Thursday, May 20, 2010

Writing=Punishment, Redux

Those who read the news, and I love to read the news— the odder, the better— have probably already seen this story. A ten-year-old student in a public school in Texas has been punished for possessing a dangerous substance— a Jolly Rancher candy. News headlines have touted her weeklong detention, but careful readers will note that she was also assigned "an essay" which is a punishment, rather than a mere assignment, in modern America. While I hate this abominable misuse of my subject matter, there was no surprise. None.

More recently, a solicitor in Forest Park, Georgia (one of the many suburbs of Atlanta) ordered a teenager to write 2500 sentences for passing a school bus with its stop sign extended. Now, that is an offense worthy of punishment, but why not make the offender do couple hundred math problems? I'd view that as punishment aplenty, but no, it is my beloved subject matter and my favorite hobby which is once again used by a warped authority figure as a whip to inflict punishment.

"The invention of mass printing practices changed our world and the print invention is regarded by many as the invention of the millennium." Indeed, writing is one of the most important distinctions between civilization and the lack thereof. Is this thrashing of the written word the beginning of a decent into literary darkness?

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