walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

I Really Hate Quotations Out of Context

Today's example is Mark Twain's Pudd'n'head Wilson's remark about God, idiots and school boards. It took me a while to find it (maybe 5 minutes), but it is from _Following the Equator_, and if you've read any of Twain's travel writing, you recognize that it is Problematic. At the very least. The quote is the epigraph for chapter LXI, and it is quite breathtaking how offensive Twain manages to be to how many people (then and their equivalent identity groups now) in such a short space.

So, yes, I get that people don't like school boards, because local politics get quite impassioned and sure, there are some loony boards out there who do really irresponsible things. But using _that_ quote to make _that_ point is, perhaps, not your best choice.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2895/2895-h/2895-h.htm

I will also add that while I am ordinarily sympathetic to arguments in favor of high schools being less academic and/or at least having a stronger voc/tech component, reading Twain's version of this argument is so appalling to me that I'm just going to stay out of all of that sort of debate from here on.
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