CAWTHON'S CATHARSIS - What's a Nice Guy Like Me Doing in a Place Like This?


A few weeks ago the West Virginia Department of Education declared the Hur Herald a "pornographic" site-they may have said "sight"-and had filters installed on school room computers preventing young minds from becoming wasted on that which, although not smoked, ingested, or inhaled, nevertheless could still be defined as a "controlled substance" by the Department's protective criteria.

After our leader, Bob Weaver, discovered the blackout, or perhaps I should say whiteout to avoid Satanic inference, the filters were removed and may have been sent to Clay County for the public water supply, another reason why Clay may be going down the drain.

I wasn't so much upset by the porn label, as goodness knows, unlike U.S. Supreme Court Justices and the moral guardians at the State Department I wouldn't know it even if I saw it. However, because it was assumed that any school-age child would know how to get there from here I felt that more information should have been provided for some of us old dogs who can hardly find the Internet with both hands in a well-lit room. Tell us exactly how to find the forbidden fruit so that we may too warn the young away from the gates of hell!

I've already expressed in an earlier column how I was banned from the "girlie" shows in the traveling carnivals that once passed through Gilmer County. Then, I didn't have a draft card as proof of age and now I don't know my way across the information highway without a knowledgeable Boy Scout to lead me as I am of age to be enlightened but too feeble by age to enjoy the destination once I get there. (Somewhere between these two stages I got married and lost interest.)

Better the State Department hadn't stirred up old memories. I was raised a good Methodist in a conservative Republican home and then at an early age entered journalism where my life has been as pure as the priesthood ever since.

However, I do have an inquiring mind if a despairing body, and I was determined to see whatever it was that the state employees had seen as I have no doubt there are several on the Payroll who devote full-time surfing the net just to find hotspots unsuitable for people such as school children and me. I trust Governor Wise will honor them with certificates of appreciation as well as undated computer links.

Try as I might by clicking through the Herald, including the obituaries, I wasn't able to identify anything more suggestive than scenes from Sunny Cal. For a moment I thought I had found IT on the weather page, but what looked sexually explicit on the map turned out to be a mass hanging over Charleston. As the Legislature was in session I found on closer inspection that hot air rising to meet colder air created a passion of a different sort, but which young minds should nonetheless be warned to avoid.

Then, always with that terrible Methodist guilt hanging over me, the thought struck me: Could it have been something that I had written, but not illustrated, that sent those warning bells ringing in the Inquisition chambers in Charleston?

Disregarding the premise that few kids read nowadays but prefer visual aids, unlike my day when we peeked into a banned book and by necessity mentally formed our own dirty pictures, perhaps not anatomically correct but graphic nevertheless, the electronic age has solved all this. Could it have been Lee Maynard's Crummy book that I reviewed here? It did have some words in it that I didn't understand and some scenes portrayed that I don't think ever occurred in Glenville, at least while I was there. And, it too had been banned at Tamarack.

But whatever the cause and effect I give thanks that I live in a state where morality is still valued and where worldly wise guardians protect its citizens. Still, couldn't books such as Crum be sold to tourists from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, people who may already by locale be doomed to spend eternity with the Prince of Darkness and who might as well spend it curled up with a good book? So what if all our kids aren't above average and the men and women don't always wear clothes-shoes went long ago. While simple minds might view the premise with unbelief those people from out of state might spend precious tourist dollars learning that there is stripping in the state unrelated to the coal companies.

My usual unreliable sources inform me that Crum, which was under consideration for both a TV series and a movie, has been turned down due to its mildness for such "adult" audiences.

I tried to contact Maynard for verification but learned that he was off into the mountains of Colorado interviewing an isolated band of sheepherders as to their experiences with interpersonal relationships as part of a Crum revision.

I think I'll wait for the movie update.

Hur Herald from Sunny Cal
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