PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY-TUESDAY, AUG. 5-6, 2013) — As that notoriously tough grader Prof. Valenti gets ready for his courses this fall, there are syllabi to perfect, classes to prepare, lectures to mull over, and books to order. In our “Composition 101” class, we shall use Prose Models, Gerald Levin, editor. In “Introduction to Journalism,” it shall be some combination of Inside Reporting, The Four Theories of the Press, and Writing for the Mass Media. In both courses, we shall assign Jane Aaron‘s Little, Brown Compact Handbook, the best one out there for writers.

Compared to the ponderous reading lists we encountered in the 1970s as an undergrad and then in grad school, these lists are about as arduous as we dare to get with today’s attention-deficited, thumb-addled students. That, and infinite patience, leads to success in all academic pursuits, including the training of writers.

Speaking of writers, THE PLANET presents this guest column, written by Eric Owens, education editor of The Daily Caller. We thought you’d find it enlightening, in light of our reading list. Professor Valenti, apparently, needs to get “more relevant” for today’s students, who come to class having won medals all their lives just for playing and trophies simply for “effort.” They’ve been fed on a diet of solipcistic navel gazing, pumped up on artificial “self-esteem,” and brainwashed by politically correct educators of various teachers unions at the grammar and high school levels. The effect has begun to spill over into college.

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The Daily Caller

Eric Owens, Education Editor

Guess which book the College of Charleston spent around $39,000 buying up to assign to 4,000 or so incoming 2013 freshmen students for ostensibly required summer reading.

Could the College of Charleston (CofC) have invested in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”—an enduring cautionary tale about the deeply destructive power of unchecked ambition? How about Dostoyevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov,” which delves deeply into issues of God, free will, and morality?

Of course not. Instead, administrators at the public university in downtown Charleston, South Carolina chose “Fun Home,” a 2006 graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, a cartoonist who writes a comic strip called “Dykes to Watch Out For.”

The book’s plot concerns a woman who is coming out as a lesbian. She has a closeted gay father. He’s an English teacher who owns a funeral home. He’s also on trial for a sexually molesting a young boy. Among much else, there’s an illustrated masturbation scene to boot.

In addition to dropping nearly $40,000 on the glorified comic books, CofC will generously give $13,000 from its public coffers to Bechdel when she speaks on campus in October, according to Campus Reform.

The assignment and the pricey speaking engagement have generated criticism from a conservative Christian organization called Palmetto Family, which works with a couple national groups: Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council (both founded by James Dobson).

An out-of-state parent notified Oran Smith, Palmetto Family’s president and CEO, about the contents of the book, reports The Post and Courier. Smith then sent an email to approximately 10,000 people entitled “A Shocking Summer Reading Assignment!”

“I found it very close to pornography,” Smith explained, “way over the top.” He also said that people who have received his email strongly agree.

“We don’t think this book should be banned in America,” he said. “We don’t think it should be burned. It’s just not appropriate for college freshmen.”

It’s not clear which age cohort Smith thinks should be reading the book.

Freshmen classes at American colleges and universities tend to include students who are between the ages of 17 and 19.

The provost of CofC, George Hynd, said the school endeavors to provide a safe, diverse atmosphere and that the assignment will not be changed.

Lynne Ford, associate provost, said the graphic memoir copes with issues of identity and “will help students to learn that they are not unique. Our experience is shared by millions.”

Read more:

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Don’t you love the use of the word “diverse”? Before political correctness distorted the meaning of this perfectly good word, “diverse” meant the quality of exhibiting great variety. Today, politicians, bureaucrats, administrators, and others employ the word as code, meaning, “We shall shove a PC agenda down your throats.”

We think here of Jake IV‘s promise for more “diversity” in hiring for the Pittsfield Public Schools. To better prepare the young minds of tomorrow, JIV (“Jive”) might want to spend $40 grand of taxpayer money on”Fun Home.” On second thought, comic books, however, might prove too challenging for some of the little darlins’. Secondarily, we refer to talk of bringing back “affirmative action” into the city’s public life. Like all well-meaning attempts at social engineering to manipulate outcomes in the name of justice, this one — in the hands of politicians, administrators, and the like — will invariably produce the opposite.

As much or more discrimination has been introduced in the name of “affirmative action” than even the most strident cases of abuse, which at least had the virtue of honesty in their vice. We shall leave it at that.



With the deadline on nomination papers for candidates looking to get on the 2013 ballot set for tomorrow, school committeeman Terry Kinnas tells THE PLANET that he “will not be taking our papers” for school committee or any other municipal office.

