An Aug. 29 CNSNews.com column by Matt Barber, policy director for cultural issues at Concerned Women for America, is an attack on a book for teens that pulls quotes out of context and doesn't mention what the book is about.
Barber bashes an Illinois school district for assigning "summer reading to 12- and 13-year-olds that is replete with harsh profanity and references to teen sex (even teen sex with adults)." He then offers salacious quotes from "one of the books," "Fat Kid Rules the World" by K. L. Going. Barber accused the school district of "educational malpractice" for purportedly "willingly -- if not eagerly -- contribut[ing] to their moral degradation by pushing this kind of vulgarity on them." But nowhere does Barber tell readers what the book is about or in what context those quotes appear.
So, what is this purportedly offensive book about? Here's a summary from Common Sense Media, which
Troy, a 300-pound high-schooler, is contemplating jumping in front of a train when he meets Curt, an emaciated, homeless, guitar-playing, drop-out legend in his school. Before he knows what has hit him, Troy has agreed to be the drummer in a new band Curt is forming, despite not playing drums. With a faith in him that Troy doesn't understand, Curt is Troy's nightmare and dream come true, often at the same time.
Though Troy's father suspects that Curt's a junkie, he ultimately supports Troy's efforts to learn the drums, the first thing he has seemed interested in since his mother died. But getting involved in Curt's world of punk rock and street life is more than any of them bargained for.
Common Sense Media raises caution flags about much of the book's content, but rather than issing blanket condemnations, it states for most of those flags, "know your kid." It seems to believe, unlike Barber, that the book covers subjects that adolescents can learn from. Indeed, as the reviewer states:
Troy's father, ex-military, is a rigid stereotype in Troy's, and for a while the reader's, eyes. But from Curt's point of view, and in the midst of crisis, his faults morph into virtues without too much gong-beating from the author. As often happens when we meet someone who has real problems, Curt brings with him a dramatic perspective shift, and young readers may have cause to reassess their opinions of their own parents.
Is that not a message Barber can endorse?
Common Sense Media aims to "provide trustworthy information and tools, as well as an independent forum, so that families can have a choice and a voice about the media they consume." It appears to be using more common sense and logic than Barber.