Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cato and the Watchmen

Ah, Watchmen: the most celebrated graphic novel of all time, an amazing if fatally flawed movie, and a tough story that deals with genocide, psychosis, random violence, rape, lashing dead bodies into rafts, cutting off the hands of criminals, murdering people to keep secret the fact that genocide had been committed, killing pregnant women in bar fights, child abuse....

I don't mean to over-emphasize the fact that Watchmen is a disturbingly brilliant novel, just to point out that it deals in very graphic ways with horrifying, confusing, and morally ambiguous themes. It sure as hell ain't for the squeamish.

Which is why I find it more than a little perplexing that Cato at Delmarva Dealings thinks the inclusion of Dragonball in an elementary school library is peddling smut, but appears to have no objection to having Watchmen on the shelves in the high schools.

Here's what he actually said:

As a recent graduate of a first rate university, you well appreciate the difference between material read for recreational purposes and material read to learn. As an English major I am sure that you would agree that there is an immense difference between Dr. Seuss, Dragon Ball, Hemingway, Cormac McCarthy and Thomas Pynchon. I wouldn’t expect an average high schooler to grasp McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian” or just about anything from Pynchon. I would expect them to understand almost anything of Hemingway’s. I would hope that their time wouldn’t be wasted on Dr. Seuss or Dragon Ball (even for recreational purposes). “Maus” or “The Watchmen” would be a different matter.

Which is useful clarification, because I now understand his intellectual position. A lot of things happen during puberty, and thus while this image is smut for nine-year-olds:

This series--at least in Cato's considered conservative opinion--is perfectly acceptable for high-school library acquistion to open shelves for fifteen-year-olds.

Oddly enough, I agree with him on that; I just think he really doesn't agree with himself.

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