: Freedom From Fear

So how would you like your life today? Sweet, pure and antiseptic? Or down, dirty and brutally honest? That's the issue in our main topic of the day - and amazingly, it has nothing to do with campaign commercials.

Some Harris County parents have been upset for days, about what a teacher read aloud at New Mountain Hill Elementary School. WTVM reports third and fourth-graders heard a variation of "Little Red Riding Hood," where people do NOT "live happily ever after." But it could have been worse - as there's probably a "Family Guy" parody of the story online somewhere.

The version read at New Mountain Hill was based on a European tale called "Little Red Hat" - where the girl comes across an ogre, instead of a wolf. What do these parents have against ogres? This sort of attitude could explain why Columbus and Harris County have no Kroger stores.

But anyway: the ogre in the fictional "Little Red Hat" kills a grandmother, then leaves parts of the victim's body around the house for the girl to discover. That shouldn't really be surprising. You don't have to change many letters to turn ogre into gore....

And that's the complaint raised by New Mountain Hill parents - that "Little Red Hat" was too gory a story to tell to grade-school children. In fact, it reportedly gave some students nightmares. I assume these parents also don't tell their children about the growing national debt they're going to inherit.

Harris County School Superintendent Craig Dowling agrees with the protesters - that "Little Red Hat" was not appropriate to tell to third and fourth-grade students. If the students watch "C.S.I." or "Bones" at home on television, that's obviously a different matter....

But this comment by the Harris County Superintendent struck me as curious: "We are not in the business of scaring children. We're in the business of educating them." The rules must be different there, compared with Muscogee County - where teenagers view a bloody ambulance drama at the Civic Center every year, and no one seems to complain.

My point is this: doesn't the education process involve fear to some extent? For instance....

+ Aren't grade-school children still warned about what could happen, simply by carelessly crossing the street? After all, a few Harris County schools ARE located along major highways....

+ Don't teachers still threaten to take rebellious or unruly students to "The Office?" Or has that title been diluted by the comedy with Steve Carrell?

+ Aren't youngsters told (ahem) in "sex education" classes about what premarital sex could bring? Or do today's teachers simply assume their students watch "Teen Mom" on MTV?

+ Don't teachers tell students about the fiery punishment potentially awaiting them when they.... oh, wait a minute. This happened at a public school, not Calvary Christian.

As much as we'd like to paint perfect pictures of peace and love to our children, let's be honest - the world at times can be a scary place. Some adults actually use "Little Red Riding Hood" to warn youngsters about the risk of talking to strangers. Reveal the location of Grandma's house, and a modern-day "wolf" might try to sell her a bogus home remodeling plan.

But at New Mountain Hill Elementary, parents are receiving an apology for the story of "Little Red Hat." The teacher who recited the story even plans a personal apology to youngsters. And the final step to balance this out would be a luncheon with the "Red Hat Ladies."

-> We did something during our vacation that some say we should NOT have done. Read about it at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: Only a couple of readers sent messages while we were away. We're holding one for this coming Saturday, but here's the other....

I've heard of shooting fish in a barrel, but I've always assumed that was just an expression. But shooting birds in a bird feeder? [26 Sep] That's pretty whack!

John D

After thinking this over, my neighbors may have picked up that idea by watching cartoons. Have you noticed Wile E. Coyote always marked the "free bird seed" for the Road Runner with a sign written in English?

Other birds are ahead, as we review the news of the weekend....

+ The Gang of Four Columbus mayoral candidates gathered for another forum, this time at the main library. This was their 33rd forum of the year - so instead of asking each other questions, I think the candidates now should take turns reciting each other's answers.

+ Outgoing Mayor Jim Wetherington appeared in a TV commercial, endorsing former assistant Judy Thomas for Columbus Council. Thomas could have done much more with this - such as calling Wetherington "Chief" and putting on a police officer's hat.

(I'm waiting for someone to play the "partisan politics" card with Judy Thomas. Her "JT" logo looks a lot like a Republican elephant to me.)

+ The Kia plant in West Point launched a second shift, producing Hyundais. Take that, Alabama! First Georgia takes some of the automotive work away from Montgomery - and next, Georgia will need all the water in the Chattahoochee River to keep building them.

+ Auburn laughed at Louisiana-Monroe in college football 52-3. The game was so lopsided that Tiger quarterback Cam Newton never ran with the ball. That might please the Auburn coaches - but the radio announcers probably are concerned Newton will be rusty next week.

+ Georgia lost its fourth football game in a row. As Colorado completed a 29-27 win, Buffalo fans ran onto Folsom Field to celebrate. Either they didn't realize the Bulldogs have a losing record - or they forgot Ralphie the Buffalo also runs across that field.

+ Atlanta's baseball team advanced to the National League playoffs by edging Philadelphia 8-7. A divisional series opens Thursday night in San Francisco - and based on another Sunday sports event in Georgia, Atlanta should win in five games.

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