A dispatch from San Diego Comic-Con 2017

Yes, I was there again.  Read on for Jeff Smith, Congressman John Lewis, Sonny Liew, Thi Bui, Brigitte Findakly, Lewis Trondheim, Jennifer Holm, and more! Cosplay This was my fourth Comic-Con.  So, each day, I walked past the city’s homeless, and past lines of fans waiting to get into I-don’t-know-what. (There are events outside of the San…

Why Campus Carry Threatens Higher Education

Today, I’m joining other members of K-SAFE (K-Staters Against Fatal Encounters) and the KCGFC (Kansas Coalition for a Gun-Free Campus) at the statehouse, in Topeka.  There, we’ll hand out flyers that — we hope — will show our legislators the grave danger the “Kansas Personal and Family Protection Act.” Yes, this is really the name of the…

Innocent Children and Frightened Adults: Why Censorship Fails (at From The Square: The NYU Press Blog)

In recognition of the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, I’ve written a short piece for From the Square: The NYU Press Blog.  It’s called “Innocent Children and Frightened Adults: Why Censorship Fails.”  Here’s a brief excerpt: While censorship will not keep young people safe, censors and would-be censors are right about two things. First, books…

The Sound of Silence; or, the Kansas Legislature’s Latest Blunder

In 2013, the Kansas Board of Regents revoked university employees’ right to freedom of speech, making a fireable offense any speech that might be conceived as disloyal, impair discipline, or fall under the broad category of being “contrary to the best interests of the employer.” Now, the Kansas legislature is proposing legislation that prohibits university employees from…

Freedom of Speech Returns to Kansas Universities?

Good news for employees of Kansas universities. Freedom of speech appears to have been restored! You see, the Kansas Board of Regents’ recently passed social media policy says employees of Regents-governed Kansas universities do not have the right to freedom of speech. To be specific, employees can be fired for speech that “impairs discipline by superiors or harmony among co-workers,” “has…

On Reading the Expurgated Huck Finn; or, Why We Should Teach Offensive Novels

As you may recall, three years ago NewSouth Books published an edition of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Adventures of Tom Sawyer in which editor Alan Gribben replaced the n-word with “slave,” and the in-word (“Injun”) with “Indian.” Many (including yours truly) criticized Gribben’s decision, and most critics focused on Huckleberry Finn. But…

Kansas State University’s NEW Academic Freedom Statement

In response to the Kansas Board of Regents’ draconian, unconstitutional social media policy, a group of concerned faculty and students from Kansas State University drafted an Academic Freedom statement, during this past summer. I was not a member of this group, but I fully endorse their statement, which can be found as no. 3 on Kansas…

Comic-Con 2014: San Diego, July 26

Hello, and welcome to today’s tiny sliver of what Comic-Con is like. In each of my day’s reports, I’m giving you but one person’s glimpse into this vast enterprise, the attendance of which tends to be around 50,000 people. If you were here, your focus might be different than mine. Or if you did attend this year’s Comic-Con,…

Was the Cat in the Hat Black?

Like Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny, Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat owes a debt to blackface minstrelsy. In my “Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: Exploring Dr. Seuss’s Racial Imagination” (in the new issue of Children’s Literature), I explore the implications of this fact.  Here’s the opening paragraph: In 1955, Dr. Seuss and William Spaulding—director of…

Posters for Harmony, Loyalty, and Discipline

Under the Kansas Board of Regents‘ brave new social media policy, the faculty and staff of Kansas universities must make sure that their speech is harmonious, loyal, and conducive to discipline.  So, the Kansas Board of Regents’ Committee for Harmony, Loyalty and Discipline is here to help you monitor speech. Our staff artist, Comrade Warner, has created…