Teaching Behind The Eightball, by Mike Gold

Mike Gold

ComicMix's award-winning and spectacularly shy editor-in-chief Mike Gold also performs the weekly two-hour Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind ass-kicking rock, blues and blather radio show on The Point, www.getthepointradio.com and on iNetRadio, www.iNetRadio.com (search: Hit Oldies) every Sunday at 7:00 PM Eastern, rebroadcast three times during the week – check www.getthepointradio.com above for times and on-demand streaming information.

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20 Responses

  1. Elayne Riggs says:

    As I mentioned in my last column, what reading material is considered appropriate to sell or give to minors isn’t up to the opinion of the seller or giver, but to the parents or guardians of those minors. In this particular case, according to the New Haven Register, "The girl’s father… described the graphic novel that English teacher Nate Fisher gave the student as ‘borderline pornography.’" Whether it is or isn’t borderline porn isn’t even the point; the fact is that the girl’s father (rightly or wrongly) viewed it that way, and Mr. Fisher made a tactical error in not checking with the parents first to see if it was okay to give the comic to their kid.

    • Mike Gold says:

      I only went to high school for four years, but I can’t recall a single time when any teacher checked with my parents or anybody elses with respect to assigned reading. My father would have vetoed Scarlett Letter on religious grounds. I don’t know where teachers would get the time to contact every single parent about every single reading assignment, and I highly doubt parents would have the time to preemptively read all that stuff anyway.

      Unless you think this rule should only apply to comic books (excuse me, graphic novels) and not to any other form of literature. At which point, we still disagree. Respectfully, of course.

      • Alan Coil says:

        My favorite English teacher in High School sent out permission slips so we could read Catcher In The Rye. I can see where it would be time consuming to handle all that paperwork.Not only was he my favorite English teacher, he also turned out to be the best English teacher I ever had at any level. One college instructor had written his own book and the entire semester was an examination of how great it was. Most boring class I ever had.

      • Elayne Riggs says:

        I think it should apply to something which is not assigned reading and which is given to an individual on a one-to-one basis rather than handed out to a group of students. Fisher didn't give copies of Eightball to everyone, just to this one girl, and it wasn't part of the curriculum.

        • Adriane Nash says:

          I think the idea was everyone in the class read something different. There were plenty of time we were assigned things to read as groups or individuals when I was in school. And i think you are really giving too much credit to the parents of today to know what is or isn't on a given class's curriculum. And this was an assignment tailored for the girl, a make up work she was to cover over a weekend it wasn't for the class. Maybe she should have just taken the zero.

    • John Tebbel says:

      High Schools, among other total institutions, operate "in loco parentis," exercising the rights of parents for a few golden hours, which is why you didn't need a note from your parents to read Wuthering Heights. In Garden City, we read an abridged version of David Copperfield that removed the naughty bits. I swear to G*d. At any school in any state any parent can throw the place into turmoil by finding fault with some piece of schoolwork. These people will inherit the wind, I've read.

      • Mike Gold says:

        And the monkeys should sue for defamation.Don't get me started about the bookburners who remove Mark Twain from the library.

  2. Martha Thomases says:

    In 1964, I got sent home from school in the middle of the day for bringing pornography to class. It was TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Glad to see there's been so much progress in the last 4 1/2 decadaes.

    • Mike Gold says:

      In 1964, I was assigned The Catcher In The Rye. As it is now believed teen-agers will be struck blind by reading that sort of material, I wonder if that one's still on the English class playlists.In terms of protecting society from a deranged teenager, assigning me The Stranger certainly was more catastrophic.

      • Adriane Nash says:

        That’s funny in high school my English class made the teacher do a unit on Catcher. She had opted to leave it off the syllabus more out of looking to diversify her classes from year to year than trying to protect us. But since the entire class had been looking forward to getting to read the book sophomore year we read it on our own and petitioned her to add it to the course coverage.

        I bet there aren’t many high schoolers giving themselves extra schoolwork

  3. Marilee J. Layman says:

    Here in the DC area, we're about equal as to whether the abusing teacher is male or female. Unfortunately, the schools are still banning books.I once tried to get the library to remove a book, but they wouldn't. I was approaching menopause so I picked up some books on that and most of them didn't have anything I didn't know, but one was written in the 70s and had chapters on how you could have unprotected sex now that you couldn't get pregnant. No knowledge of HIV/AIDS, of course, and that's why I wanted it taken out. The librarians kept trying to get me to admit I belonged to some group, but I don't, and they still wouldn't take it out. So the next time I was there, I put postit notes where the book said this, with corrections, and then hid it behind the top shelf of history books. I know that screwed up their catalog, but they shouldn't have that book available.

    • Mike Gold says:

      You know, in it's own way, this is kind of a funny story. I'm not suggesting there's anything funny about HIV/AIDs (except Roy Cohn, of course), and of course what you don't know can kill you.This wouldn't be a problem if kids were taught this stuff in school.

  4. Adriane Nash says:

    At my high school, every year you covered a different play by Shakespere. If you weren't in an honors English class this often meant you read along with a movie. Freshman year was Romeo and Juliet,it was 1989 (pre-Baz Lurhamn R&J) so Mrs. Lapan had to jump up and fast forward so we kiddies wouldn't see nipples.(I took honors English sophomore year we read Julius Caesar, Jr year was MacBeth in non-honors English so we watched Orson Welles and by senior year everyone had already seen Gibson's Hamlet so a few of us campaigned for Henry V but got shot down)

    • Adriane Nash says:

      and yes I know I mispelled Shakespeare! Ugh

      • Marilee J. Layman says:

        Shakespeare himself spelled his name several ways, including the way you did at first.I was in high school in the late 1960s and there was a new movie then and my class went to watch it.

  5. james says:

    so is there anything we can do to help?

    • Mike Gold says:

      That's a great question, James, and it's always an important one. Sadly, Mr. Fisher has resigned his position — he's out of there and, hopefully, on to a better job working under a more reasonable administration and with fellow teachers who are actually vertebrates. You can, should, and probably do pay attention to such sites as the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF.org) and to the First Amendment Foundation (firstamend.org). There are many, many others who remain vigilant in defending our right to free expression — and I invite others to make suggestions here.You can also VOTE for pro-First Amendment candidates. Tell your friends to do the same.And spread the word about comics. Squashua has a great idea about Halloween, posted below.

  6. Squashua says:

    This incident won't stop me from trying to get people to Give Comic Books to Kids for Halloween.