Thursday, June 22, 2006

Facts about Cuba, for kids.

ACLU has apparently just filed a lawsuit challenging the Miami-Dade School Board's decision to ban a children's book about Cuba (the original story can be found here). The book in question is aimed at children in the lower elementary school grades, and the offending material includes such passages as: "People in Cuba eat, work, and go to school like you do." From the description, it sounds like this is accompanied by cheerful pictures of children frollicking, et cetera. The book's critics argue that text like this over-simplifies and sanitizes the reality in Cuba to the point that it is factually misleading. ACLU is obviously arguing that the ban represents an infringement on free speech. Unless later pages include Fidel Castro yo' mama jokes or the illustrations are full of lewd gestures, I'm thinking an argument of either obscenity or pornography is a stretch. Moreover, this is a school, so it's the perfect place to make the book's portrayal of Cuba a topic of conversation. I guess I can understand the parents' concerns about the way the material is being spun, and I don't envy them the job of trying to describe communism and Castro to a first grader. I can imagine this would be even more troubling if the material were more insidious. But that's why freedom of speech in the abstract is sometimes a lot easier to deal with than freedom of speech in the specific.


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