This action does not come as a surprise, although it does represent a loss for We The People. Of the six members of the school committee, Kinnas and Kinnas alone has consistently fought to protect the interests of taxpayers while advancing policies aimed at producing a more efficient, more motivated, and more cost-effective school department.

For his reward, Kinnas has met obstacle after obstacle placed in his way for fellow committee members, school administrators, and other “Special Interest” types. He has run this obstacle course with persistence, dignity, and deftness. The culmination of this pattern of hostility shown to the committee’s sole watchdog reached its heights during the now-infamous “Scopes Money Trial,” a kangaroo court proceeding carried out by the school committee with the mayor’s backing after Kinnas had filed an “Open Meeting Law” complaint against the schools.

Mayor Dan Bianchi, who also is a member of the school committee, conveniently found an excuse to be out of town on the night of the trial. It was Bianchi’s lowest moment as mayor. To date, Bianchi has not commented on the “trial,” his role in it, and if he agreed with or even orchestrated the proceedings.

Kinnas, Bianchi, and the other members of the school committee have another five months. They have a new superintendent in place. A new school year begins next month. There’s still plenty of time to affect positive change on behalf of all constituencies with a stake in public education: Teachers, administrators, students, parents, support staff, and, most of all, taxpayers.

THE PLANET wishes Kinnas and the rest of the committee happy hunting.


“Give me a flower on a tall stem, and three dark flames, / For I will go to the wedding, and be wedding-guest / At the marriage of the living dark.”D. H. Lawrence, last stanza, “Bavarian Gentians.” (1932)




  1. dusty
    August 5, 2013 at 1:10 am #

    Kinnas was a huge ray of sunshine through his efforts. He showed that at least one person really cared about the school system and its students. It is true that he was unable to accomplish very much but he did accomplish one very important thing. He exposed the raw sickness that is rampant in the Pittsfield public school system and some of the main players were brought front stage.

    • danvalenti
      August 5, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

      Agreed, DUSTY. Kinnas’ loss will be a big one for taxpayers and The Little Guy. GOB must be rejoicing, though.

  2. Scott
    August 5, 2013 at 4:43 am #

    This town sucks when it goes belly up I’m going to go laugh in the face whoever is mayor.

    • raider50
      August 5, 2013 at 8:34 am #

      That’s the spirit Scott. Always love the way the discussion is elevated on this site.

      • Scott
        August 6, 2013 at 4:22 am #

        I’m doing my part. I own property and pay tax.

    • The Kraken
      August 5, 2013 at 11:06 am #

      Scott, unfortunately when Pittsfield does go belly up the mayor and his cronies will have already made out like bandits in this ponzi scheme known as government.

      • Scott
        August 6, 2013 at 4:23 am #

        You have that right!

  3. Jonathan Melle
    August 5, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    I like Dan Valenti. I think he is a good man. I personally dislike conservative cultural Catholics. I respect Catholics. I like the Catholic Church’s belief in social justice. I read Dan Valenti’s blog postings about cultural issues, and he always espouses conservative cultural Catholic beliefs. Unlike Dan Valenti, I believe in masturbation, safe sex, birth control, sex education, human rights for same sex couples, and limited abortion rights that protect a woman’s right to choose a medically safe abortion. I believe the Catholic Church is violating human rights by not protecting people’s reproductive rights. I do not see the issue as the PC-elites versus the conservative Christians. Rather, I see the issue as one of tolerance. I believe all people are sexual beings. God made us that way. The Catholic Church is dominated by a culture of conservative men who are not allowed to marry, but are known as sexual deviants who prey on innocent young people instead of praying to God. I believe in equality and relationships for all people. I believe women should be Priests and that Priests should be able to marry. Above all else, conservative cultural Catholics and the conservative Christians are all moral hypocrites. All people are sinners! That is how God made us.

    • MrG1188
      August 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

      Well…that’s certainly different from the normal take Johathan usually offers.

    • danvalenti
      August 5, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

      State your views. Fine. Do not, however, speak for mine. You are in total error whenever you attempt to characterize our “beliefs.” This case is Exhibit A.

      • Jonathan Melle
        August 5, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

        I am sorry I am in error. I respect all views. It is a free country.

    • Scott
      August 6, 2013 at 4:23 am #

      I bet you worship masturbation! lol

  4. tito
    August 5, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    thanks for the perspective Monk Melle,,,,,,

    • Scott
      August 6, 2013 at 4:24 am #

      Monks don’t jerk off!

  5. Jethro Bodine
    August 5, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    Thank you Terry Kinnas for at least trying, which is more than the other bums did.

  6. Charles Trzcinka
    August 5, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    One of the best ideas I’ve heard of for common reading is to develop the list of books by vote of the liberal arts faculty. If you let liberal arts faculty vote for say ten books, their “politically correct” books will all be different and the books in common will be pretty familiar. You should organize the vote and see what you get…

  7. The Professor and Mary Ann
    August 5, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    Alison Bechdel is a witty and painfully humane writer.She sends up her characters’ shortcomings but always shows respect and feeling for human nature.If one follows her comic,one knows that her humor is about the sometimes moronic foibles that almost everyone displays at times.We would pay to see her.And talk about a self- made American..she use to write her comic for whatever weekly paper,read alternative and freebie,that would take her strip.And now she’s an accomplished and well -read author.That didn’t just happen…she worked for it.We would just like to hear her story and besides,if those Focus on Family wankers are agin ye,We’re for ye!

    • danvalenti
      August 5, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

      Thank you, PROF & MA, for these well-articulated views. Generally speaking, the Focus on Family dudes give us the creeps, too

  8. Dave
    August 5, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    Off topic- Expanding the arts overlay district east of First St hmmmm are we trying to give the lawyers for Cafua Management a gift wrapped argument that our animus is showing?

    • danvalenti
      August 5, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

      It would appear so, DAVE. As THE PLANET pointed out in an earlier posting, the city will have a hard enough time as it is.

  9. irvin corey
    August 5, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    Josh Cutler will take over for Terry

    • danvalenti
      August 5, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

      One can only hope. I have a lot of faith in, and hopes for, Josh.

    • dusty
      August 6, 2013 at 3:07 am #

      and Reillo will take over for Alf?

  10. tito
    August 5, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    ,,,,, in the can’t make it up department, we’ll be here at the ol ballpark, probably until midnight, as the bus was late arriving because of a leak on the bus,,,,,,before entering the grand ol ballpark some loon named Carl was shouting obcenities to the patrons as they were entering the park,,,,,,,,

  11. Ron Kitterman
    August 6, 2013 at 5:05 am #

    Thanks you Terry Kinnas for your service, you fought a good fight. Hopefully you can pass on your decoder ring to Josh Cutler so there will be some push back the next two years, because it looks like the GOB’s have the 1’st string pretty well set into play for the next two seasons.

  12. tito
    August 6, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    Cutler will march in step if elected or will end up just like Terry, one and done,,,,,,,,,,

  13. tito
    August 6, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

    ,,, Although anything is possible,,,,,,the t v series Maya lasted a year,,,,,,,,,

  14. Rivetor
    August 6, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    Josh Cutler’s a kid with political ambition. That tells me if he gets on school board that he plays ball wit hthe GOB. Hope I’m wrong. Any young person who get in and wants to be a dragon slayer could do it butI don’t know if Josh is cut out for the role.

  15. tito
    August 6, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    We need Les Gold running the show,,,,,,,,,,

  16. Dave
    August 6, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    Just curious, any of these new youngsters running for office
    BYP ers?

    • TKO
      August 7, 2013 at 3:35 am #

      BPY ers?

    • danvalenti
      August 7, 2013 at 6:40 am #

      Great question, DAVE, and it should be a question put to these rookie candidates.

  17. NBI
    August 6, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

    Hi Dan,

    How does the average BCC “$s per classroom hour salary” compare to the average PPS teacher wage which you exposed last week? Should be interesting. Thanks for helping us understand how these impact our local and state taxes.

    • Scott
      August 7, 2013 at 5:33 am #

      And also “NBI” another question to go along with it is what kind of educational results are being yielded at BCC. I’m sure Dan would have no issue telling it like it is. The problem with PPS isn’t necessarily the money we should be investing in our children but the problem is what is the money really being spent on and do the results justify the money as well spent or as a total scam at the expense of the tax payers and children for the connected few. Have a great day everyone!

      • outfox
        August 12, 2013 at 7:57 am #

        Don’t know if by “educational results” you mean the kind you get from standardized testings, but I do know that when I attended BCC ten years ago it was rated the best community college in the state, and I was able to take classes with professors whose CV’s rivaled those of the professors at the elite college to which I transferred. The best teacher I’ve ever had was at BCC, (and even had Oxford in his educational background)— Andrew Howitt,— for many, many reasons. The other professors I had were all well educated, and came across as really enjoying their jobs, which made it even easier to learn what they had to offer, which was so, so much.I cannot speak highly enough of the education on offer at our local community college.

    • danvalenti
      August 7, 2013 at 6:41 am #

      Excellent question, NBI. I do not have the answer.

      • NBI
        August 7, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

        While you may not know all the averages yet, I would imagine you could make an accurate comparison of your own earnings as a professor.