MCMINN COUNTY BANS “MAUS”, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING HOLOCAUST BOOK

Continuing the recent spate of conservative book-banning initiatives, The Mcminn County School board just voted to ban the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel “MAUS” by Art Spiegelman from all of its schools, citing the inclusion of words like “God Damn” and “naked pictures” (illustrations) of women.

There is no video available of the meeting, but here are the MINUTES in their entirety.

We called the board and asked if the book being about the Holocaust had anything to do with the decision, and were told it did not. Still, the climate of conservative censorship, the passage of history-whitewashing laws that threaten fines to teachers who teach the truth, and the push towards the banning of books across the state by groups like “Moms for Liberty” makes it fair to question the timing.

The Vote was  10-0, with Yes votes from: Denise Cunningham, Bill Irvin, Quinten Howard, Sharon Brown, Mike Cochran, Mike Lowry, Donna Casteel, Jonathan Pierce, Tony Allman, Rob Shamblin.

Much of the discussion revolved around how books are selected for the curriculum, with finger-pointing at state standards which have become a popular punching bag among conservatives lately. They also discussed the possibility of redacting the words they found objectionable, but decided it would be better to ban the graphic novel altogether.

Let’s also remember that in East Tennessee we recently saw Coach Hawn fired after 17 years for leading a discussion about White Privilege, which is as real as oxygen. And the Tennessee state legislature recently passed their history-whitewashing “anti-CRT ban” which actually threatens to impose massive fines on teachers/districts that teach the truth about our history, and race.

Regardless of why this decision was made, we’re in a climate where a sustained attack is being made on our schools, our teachers, and the truth. The anti-Critical Race Theory furor ginned up by Republican think tanks for political gain morphed into an excuse for right wing folks to try to cancel diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, and things they don’t agree with in general — and now Conservative book-banning is really having a moment.

We have to teach the truth about our history. Or it will be repeated.

Below is what some of the various board members had to say in the meeting (contact info here):

Tony Allman, School Board Member: “Why does the educational system promote this kind of stuff, it is not wise or healthy… I am not denying it was horrible, brutal, and cruel. It’s like when you’re watching tv and a cuss word or nude scene comes on it would be the same movie without it. Well, this would be the same book without it… If I had a child in the eighth grade, this ain’t happening. If I had to move him out and homeschool him or put him somewhere else, this is not happening.”

Jonathan Pierce, School Board Member: “My objection, and I apologize to everyone sitting here, is that my standards matter- and I am probably the biggest sinner and crudest person in this room, can I lay that in front of a child and say read it, or this is part of your reading assignment?”

Mike Cochran, School Board Member: “I went to school here thirteen years. I learned math, English, Reading and History. I never had a book with a naked picture in it, never had one with foul language. In third grade I had one of my classmates come up to me and say hey what’s this word? I sounded it out and it was “damn,” and I was real proud of myself because I sounded it out. She ran straight to the teacher and told her I was cussing. Besides that one book which I think she brought from home, now I’ve seen a cuss word in a textbook at school. So, this idea that we have to have this kind of material in the class in order to teach history, I don’t buy it. “

A few in the room came to the book’s defense. We’re told many teachers in the county are upset about the decision, some seemed in favor of just removing the objectionable words:

Julie Goodin, Instructional Supervisor: “I can talk of the history, I was a history teacher and there is nothing pretty about the Holocaust and for me this was a great way to depict a horrific time in history. Mr. Spiegelman did his very best to depict his mother passing away and we are almost 80 years away. It’s hard for this generation, these kids don’t even know 9/11, they were not even born. For me this was his way to convey the message. Are the words objectionable? Yes, there is no one that thinks they aren’t but by taking away the first part, it’s not changing the meaning of what he is trying to portray and copyright… I have an eighth grader and even if you did pull this book I would want him to read it because we have to teach our kids. Are these words ok? No, not at all that is not acceptable, but the problem is that we are 80 years removed from the Holocaust itself. I just think this is a grave starting point for our teachers. I am very passionate about history, and I would hate to rob our kids of this opportunity. Are we going to be teaching these words outside of this book as vocabulary words? No, you know me better than that Tony Allman. ”

