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On Friday, the Mississippi Senate passed a controversial bill that will keep many commonplace books from being taught in the state’s public schools. Dubbed the “Liberate Our Learning” bill, it will ban or severely restrict the teaching of any books that “encourage discrimination against any party on the grounds of its natural attributes,” that “glorify negative or harmful behaviors,” or—the category that the bill’s critics have called the most politically motivated and dangerously open-ended—that “push anti-American ideology, whether explicitly or subliminally.”
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Reid Washington of Hattiesburg, voted last year to pass a similar bill focused on keeping what he called “woke indoctrination” and “unpatriotic education” out of Mississippi schools. That bill passed 34-15 in the Senate with Republicans for and Democrats against, and placed books like Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist” and Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility” under scrutiny for their alleged demonization of American ideals and white society. While Senate Republicans voted unanimously for that bill, three Republicans, Sens. Shelby Milford of Mendenhall, Toby Tackett of Meridian, and Justin Reeves of Vancleave, went the other way in Friday’s vote.
Sen. Washington expressed his frustration with not receiving every Republican’s vote. “[On Friday] as on the day of last year’s vote, the Mississippi Senate decided on a very straightforward piece of legislation. To vote “yea” is to do your part in protecting the children of Mississippi from harmful, hateful ideology in their schools. To vote “nay” is to turn a blind eye. It’s beyond me how anyone could’ve possibly voted one-way last year and the other way this year. Of course, I expect this kind of negligence and vacillation from my Democratic colleagues, but I certainly don’t expect it from the members of my own party.”
“I just really don’t see how you can justify voting to ban the teaching of “Aesop’s Fables,” said Sen. Milford. “I mean, it’s just a bunch of animals that walk and talk and teach you lessons. At this point, I wonder if my kids will even be able to watch SpongeBob in a year’s time.”
According to Sen. Washington, several of the fables, which date back to the sixth-century BC, contain “Leftist hate-preaching and brainwashing focused on undermining the American way of life.” When asked how a figure from over two millennia ago could’ve possibly sought to undermine a nation that didn’t exist yet, Sen. Washington replied that Aesop was “playing the long game.”
The bill and its supporters found “The Tortoise and the Hare” to be especially problematic. Sen. Washington cited its “championing of lethargy and leisure over talent and hard work” and its “inherent demonization of privileged classes” as grounds for its banning. “It starts out as nothing more than a story they have you read in the first grade about a couple of cute animals,” said Sen. Washington, “but it ends with our children despising the hare for nothing more than his natural talent and propensity for firing off a few zingers from time to time. Then, as they grow older, they begin to associate the hare with the rich and the white. Suddenly they’re throwing bricks through store windows and setting squad cars on fire. I fear that if we don’t stop this pipeline in its tracks now, we’ll live to regret it.”
In addition to “Aesop’s Fables,” the bill also sees the highly controversial removal of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and “The Three Little Pigs” from Mississippi classrooms. “Goldilocks” was banned for its alleged “glorification of breaking-and-entering and theft akin to the practices of the Antifa movement,” with Sen. Washington adding that Goldilocks “is as prodigal with her porridge as the Democrats are with taxpayer dollars.” “The Three Little Pigs” received the axe due to its “harmful anti-capitalist sentiments based in a metaphorical demonization of landlords.”
Sen. Washington told reporters that while he’s happy with Friday’s victory, he sees it as merely the first of many more to come. “My colleagues and I have already begun drafting legislation that targets another one of the most harmful institutions in our state’s schools: mandatory naptime. How can we let our children sleep when they should be learning? It does nothing but diminish the value of hard work, and it’s sickening to think how long this has gone on under our noses.”