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Opposites

I hope that most people saw the story about the School Administrator in Southlake, Texas, who told a teacher that if she teaches a book on the Holocaust in her classroom, she must also have a book with an opposing view.

This came about because Texas, which desperately is trying to go back to Tennessee before the Scopes trial, passed another one of their awful bills, one which seeks to stop the teaching of so-called Critical Race Theory in the classrooms. The law requires teachers to teach “differing perspectives.” But as with most of these repressive bills, it goes much too far, and so a teacher called the administrator, saying that she was terrified as to what to do. The administrator said that she should just be sure to teach opposing perspectives, and she gave the example of the Holocaust, and she said, “Believe me, it has come up.”

Apparently some Nazis in Texas do not like the teaching about the horrors of the Holocaust, and want there to to be “another side.” That is what the administrator meant when she said it has come up. There certainly are laws in various states which require that any book which has any mention about evolution, must also teach about religion, and give religious alternatives to scientific facts, and the theories arising from them.

This is born out of ignorance, and contempt for science. Now it has spread to contempt for facts, and for history. Anything is open to contention. I have for decades imagined a weekend news show having a pre-WWII debate between a rabbi and Hitler, presenting “both sides of the debate of whether Jews should be destroyed.” Does that sound ridiculously far-fetched, when “both sides” is the motto of the media? Ted Bundy and a nice gentleman from down the street, discussing the two sides of whether murder is a valid behavior choice?

Yes, that is very dark. Just going back to the state of Texas, they are terrified of their children being indoctrinated by Critical Race Theory, whatever that is. So, since they believe in passing bills to control behavior, they decided to force teachers to “teach both sides of it.” Which of course can be easily extrapolated, certainly in this administrator’s view, to requiring teachers to teach “both sides” of everything.

They obtusely think, “What could be wrong with teaching different sides of things? Doesn’t that sound inclusive?” If you are so stupid that you can’t tell facts from opinions. Shall we debate the law of gravity? Whether it is okay to ingest bleach? Whether the last election was full of fraud, which no one can specify or uncover? That if you draw a line with a marking pen moving the track of a hurricane somewhere else so that your initial contention will not be shown as ridiculously wrong, it is open to debate?

The Republicans, following the paths forged by totalitarian countries like Russia, which attempt to throw up so much misdirection and confusion so that no one can tell what is the truth, have made self-serving lying their platform. The media let most of it go, as we saw when the most insidious liar in American political history, Donald Trump, was President. And now this has spread like wildfire, to where there is no truth, there are just differing opinions; and whichever group has the loudest bullhorn, or the most money, gets to make the so-called reality.

So you have to teach theories supporting the Holocaust? The author of of the bill says, “That’s not what we meant,” but he and his fellow Texas legislators are too in love with what they think is cleverness, and control of dissemination of ideas, that they do not care to realize that laws are very often what legal scholars call “overbroad,” and cover far too much by extrapolation.

And never ignore the fact that this teacher saying she was terrified about how to follow the law, is part of the goal. If teachers are afraid to teach anything, that is a win for the barbarians of Texas. People who don’t learn anything will not have dangerous ideas which might go against what the folks of the Lone Star State want them to think. It worked in feudal times for five hundred years or so.

Well, even at the risk of undercutting this very important theme, I could not help but consider “opposite sides” in general How do you teach the opposite of geography? Flat Earth views? What is the opposite of mathematics? The opposite of spelling, we see on a daily basis. But maybe kids should be taught that any way you want to spell a word is fine, it is “you being you.”

Or in accord with Humpty-Dumpty, “a word means exactly what I choose it to mean.” Why not? Both sides! Multiple sides for everything! Well, except for abortion, which they want there to be no more debate about, just punishment–even though a vast majority of people favor the right to abortion–just not the minority which makes the anti-abortion laws and court decisions. No both sides for them there–or in any area where they have the power to tell everyone else what to do.

So I started thinking about what would be the opposite sides to various book titles, or play titles, or poems? For example, if you had to teach the opposite side to “Catcher in the Rye,” would it be, “Bourbon in the Pitcher”? Would the opposite book of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” be, “The Dour Husbands of Kent”?

Here are some possible “opposite titles” that the teachers of Texas should try to find, or have someone write, to counter some of the more famous ones. See if you can think of what more famous titles these would be the opposite of. Opposites are sometimes not completely exact, so there is room for quibbling here. These might be titles of novels, plays, poems, maybe even songs, if I think of some. Answers below. No scoring, just for fun.

1.”The Dark Green Number”

2. “Nothing’s Bad that Starts Bad”

3. “An Epic of 50 Towns”

4. “The Berries of Good Humor”

5. “Queen Sexual Harassment Lawsuit”

6. “The Sun and a Farthing”

7. “Taco Hills”

8. “He Stretches to Submit”

9. “A Few Days of Social Congregation”

10. “From There to A Couple of Circumscribed Minutes”

11. “Hate’s Indolences Won”

12. “Down the Up Escalator”

13. “Peace and War:’

14. “How Red Was My Peak:

15/ “Lawyer Yes”

1) “The Scarlet Letter” 2) “All’s Well that Ends Well ” 3)”The Grapes of Wrath” 4) “A Tale of Two Cities” 5) “King Lear” (!) 6) “The Moon and Sixpence” 7) “Tortilla Flats” 8) “She Stoops to Conquer” 9) “A Hundred Years of Solitude” 10) “Love’s Labours Lost” ” 11) “From Here to Eternity” 12) “Up the Down Staircase” 13) “War and Peace” 14) “How Green Was My Valley” 15) “Dr No”