Duke University placed Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home on its suggested summer reading list for incoming students. The book, which was adapted into a Broadway show that won Best Musical at this year’s Tony Awards, is a coming-of-age story about a lesbian and her relationship with her closeted gay dad.
Some Duke students refused to read the book. One wrote in a Facebook post “I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it.” Reading a book is against his beliefs? Another incoming freshman wrote “The nature of Fun Home means that content that I might have consented to read in print now violates my conscience due to its pornographic nature.” You might have consented to look at pornography. On the other hand, you might not have. There’s one way to find out. The inclusion of Fun Home on the suggested reading list made one new student at Duke remark “I thought to myself, ‘What kind of school am I going to?’” A college that suggests students read books? What the h-e-double-hockey-sticks?
One can hold on to their personal beliefs while reading about persons with different backgrounds or beliefs. I’m not an expert on religion, but I don’t think one spends eternity in h-e-double-hockey-sticks for learning about someone who in some ways differs from the reader. Maybe these students will eventually come to realize this. They are in school; perhaps they’ll use their time there to learn.
Today is the 48th birthday of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Hopefully it’s not against your religious beliefs to check out twenty of the band’s best.
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