Paging Dr. Wertham!

A 20-year old college student at Crafton Hills College is trying to get her school to ban four graphic novels in her English 250 course; Sandman: The Doll’s House, Y: The Last Man, Fun Home, and Persepolis. You can read about the case here

Fun Home is an autobiographically examination of a young woman’s coming of age and family dysfunction. Persopolis is an autobiographical story, also of a young woman coming of age, this time set against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution. Y: The Last Man sees a post-apocalyptic vision of the future when a virus kills every man on Earth save one. The Doll’s House is a story arc in the mythic Sandman comic dealing with a serial killer convention, as well as issues of Heaven and Hell and sexual identity (quite brilliant, but it gets a bit weird, I will admit, and probably not a good choice for someone just beginning with the medium). You can learn more about them on Amazon and Wikipedia on your own time, but I’m sure you can see where these would all deal with adult themes.

I’m not going to talk about the legalistic interpretations of this particular case. The law is clear on it. Nor am I really going to discuss the ethics of adult content in media. Of course parents should be allowed to decide what their own children are allowed to read. That’s not in question here.
It’s also not what is happening here.

These are not children. They are fully grown adults who are able to vote for their leaders or be drafted to go to war. If a university student isn’t capable of thinking about complex ideas, then they have no business being a university student.

This situation is one of a student believing she should be able to determine the content of her course. It’s both a dangerous precedent and plain stupid. Students don’t know enough to determine that content. If they did, they wouldn’t need to be students.

Look, it’s not so long since I was a college student myself, and I’m not going to pretend that if I was allowed to determine the content that I wouldn’t have gone as easily as possible on myself. There never would have been homework and our exams would have consisted of naps, pizza, and beer. Now, as awesome as those are, they’re hardly an effective rubric for determining how much you know about the Byzantine Emperor.

She says that she was expecting Batman and Robin, “not pornography,” but she obvious stayed enrolled in the course long enough to read the entirety of the content. Colleges provide a generous withdrawal period, but if she stayed till the end of the semester, how offended could she have actually been? This is just speculation, but I can’t shake the feeling that what she really expect from the course was an easy A, and when one wasn’t provided, she decided to settle for her pound of flesh.

Keith Cunningham
Keith is a freelance writer at Black Powder Design and a graduate of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a degree in animation. Keith hosts a podcast on the Deliberate Noise Network titled The Keith Show Show starring Keith. He is also the illustrator and writer of his own comic series called Stale Popcorn.