Friday, November 19, 2004

California: Gymnastics incorrect: "Some cartwheels and handstands sent an 11-year-old West Covina girl tumbling into the principal's office and booted out of school this week. Deirdre Faegre, a sixth-grader at San Jose-Edison Academy ... was suspended Tuesday when school authorities warned her for the last time to stop doing gymnastic stunts during lunchtime. ... Denise Patton, principal of San Jose-Edison Academy, said she's tried everything to keep from suspending Deirdre. ... 'Our first concern is the safety of all of our children,' she said. These gymnastics have 'created an unsafe situation for herself and others.' Another child could walk into Deirdre's path and get hit, or an open door could smack her while she's performing a stunt, she noted. ... Deirdre's father, Leland -- who has run several times as a Libertarian candidate in various elections -- said it is ridiculous a little girl is getting suspended for doing cartwheels when sports like basketball are being allowed."


"Forget the history wars. Now we have the hippopotamus war, a cultural battleground where the content of a children's book will be rewritten to suit the time's moral climate and mores of parental discipline.

A request by publisher Penguin for author Hazel Edwards to change the text of her 1979 book, There's a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake, sparked a flurry of debate around censorship and authorial control, children's books as moral education, and whether books are documents of history whose content should remain fixed. Penguin, who is reprinting the classic, and Edwards have agreed to change the line "Daddy gave me a smack", which refers to the book's main character scribbling on her father's best book.

A reluctant Edwards at first resisted the change. She had been following the progress of a British parliamentary debate over smacking and wrote to a newspaper on the issue, regarding the push by the UK child protection lobby to have smacking banned as "political correctness in the extreme".... "This is a smack that is a consequence of an action, which is a very minor part (of the book)," Edwards says. "I think what's important is the broader issue of whether this (text) should change because historically this book has been around for 25 years and that's a very long time.""

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