News

Cops Challenge Kids’ Summer Reading List, and More

Image from “The Hate U Give,” by 20th Century Fox

Editor's Note:

Also in this week’s Signature Need-to-Know: The recent resurgence of Nazi vocab, spoiling the Batman/Catwoman wedding, and a new Little Women remake.

High school students in South Carolina were recommended The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely as part of a college prep reading list, but the local police force isn’t having it. The list is now being reconsidered by the school district after complaints about how police are portrayed, which amounts to anti-police “indoctrination” in the eyes of law enforcement. As the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund notes, Thomas’s book “also depicts a police officer as one of the strong moral centers, a father figure, and positive role model,” but let’s be real, we all know that no one on the force actually read it. If you’d like to speak up in defense of these titles, the Kids Right to Read Project has included an address for reaching out to the school in their own letter to the principal, which you can read here.

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In a classic case of mistaken identity, the small publisher Red Hen Press spent the last week refusing to apologize for declining to serve a meal to Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. As irate Twitter warriors kept confusing the Los Angeles-based publisher’s account with that of a similarly-named D.C. restaurant, Red Hen Press trolled them oh-so-gently in response. “Your conservative family is welcome to read all of our books,” reads one tweet. “Our first recommendation is Bad Stories by Steve Almond!”

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Trump supporters may bristle at being compared to Nazis, but strangely, they’re also the ones re-popularizing the term “Lügenpresse” (German for “lying press”) in their attacks against the media. In October 2016, TIME magazine examined the word’s origins and tracked its recent resurgence during Trump’s campaign for the presidency. More recently, the #Lugenpresse hashtag on Twitter also reflects a strong pushback against this term, and against blind hatred of members of the press  – especially in light of last week’s tragic massacre at a Baltimore newspaper office.

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On an “I wish this was unrelated” note: the fight to exercise First Amendment rights belongs to everybody, but experts fear that government-protected “free speech” is gradually becoming “a weapon of the powerful” that’s increasingly invoked in right-wing causes, such as allowing corporations to make campaign donations. Studies show this change is being codified by the highest court in the land. “The New York Times found that the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has been far more likely to embrace free-speech arguments concerning conservative speech than liberal speech,” the paper reports, pointing out: “That is a sharp break from earlier eras.” Depending how the fight over Justice Kennedy’s seat tilts in coming months, this could become a long-term concern for all.

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If that makes you furious, you might wanna wait a while to peek at these spoilers about the outcome of Batman and Catwoman’s long-awaited nuptials, a tale which won’t officially be told until issue Batman #50 is released on July 4. If you want to remain spoiler-free, then we’ll just leave it at this: “The resolution to this arc is going to be frustratingly familiar to comic book fans,” writes The AV Club in response to the Times‘ revelations. If you want the specifics, you’ll have to click the link. If not, instead just spend a little time daydreaming about the prenup a notorious cat burglar must be required to sign in order to marry a millionaire like Bruce Wayne.

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Retiring from a world-famous newspaper after 14 years is itself a newsworthy occasion – especially if you’re an obituary writer. For her swan song, Margalit Fox takes a stab at writing her own epitaph, allowing readers a glimpse behind the curtain at everything that being a totes profesh obit author entails. Don’t feel too bad for her: Fox’s exodus is a result of having published a new book called Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World’s Most Famous Detective Writer. “In what may be the most foolhardy decision of a foolhardy life,” she explains, “I have decided to pursue a long-held dream of writing books exclusively.” RIP job security! Even so, we hope her new literary life will be pure heaven.

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If you know anything about Parker Posey, you know that if the actress is going to write a memoir, she’s gonna do it on her own terms. That’s exactly what appears to have happened in You’re On An Airplane, her new “self-mythologizing memoir,” which the AV Club assures us hits all the important spots in terms of revisiting Posey’s incredible career, while also affording room for her eccentricities (“she’s often filling a tub for a bath, only to get distracted and have the water overflow”). Everyone has at least one friend who’s been waiting their whole lives for this book – or you are that friend, in which case mark your calendar for July 24.

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The philosophy of Stoicism has remained a balm for the egos of frustrated male intellectuals everywhere, and this article from Aeon reveals how modern self-help literature also draws from the tradition – even though Aristotle was better at understanding human happiness, making his doctrine “ripe for rediscovery.” As the article further explains: “It offers to the human race facing third-millennial challenges a unique combination of secular, virtue-based morality and empirical science, neither of which seeks answers in any ideal or metaphysical system beyond what humans can perceive by their senses.” Drawing from their reading list, you should have much to argue about with the stoics in your life – but then, that’s nothing new.

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This report on the upcoming remake of Little Women (starring Saoirse Ronan and Greta Gerwig, no less) has the gall to comment on the preponderance of movie adaptations of Louisa May Alcott’s classic – “in 1917, 1918, 1933, 1949, 1978, and 1994” – as if there isn’t always room for improvement. This film will be notable right out of the gate for reuniting the “Ladybird” star and director, though we don’t expect critics a hundred years from now to care about that in their withering estimation of “Little Women 2118” starring an all A.I. cast. As the article also notes, adaptations of Little Women are announced all the time without ever coming to fruition, leaving us with more questions than answers. For example: “Whether Gerwig’s Little Women will be shot from the script Sony hired Sarah Polley to write for them back in 2015 is still unclear.”

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Despite what you may have head, Reddit’s far more than just a playground for involuntary celibates. Without the site, we’d never have gotten to seee this animated version of “Rikki Tikki Tavi” created in Russia circa 1965, which the poster admits is “beautiful in its own weird sort of way.” Clocking in at a lean 20 minutes, this short actually manages to do Kipling’s classic story justice, and you may even find that the central conflict mongoose-vs-cobra to be the perfect metaphor for our times. Enjoy below: