Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize winning author, was willfully misinterpreted by The Blaze. PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons
TheBlaze.com, Glenn Beck’s venture, can be relied on for over-heated, far-right rhetoric, and calling them out on individual points is generally not worth it. However, their report on 11th graders reading Toni Morrison is worth a mention. The Blaze ran a story on Thursday, posted by Mike Opelka, about how high school students are reading Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, which includes “pedophilia, incest and graphic sex.” The Blaze then provides six graphic excerpts from The Bluest Eye, and there’s no denying that they are explicit and raw.
But let’s remember who is reading these books: 16 and 17 year-olds. A few years younger than that, and sure, The Blaze could make a good case that The Bluest Eye, is too graphic for those ages but you can’t shelter kids forever. According to the CDC in a 2011 survey, just under half of U.S. high school students have had sex. It’s important that kids learn about sex from something other than pop music and television. The Bluest Eye isn’t a sex-ed course, but it does show a lot of the raw emotions around sex: pleasure, but also terror, need for control. It’s a revealing book in ways that kids won’t get from most media or high school sex-ed classes.
There might be better choices than The Bluest Eye for high schoolers to read, but The Blaze is simply saying, “hey! Look at all this gross sex! We can’t have 16 year-olds reading this.” Opelka also claims that Toni Morrison endorses rape, incest and pedophilia with this quote from Macey France (who actually dug up all the excerpts used by The Blaze):
“In fact, the author of the book, Morrison, says that she wanted the reader to feel as though they are a “co-conspirator” with the rapist. She took pains to make sure she never portrayed the actions as wrong in order to show how everyone has their own problems.”
Yeah, so that’s not the same as endorsing rape. It’s taking the perspective that rapists aren’t aliens, entirely unlike the rest of us, but rather they are human, uncomfortably recognizable to us. The Blaze and Macey France are willfully misinterpreting Morrison to support their paternalistic BS.