Sole Focus

News, Views, Rantings & Ramblings by Carey Parrish

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Location: Georgia, United States

Saturday, September 3, 2011

On Coloring Books and Class (Or a Lack Thereof)

Very few things really shock me anymore. In this day and age of outright stupidity and downright idiocy, I think most of us are becoming desensitized to the outlandish. Yet now and again something pops up that just blows my mind with its audacious ridiculousness. Such was the case this morning when I turned on CNN and saw TJ Holmes attempting to conduct an interview with one Wayne Bell.

Bell is the publisher of Really Big Coloring Books, Inc. His latest project is a 36 page “graphic novel” that tells the story of 9/11/01 from the plotting of the terrorist attacks by Osama Bin Laden to the execution of Bin Laden by Navy SEALs. In the outline in the book, Bin Laden is shown cowering behind a woman wearing a burka while a SEAL shoots him. The coloring book features similarly offensive graphics for kids to color throughout.

Personally, I find this coloring book offensive. I cannot imagine any parent buying it for a child to use as amusement. There is no art contained within its pages and the text included, which tells the story of Bin Laden’s exploits, is absolutely crammed with bad grammar, according to the Indiana Student Daily. I cannot comment on this because I haven’t read it, and I have no plans to do so either.

In my opinion, it takes a really disturbed mind to come up with a coloring book for children that presents something as awful as the 9/11 disaster in such violent detail. The title of this “graphic novel” is We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids’ Book of Freedom. Well, I shall never forget the thoughtlessness, stupidity, and lack of intelligence that it took for Bell and his company to publish something as offensive as this coloring book. I am appalled that anyone with half a brain could think that the public would accept something this potentially hazardous to our children. It is beyond me to comprehend that degree of ignorance.

During the interview with Bell that I saw on CNN, TJ Holmes had to repeatedly interrupt him in order to ask the questions that viewers wanted answers to, because Bell kept going off on tangents about how his book is proper, has the support of parents, was written with the involvement of Muslims, and that it is entirely appropriate because parents will have to make the decision whether to buy it for their children, or not. It was clearly apparent that Bell felt a need to justify his decision to publish this coloring book and he kept trying to turn the debate toward any opposition to it, as if he thought that would make him look better in the context of the interview. He was clearly floundering because every time he was asked something he didn’t want to answer he’d just try to switch the focus of the question onto something he wanted to say. It was really sad but it was also hilarious that this guy can think people watching him will take his side.

I suppose there are those who will support his position. I went to the website where the book is being sold (notice I wrote website and not websites) and there indeed are some comments at the bottom of the page applauding the book. One purports itself to be from the UK. I don’t know where these comments are coming from, or if they’re authentic, but I do know there are people out there who will want to fan the flames this book is creating and there are also those who love to revel hate.

And this is where I draw the line with Bell and anyone else who would support the sale of his coloring book. I see it as a tool of hate. I consider it to be the attempts of a group of people who want to begin teaching our children that they should avoid anyone different from themselves. Distrust and ostracism lead to ignorance and it is ignorance upon which hatred is based. So I find it nonsensical that anyone would think presenting a coloring book like We Shall Never Forget to children would be aimed toward any sort of understanding.

It took a massive amount of hatred for those who plotted and carried out the 9/11 attacks to realize their goal. It cost thousands of people their lives. The one lesson I hope history takes away from this blot on humanity is that tolerance is what we should be striving for as a species. When people from every walk of life can accept that there are those in the world who are different from themselves, take the time to learn about why the differences exist, and live together in mutual respect of one another’s right to believe the way they choose, then we will see an end to hatred.

I abhor violence and the presentation of such to children will only fuel their imaginations, at a very impressionable age, to go out and propagate it. In my opinion, We Shall Never Forget is a tool for doing just this. Do we really want to keep traveling down that road? Have we learned nothing from the terrorist attacks on 9/11? Can we sit idly by and let people like Bell peddle propaganda such as this? I do not condone censorship but I do ask that people show some class, some intelligence, and some common sense.

Freedom comes with responsibility. We’ve got to exercise logic when it comes to the decisions we make. I find nothing logical about whatever it is Bell is trying to accomplish through a coloring book aimed at kids that tells the story of hatred.


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