Melasawn Knights, Federal Programs Supervisor: “I think any time you are teaching something from history, people did hang from trees, people did commit suicide and people were killed, over six million were murdered. I think the author is portraying that because it is a true story about his father that lived through that. He is trying to portray that the best he can with the language that he chooses that would relate to that time, maybe to help people who haven’t been in that aspect in time to actually relate to the horrors of it. Is the language objectionable? Sure. I think that is how he uses that language to portray that… We are trying our best to redact the best we can and follow the law and that is what we felt like we have done to address the concerns of that language, the best we could. We think it is a valuable book and most of the supervisors here have read it.”

Steven Brady, Instructional Supervisor: “Every lesson we teach gives us a chance to make a change for the better for our students. When we teach habits of character, we are teaching our students how to be better people. There was a time where that happened every day at home, but when we think about what’s going on now and in the lives our students live in, many of them live in broken homes when they are at one house one day and another house the next. The list goes on and on of the things they have to deal with. Whether we realize it or not, school is the most stable thing in many of our students lives. What students see and hear where they live, may not be appropriate in some settings and we have a chance with every lesson to change what our students see is ok. We get a chance to kind of influence their ethics, their morals, their upbringing. I appreciate the stand that you all are taking to assure the public that we care about our kids, and we believe it’s important to teach our students the difference between right and wrong and help them be ethical people with compassion and morals with respect for others. We are not promoting the use of these words, if anything we are promoting that these words are inappropriate and it’s best that we not use them. It’s inappropriate for school, for our conversation here and you may hear that at home, you may see that on tv, but we do not promote that. There are many lessons that can be learned through this book about how we treat others, how we speak, things that we say, how we act and how to persevere. I just wanted you to get an idea of why these lessons are structured like they are and how this text is just surrounded by excerpts and articles and the things we do to build that background knowledge and the opportunity we have to make a difference in our students lives.”

 

GUEST COLUMN: BURCHETT POSTCARD IS A FLOP

BURCHETT POSTCARD IS A FLOP

by

Mark Harmon

                  Congressman Tim Burchett this month sent an oversized postcard to the hundreds of thousands of people in our district; he was touting his actions in the U. S. House.  If you look very closely at small print, you’ll see this bit of self-promotion was done at taxpayer expense.  It was done at the start of an election year through abuse of a congressional perk known as the franking privilege.

                  Burchett, of course, leaves out a lot—so, as the declared Democratic candidate for the same job—let me fill in the gaps.  To begin, our congressman left out his most ignominious vote.  Just hours after insurrectionists invaded our Capitol and assaulted police, Burchett gave the mob the truth-denying and democracy-destroying vote they wanted.  The peaceful transfer of power is an important American institution, but Burchett damaged it for cheap political gain.

                  TDOT calculated that Tennessee’s share of the infrastructure bill included $1.3 billion in federal highway funds, $302 million in bridge repairs, $300 million in airport improvements, $88 million for electric charging stations, $630 million for public transportation improvements, $697 million for improved water infrastructure, and $100 million to bring expanded broadband access to 400,000 Tennesseans.  Burchett voted against it.  He also voted against the COVID Relief bill that was vital to economic recovery.

                  Our congressman has cast some very dubious votes, many of them hurtful to women.  He voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, extending programs that seek to prevent and to respond to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.  A bipartisan group came together to support a bill that employers should make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees.  Burchett voted no.  He also joined a lawsuit supporting Mississippi’s law to restrict women’s reproductive freedom.

                  Burchett bizarrely brags about sponsoring a bill to prohibit vaccine mandates for essential workers at a time when it is crucial to assure that essential workers are vaccinated for their own health and those of us they encounter, engage, or treat.

                  On my website, markharmonforcongress.com, I outline a more uplifting agenda for our community.  We need to reward work with a $15 an hour minimum wage.  Our students should be rewarded and inspired by a dramatic increase in college grants.  Our health care plans need to have a public option.

                  I’d be happy to argue the merits of our contrasting views of the future, but Tim Burchett needs to agree to televised debates.  I suggest a minimum of two, perhaps one in a town hall format.  So far, he has ducked the question.  He appears to be relying on party label and a mountain of corporate campaign cash.  He twice did the same thing with his previous opponent Renee Hoyos.  In the interest of informed public debate, we cannot let him get away with it.  It’s up to all of us to press him on the point.

                  Mark Harmon is a professor of journalism and electronic media at the University of Tennessee, and a Democratic candidate for U. S. House, Tennessee District 2

INTERVIEW: ARSON AT PLANNED PARENTHOOD KNOXVILLE with ASHLEY COFFIELD

VIDEO: REP. FAISON TRIES TO FIGHT (AND PANTS) A REF

By now you’ve probably seen the video we unearthed of REP. FAISON TRYING TO FIGHT AND PANTS A REF at a high school basketball game in East Tennessee. After we saw Faison take to social media to apologize for the incident, we figured he was likely trying to get out in front of video that existed, so we did some digging, and sure enough we found it, for your viewing pleasure.

Again: HE TRIED TO PULL THE REF’S PANTS OFF, in a gym full of kids! He’s lucky he didn’t succeed, or he might be in one of those prisons he likes to vote to send money to while underfunding our schools.

As it stands the TSSAA is declining to punish or suspend him, deferring instead to the school (LAKEWAY CHRISTIAN), who has not answered our questions about his ability to attend future games. Apparently pantsing refs is ok in Tennessee now? Or maybe just when you’re a state rep?

Faison‬⁩ is the ⁦‪Tennessee House Republicans‬⁩ caucus CHAIR, 3rd ranking Republican in the Tennessee House, which is why this absurd story then proceeded to make national headlines, which we would like to think we had a hand in. Our video has been watched 250,000 times on Twitter.

On that note, here’s a A TWEET THAT DIDN’T AGE WELL – Faison tweeted this on January 6th 2021 — then one year later made national news for trying to fight and pants a ref👖 🤷🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♂️

Obviously this behavior is juvenile and unacceptable, but as Holler founder KANEW points out, “It’s not just (pantsing & threatening a ref) that makes Rep. Faison a bully – it’s the legislation he supports, and how he treats the most vulnerable people in Tennessee.”

Kanew saw firsthand that Faison is a bully when he got in his face and called him a “Hateful shit” during session last year after Kanew asked him why he was voting to cut unemployment benefits (while giving himself a raise) despite his own Cocke county having the highest unemployment in the state.

On a lighter note, a real Globetrotters player even took the time to give Faison good advice for next time he tries to pants a ref in front of children… listen up, Jeremy! 👇🏽🏀

We’ll make sure to ask Jeremy about this in person when the legislature starts back up next week. Please consider chipping in monthly if you’re not yet doing so, even if it’s just a few bucks – the monthly support truly keeps us going. 

The Holler

OPINION: I SPEAK FOR MYSELF, REP. TIM RUDD

Earlier this year, President Biden announced that employers with 100 or more employees will need to mandate COVID vaccines or weekly testing for their workers. Although this was intended to help ease the effects of the pandemic, many people believe this new mandate crosses the line; including TN representative Tim Rudd (R-MURFREESBORO).

Rudd, who wrote an opinion piece in The Tennessee Conservative in September, claims Biden isn’t helping anybody with this mandate, especially Tennesseans.

I, an East Tennessean with medical professionals in my family, am here to tell you that Rudd is wrong.

Nearly four months after this mandate was first implemented, a new variant of the virus has moved into our country, and (according to USA Facts) there is a daily average of 2,437 COVID cases in Tennessee. I do not believe the 20,000+ deaths my state has witnessed are something that should be politicized. My community, my family, and my friends are all suffering from COVID in different ways; I am not embarrassed to admit that my state needs help controlling the pandemic and its fatalities.

