Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Rape Fantasies

Charley Morasch, who was defeated in his bid for a seat on the Blue Valley School District in Johnson County Kansas (suburban Kansas City) has now filed a complaint against Margaret Atwood's short story "Rape Fantasies."

Morasch campaigned as a supporter of intelligent design and for censorship of 14 award-winning books included on the Blue Valley high schools reading list.

Atwood's story is included in an anthology -- among dozens of other short stories -- used in senior Advanced Placement classes, which demand college-level course work from students.

Morasch, apparently, has persuaded Roger Kemp, the father of Ali Kemp who was murdered in an attempted rape at a community swimming pool where she worked as a lifeguard to sign a formal challenge demanding that Blue Valley North High School remove the short story from its reading list.

Red State Rabble feels a good deal of sympathy with Roger Kemp and his family. Our youngest daughter --then just nine years old -- was at the Leawood pool with a friend on the afternoon Ali Kemp was murdered. Kemp's body lay hidden in the pool house while my daughter and her friend swam and played for several hours that day. They still remember her cell phone, left on a pool chair, ringing over and over again as her family tried to make contact. The murder was a senseless tragedy.

Benjamin Appleby has been charged with strangling 19-year-old Ali Kemp. He was arrested in Connecticut last year, where he was living under an assumed name.

As a father, our hearts go out to Roger Kemp and his family. We can't help but think how lucky we are that the killer was gone when our daughter and her friend arrived at the pool. We can't help thinking what might have happened if the timing were just a little different.

Having said that, we still oppose pulling Atwood's short story from the reading list. Censoring the story will not prevent a single rape. It will deprive seniors in Advanced Placement classes from reading a first-rate piece of literature.

There may be something more sinister to this story, as well.

The Kansas City Star is reporting that Kemp now says "he did not realize that by signing he was participating in a formal challenge."

Red State Rabble has not been in contact with Roger Kemp. We have no knowledge of what Charley Morasch may have told him, but we sincerly hope that this grieving father was not manipulated by cynical right-wing operatives in order to add the spice of sensationalism to their censorship campaign.


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