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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

‘Frindle’ has been banned in 35 states. Is Massachusetts next?

From the gator-infested bayous of the Sunshine State’s marshiest marshlands to the most rural boonies of “don’t worry, she’s my second cousin” Alabama, a war on reading is being fought by bored politicians and self-righteous parents all around the country. The latest book stirring controversy? Well, you’d need only look at the spectacle-wearing, red-haired boy firmly grasping an ink-filled writing utensil on its cover. Naturally, I’m talking about “Frindle” by Andrew Clements, and currently, Massachusetts is considering joining the 35 states—Sunshine State and Second Cousin State included—who’ve made it illegal for schools to carry copies of the book.  

Not only would this ban apply to primary-level schools, but to state universities as well, meaning that if the Massachusetts government succumbs to the anti-Frindle train of thought that’s been plaguing our nation, UMass Boston students will no longer be able to indulge themselves in the noble battle of words fought by the story’s brave protagonist, Nick Allen. But as this nationwide debate slithers its way down the throat of our campus, many are left confused over why “Frindle” would be the subject of a book ban in the first place. The reasoning given by those in support of the ban has been unanimous: “Frindle” is radicalizing students.   

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a “radical” as “one who is radical.” It may also help to know that it defines the adjective “radical” as being “of or growing from the root of a plant.” Now, unless these book-ban enthusiasts are accusing “Frindle” of turning students into deformed carrots, then it’s possible they’re referring to the second definition of “radical” which is “favoring extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions or institutions.” With the mention of terms like “changes” and “institutions,” this is most likely the relevant definition. However, ironically enough, when prompted for specific reasons as to how “Frindle” is making students radical, a deformed carrot would have probably given a more logical answer. 

“My ten-year-old has been absolutely f—ed in the mind by the radical ideas propagated by the public education system!” spoke avid anti-Frindleist, David Crowstomper. “He came into my bedroom last night and asked me, ‘Daddy, if stores require you to be clothed to go inside, then how do people get clothes in the first place?’ What the hell kind of question is that? I stormed into his room, and do you know what I found under his pillow? That goddamn f—ing ginger holding that goddamn f—ing pen. PEN! PEN! It’s a motherf—ing PEN, dammit!”

Despite unclear complaints such as Crowstomper’s, the anti-Frindleist’s have garnered enough attention and support to lead to the creation of the pro-Frindleist’s, a movement that has dedicated themselves to opposing whatever it is that the anti-Frindleists believe in. This means they’ve adopted a near-obsession with the book, swearing their lives to it like they would a spit-handshake, blood-brother pact. The main method of their fight against the anti-Frindleists consists of using famous changemakers from the past to show that the book’s perceived radicalness impacts students in a positive way. 

“The story of ‘Frindle’ has been a major influence on some of the most important minds in history,” said Francine Clackwack, the leader of Boston’s pro-Frindleist association. “When Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous speech in Washington, D.C., he did so with a copy of ‘Frindle’ on his podium. When Marie Curie discovered radium, she did so after reading through her copy of ‘Frindle.’ When Isaac Newton invented gravity, it was only after a copy of ‘Frindle’ fell from a tree and hit him in the head. Some claim this book is radicalizing students. I say, let them radicalize, for this is how change happens! It’s how Nick Allen would have wanted it.” 

It should be known that Clackwack’s claims surrounding these historical figures and their passion for “Frindle” are very blatantly made-up, as Clements wouldn’t publish the book until 1996. Why these pro-Frindleists have taken to such shameless exaggerations to defend “Frindle” is about as unclear as the reasoning of the anti-Frindleists who seek to ban “Frindle.” Ultimately, both sides seem to be taking—dare I say—radical positions on what is, simply put, a children’s novel written about a boy who decides to troll his teacher by referring to a pen as a frindle. 

Regardless of the book’s true significance, the debate surrounding whether or not it’s appropriate for students to read continues. However, while the goals and antics of those in favor of and against the novel seem to starkly contrast, they share the odd trait of caring a worrying amount about a story written nearly three decades ago intended for an audience of elementary school children just learning to read. This is, perhaps, the only thing that connects them, and in a world that is only growing more distant from itself by the day, it’s comforting to realize that if the pen is still mightier than the sword, the frindle is mightier than all.  

About the Contributor
Joe DiPersio, Humor Editor