But, like Rudd, some of us feel this mandate couldn’t possibly be helpful since it was put in place by a Democrat. Rudd explicitly states that “you are either on Biden’s side or the side of Tennesseans”, and it is quite evident by his language that he believes Tennesseans don’t want to abide by this mandate.

While his beliefs are not far-fetched, Rudd has forgotten that Tennesseans, regardless of their political identification, do not want their voices muffled by politicians.

Tim Rudd does not speak for me or for other Tennesseans. We speak for ourselves. Our opinions, regardless of what they are, are special to us. We pick and choose our own battles, and we allow ourselves to have respect for one another.

Rudd’s willingness to assume that all of us feel threatened by a vaccine is insulting, and quite frankly, humiliating to myself and others that I know. His promises to protect all Tennesseans might as well be empty, as he seems to care only for certain groups of people.

His opinions, though not the same as mine, are ones that I respect. I ask that Rudd treat opposing views with the same respect that I offer him.

COVID is something we all wish would cease to exist. Nobody enjoys living in a global pandemic, especially one that has changed our realities so drastically, but it is our responsibility to take steps that protect ourselves and our loved ones. Everybody should have the opportunity to feel safe and to protect their communities, and in my opinion, this mandate helps to make that happen.

It is within all of our best interests to help protect each other and to acknowledge our differences instead of ignoring one another.

Lauren Barton is a sixteen-year-old writer living in the Knoxville area. She is the founder of Tectonic Magazine and often writes about local politics. You can follow their Twitter: @laurenbarton03

CHATTANOOGA KID VS. MOMS FOR CENSORSHIP

WATCH: “FILTERING HISTORY IS MUCH MORE DESTRUCTIVE TO OUR GROWING MINDS.” As radical Moms For Liberty and board member Rhonda Thurman force Hamilton County Schools to create a committee to censor library books (to censor MLK, other black authors) — A WISE 5TH GRADER PUSHES BACK.

TODAY’S HOLLER: KLAN DOWN

KLAN DOWN🚨 Y’ALL —- the other (HIDEOUS) KKK GRAND WIZARD STATUE on I-65 just south of Nashville (DESIGNED BY A SLAVERY-DEFENDER) has now also COME DOWN… PROGRESS…

Here’s a shot of the hideous I-65 KKK Grand Wizard statue just south of Nashville – built by a slavery defender, defended by Republicans – on its side, removed. 

FLASHBACK: TN Republicans Protected THE UGLIEST KKK GRAND WIZARD STATUE IN 🇺🇸  when Rep. Powell asked to PLANT (DONATED) TREES to obscure it from I-65. It was built by a racist who defended MLK’s assassin, slavery… it would’ve been at no cost- but Republicans refused.

“Somebody needs to say a good word for slavery” 😳 — a direct quote from Jack Kershaw, who built the now-removed hideous I-65 KKK Grand Wizard statue, defended slavery (and the man who killed MLK)… And Tennessee Republicans defended it to the bitter end.

But now, just like that, the I-65 KKK Grand Wizard eyesore is gone. 👋🏽

Symbols matter. If they didn’t, KKK sympathizers wouldn’t have put these things up in the first place. They represent pain and hurt, and removing them is progress. Shout-out to the activists who have fought so hard to make these embarrassing statues go away.

Thank you as always for subscribing, and please consider chipping in monthly if you’re not yet doing so, even if it’s just a few bucks – the monthly support truly keeps us going. 

The Holler

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TODAY’S HOLLER:
TRUMP’S NEXT COUP: “The prospect of this democratic collapse is not remote. People with the motive to make it happen are manufacturing the means… They are acting already.” — 🚨 Don’t 🚨 wait 🚨 til 🚨 it’s 🚨 too late 🚨 to 🚨 be 🚨 alarmed 🚨 about 🚨 this 🚨

“ABSOLUTE AND UNMITIGATED LIARS” — Ex-D.C. National Guard official accuses 2 senior Army leaders (Flynn’s brother) of lying to Congress in a secret attempt to rewrite the history of the military’s response to the Capitol riot… delaying it for hours.

