It was the dustup over teaching “Brokeback Mountain” at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School here in Austin that led to last fall’s creation of AS IF! (Authors Support Intellectual Freedom). The September issue of Texas Monthly has a terrific feature on the St. Andrew’s saga, and while AS IF! doesn’t get a mention, I still highly recommend the article for anyone interested in the background, human element, and whatnot of this particular battle.
A couple of things in the article that struck me:
1) People, if you think your side has a claim to the high road, please stay there. A supporter of the English teacher at the center of the “Brokeback” controversy — and a St. Andrew’s teacher himself — compared a family opposed to the curriculum to “Lee Harvey Oswald, Timothy McVeigh, and the Ku Klux Klan.” I hardly see how this helped.
2) The $3 million pledge to the school that got yanked by a family opposed to the story was more than made up for — to the tune of an additional $1 million — by subsequent pledges stemming from the publicity. This strikes me as merely a jumbo-scale example of how challenged books benefit from the attention directed their way by citizens intent on imposing their values on other people’s children. (For a tiny-scale example, see my own household, where 7-year-old S would not currently be reading — and thoroughly enjoying — It’s So Amazing! were it not for all the negative attention it receives from some quarters. )