Shire Network News #114 has been released. The feature interview is with Jonah Goldberg (yes, that Jonah Goldberg).  His new book, Liberal Fascism, is causing a bit of a stir among liberals who don’t understand.  There is a whole blog about the books reception set up at the National ReviewClick here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary.

Hi, this is Doug Payton with Shire Network News, asking you to "Consider This!"

You and I have all heard those children’s fairy tales as kids, I’m sure; Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Jack & the Beanstalk, the Three Little Pigs.  And we turned out OK, didn’t we? 

Well, a British government agency for educational technology, Becta, has rejected a digital book for kids based on the Three Little Pigs, and the reasons for that rejection may surprise you.  Or not.  "The Three Little Cowboy Builders", put out by the publisher Shoo-fly, has already won the Education Resource Award, but it won’t be able to get the BETT Award since the Becta agency is a leading partner in that, and Becta has some serious concerns about this bit of literature.

(For those who aren’t familiar with the British term "cowboy builder", such as myself, Brian of London has educated me.  Apparently, they are builders of ill repute that often don’t do a job that is up to specs.  The digital book uses this idea for a little humor.)

There is, of course, the now-classic issue of offending Muslims, forgetting, of course, that, as far as I know, there have been no Jihads or other unpleasantness because of the telling of the Three Little Pigs in nursery schools throughout the Western world.  But this is the post-9/11 world, and the liberal mindset in our educational institutions has decided that nothing that "oinks" is fit for general public consumption.  Pity the poor 2nd grader who passes a barbeque restaurant.  Maybe it’s time to ban them.

But the Becta agency didn’t stop there.  Oh no, they found all manner of nits to pick with this "subversive" story.  It’s not just that the pigs may offend Muslims, but the whole story may offend (ready for this?) the building trade.  To quote the judges, "Is it true that all builders are cowboys, builders get their work blown down, and builders are like pigs?"

I’d like to offer my advice from years of experience to the agency and answer these questions for them, definitively; no, No, and NO!  These judges, the story notes, are mostly practicing educators, so in the interest of academics, I’d like to anticipate any further confusions these "educators" may have and answer some unasked questions.

Can bears make porridge?  No.

Can bears talk among themselves about who or what has been using their bedroom furniture?  No.

Do bears even have bedroom furniture?  No.

Are all little blonde girls prone to walk into strange houses and make themselves at home?  No.

Do all geese lay eggs made of pure gold?  No.  How would they propagate the species?

Are all giants hungry for Englishmen? No.

Are there any giants who live in the clouds, and who are accessible by impossibly large vegetable plants?  No.

And finally, no, wolves will not come by your house and blow it to the ground.  Well, as long as it’s made of brick. 

And just so we reduce further the chance of offense, how about we try this: This little Becta employee went to market, this little Becta employee stayed home….  Hmm, maybe not.  I’m sure it would cause our children to think that all government employees are lazy and just go shopping. 

Is this yet another example of political correctness and hyper-sensitivity run amok?  No, actually.  Simply the existence of political correctness and hyper-sensitivity are enough to visit this nonsense upon us.  No amok-running required. 

A spokesman for Becta said that the digital book was not put on the short list for winners because, "it failed to reach the required standard across a number of criteria".  One wonders how low one must reach to locate those standards. 

My advice would be; Shoo-fly, don’t bother them.  You just keep doing what you do best.  We’ve got your back.

Consider that.

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