NOT FRINGE: Say it Loud – Boebert & Greene are not fringe in today’s GOP.

LIES KILL: “Since May 2021, people living in counties that voted heavily for Trump nearly THREE TIMES AS LIKELY TO DIE FROM COVID-19” 😷 

 🔥STOP CHERRY-PICKING WHAT HISTORY WE TEACH OUR CHILDREN.” – REVEREND DR. JUDY CUMMINGS tells MOMS FOR LIBERTY (aka “MOMS FOR LYING TO OUR KIDS”) and politicians enabling their crusade against MLK, Ruby Bridges & The Truth to stop whitewashing history and start fully funding our schools.

The new season of “The Office” is gonna be terrible

KANEW ON FOX: “If it was men that carry babies we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.” – The Holler’s Justin Kanew talks about what overturning (popular) Roe V. Wade means to Tennessee on WZTV FOX 17 News, Nashville — and Jasper Hendricks reminds us “elections have consequences”. 🎯

🤦🏼‍♀️

GOV. LEE’S “FIRESIDE CHAT”: Lee, who wouldn’t meet with protestors or the black caucus for 63 days last summer, held a “fireside chat” with Bob Woodson about “civil rights” — who showed why he was chosen by blaming “a deterioration of the race issue in 🇺🇸” on Barack Obama & Nikole Hannah Jones🧐

DANCING COP IN EAST RIDGE: Police officer Jonah Goddard’s musical Tik Tok videos went viral and landed him on the Kelly Clarkson Show.  Watch a few of his videos here.

WASH POST FRONT PAGE: “He’d never heard of critical race theory until he was accused of teaching it” – On the firing of Coach Hawn of KINGSPORT in the anti-CRT furor, the same day the TN GOP passed their anti-truth law. 

“MOMS FOR LYING TO YOUR KIDS”: The always-great Betsy Phillips re-brands Moms For Liberty, gives context to their anti-MLK anti-truth crusade in WILLIAMSON COUNTY, which epitomizes white flight from desegregation, is STILL just 4% black. TEACH THE TRUTH.

Meanwhile here’s a pic of “Moms For Lying To Your Kids” in the Franklin Christmas Day Parade, being normalized like they’re not out here fighting to keep our kids ignorant. They were also in the Franklin Veterans Day Parade. #TeachTheTruth 

CONFEDERATE COURTROOM: “A Black man whose fate was decided by an all-white jury who deliberated in a room containing Confederate symbols will receive a new trial after a Tennessee’s Criminal Appeals Court ruling.” (In PULASKI, TN — where the KKK began)

REPUBLICAN INDIFFERENCE TO HUMAN LIFE: Conservative Jennifer Rubin tells Dems to “stop shying from a full-throated abortion debate. The more Republicans talk, the more obvious life is not the issue—control of women who do not warrant the right to bodily integrity Republicans claim for themselves.”

Like clockwork ⏰

REMINDER: They don’t actually support “freedom”

“THE PUBLIC GOOD”🇺🇸 🎯 Good oiece on the common thread between so much of the ugliness we’re seeing — “The Public Good” is now a concept lost on most (thanks to a sustained right-wing campaign), and one we need to try to revive if we have any chance of recovering.

CARTOONS OF THE DAY 😳

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JASON ZACHARY VS. JASON ZACHARY

WATCH: “JASON ZACHARY VS. JASON ZACHARY

Rep. Jason Zachary of Knoxville stirred up anti-mask outrage that led to threats to blockade schools—then after SCHOOLS CLOSED he tried to strike a more reasonable tone.

TOO LATE, Jason. This isn’t leadership.

DESPITE SEXTON’S THREATS, HANCOCK COUNTY PUTS KIDS’ SAFETY FIRST

DESPITE SEXTON’S THREATS, HANCOCK COUNTY PUTS KIDS’ SAFETY FIRST

Despite skyrocketing COVID-19 hospitalizations – including the deaths of children – this week at a press conference Tennessee Speaker Cameron Sexton warned school districts that if they dared to take measures to protect their kids by instituting mandates, separating unvaccinated kids, or closing schools if needed, he would ask Governor Lee to call a special session to punish them for it.

