Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Empire of the Flat Earth Strikes Again

The Observer newspaper in the UK reports today that flat earthers are highly incensed about a pilot scheme tested in some of the country's schools. Kids ages 4-11 receive booklets featuring a prince who's turning down a couple of princesses before finally falling in love with his prince. Goes without saying that this isn't about sex but about love. Educationalists have pointed out that the power of children's books in terms of shaping future social values is very substantial. Omitting gay people from such literature likely contributes to homophobic societal values. I have no idea whether these factual claims are correct, but they do not sound utterly implausible.
Of course, the empire of the flat earth is pretty horrified. Says the education spokesman (of course a spokesman) of the Muslim Council of Britain, 'This is not consistent with Islamic teachings and from our point of view many parents would be concerned.' Other flat earthers have suggested that these books 'promote' homosexuality. Leaving aside the question of whether or not that would be a bad thing (if it was possible to promote some sexual orientation to such an extent that people change their's), the same could probably be said for the prince-meets-princess type children's literature. So, unless one thinks there's something inherently wrong about homosexuality one would probably have to worry about any kind of sexual orientation bias in children's books. Quite arguably children's booklets showing the diversity of relationships we have in modern societies (of course, the Vatican, Iran and similar oddities are not, strictly speaking modern, civilised societies :) are desireable.

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