Remember Smokin’ Drinkin’ Jesus? Maybe your memory isn’t as..shall we say.. specialized as mine is. Back in February I found out about a school book publisher in India that chose a hilariously bad Jesus picture for one of its lesson books and got into a shitload of hot water.
Now I’ve learned another publishing company let a Jesus insult slip through the proofreading sieve.
Nine years ago.
It’s Barbara Ehrenreich’s book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. I’ve read that (and I highly recommend it) but I don’t recall the particular phrase that’s made a headline in this case. The book was published in 2001 and it’s only causing a stir now because a teacher at a school in New Hamshire used it for a class assignment and in a typical, overbearing Christian parental way, one set of parents kicked up a fuss and called for the book’s removal from the school. They’re appalled by Ehrenreich calling Jesus a “wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist” after reporting on what occurred at a revival she attended.
Aimee and Dennis Taylor were so upset at the passage in the book about Jesus that they took their 16-year-old son out of school and are now homeschooling him. “He told us the language in the book was horrible,” Aimee argued in front of the School Board. “If there was a movie about this book and they stayed faithful to the book and used the same quotes, he would be too young to see the movie,” her husband added.
Taylor believes the book is Anti-Christian, delivers a drug promoting message and uses obscene language.
They can believe what they want. That doesn’t make it true. It’s been a while since I read it, but I do recall the book is actually about trying to survive on minimum wage and how fucking hard it is to do. Ehrenreich made some arrangement with her publisher to try four or five jobs across the States, working a few months at each of them, and writing about her experiences in each place. I recall one was with something like Daisy Maid, I think she waitressed somewhere, might have cleaned hotel rooms, and I think some time got put into Wal-Mart or some similar retail establishment. What I really remember out of that book is how she says nothing great about some of the ways that work gets done. People aren’t paid well enough to give a damn about doing the work well and don’t have the time to do it well anyway on account of just how much shit needs doing on a shift. After a few years of Wal-mart under my belt at the time I read it, I’m sure I agreed with many of her assessments, too.
Anyway, a school review committee took the side of sense and ruled against the family, stating that the book had educational merit. And the school did offer the Taylor boy a choice of another assignment to do instead but he (or his parents?) declined.
After all, it’s far more fun to freak out in the direction of a willing media and get named in the paper than it is to actually buckle down and do the assignment.
edit 5:35 am – the AP has a better article about this than the one I linked to.