So much for “small government” or “local control”, right?

Well it didn’t take long for one Tennessee county to defy Sexton’s threats. And it wasn’t the county you might expect, either.

It wasn’t Davidson, or Shelby, or Hamilton, or even Knox – all of which are bigger cities and generally more prone to Democratic leadership.

Yesterday, after seeing a spike in cases among students, HANCOCK COUNTY, under the leadership of Dr. Charlotte Mullins, became the first county in East TN (Shelby is keeping theirs) to decide to implement a mask mandate anyway, despite Speaker Sexton’s threats.

We called Dr. Mullins up there in the Northeast part of the state to ask her about her decision to blaze this trail. She says she was just trying to keep kids safe and keep the schools open, and that politics did not factor into her decision. Imagine that! That’s what leadership should sound like.

What follows is a transcript of that conversation.

HOLLER: This decision was made when?

DR. MULLINS: It was made late yesterday afternoon (Tuesday). We started school on Monday thinking we could start without masks and hoping for a safe, positive school year – but we had several children test positive yesterday, and several more that had been in contact who were pending test results. So we felt like we had to make a decision quickly.

HOLLER: And were you aware of the press conference Speaker Sexton had prior, essentially threatening to call a special session if school districts did that?

DR. MULLINS: I am aware of that, but at this time I had to try to take care of our students here in Hancock County. No disrespect toward any state official. I feel like it was necessary for our county.

HOLLER: What did you think of them taking the position that no school district should be able to do that if they felt it was right for their students?

DR. MULLINS: I can’t comment on why they felt the way they do about it. At this time I want us to be able to have school. I want our students to be safe. I want our teachers to be safe. And our regional health department made the announcement that if our students wear a mask inside the classroom we wouldn’t have to quarantine them. And for the most part we aren’t having pushback in our county.

HOLLER: Were you aware you were the first county in East Tennessee to do that? To issue a mask mandate? (Shelby County is keeping theirs in Memphis)

DR. MULLINS: Not until it was on the news.

HOLLER: It seems like this wasn’t political at all. You were just trying to keep kids safe. Is that right?

DR. MULLINS: Not a bit. I realize the statements that were made, and I knew those were in place, but this was just more important. This is so important that we try to keep our kids safe so we can have school.

HOLLER: You blazed a trail here, and did something pretty brave. Some might even say heroic. Other districts may follow suit, and when they do people may look back at what Hancock County did and appreciate it.

Hancock County’s Official Statement:

Hancock County students returned to in-person instruction Monday, August 2, without a mask protocol, hopeful of a safe, positive school year.  By Tuesday afternoon, significant changes in local covid data prompted our system to consider additional measures to protect the health and wellbeing of our students.  Based on guidance from the CDC and the regional health department, and with respect to all local and state leaders, Hancock County Schools issued a mask directive effective Wednesday, August 4.  This measure was taken to protect the health of our students, teachers and staff, while continuing to provide high quality in-person instruction.  We would like to thank students, parents, and community members, as well as, Tennesseans from across the state for the tremendous outpouring of support for our decision. We will continue to monitor the rapidly changing situation and adjust procedures as necessary to ensure the safest learning environment possible for our students.

 

Many other (bigger) districts have meetings in the coming days about their own mask rules. It will be interesting to see how their decisions end up after Dr. Mullins and Hancock County blazed this trail, wittingly or unwittingly. They deserve a lot of credit for taking politics out of it and focusing on the health of the children, even in the face of threats from Speaker Sexton and the legislature.

 

REP. GLORIA JOHNSON ON “UNHINGED” SPEAKER SEXTON’S THREATS

Watch the FULL INTERVIEW with Rep. Gloria Johnson about Speaker Sexton’s “unhinged” presser threatening to call a special session to punish school districts that take measures to keep their students safe.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST