Barry Saunders

How dare we expect these Duke freshmen to read something that may challenge them?

Some freshman students at Duke University have refused to read “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel, claiming it violates their religious beliefs.
Some freshman students at Duke University have refused to read “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel, claiming it violates their religious beliefs.

All opinions are precious in somebody’s sight and as such deserve to be respected.

That’s why it’s distressing that – to some precious little darlings at Duke University who fear they’ll turn into a pillar of salt if they read an assigned book featuring homosexuality – many people are reflexively saying “kwitcherbitchin’ and read the damned book.”

Not I. I respect their desire to not be exposed to something that runs counter to their religious beliefs. The Constitution guarantees us life, liberty and the right to emerge from college as dumb as we were when we went in – even at nearly $50,000 tuition a year.

On top of that, it’s a little-known, made-up, scientific fact that reading about homosexuality can indeed induce its onset in some impressionable people – and the freshman students at Duke who are refusing to read “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel have every reason to be leery. Even I, after watching a “Will & Grace” marathon one rainy weekend, suddenly found myself humming “I Feel Pretty” from “West Side Story.”

Not only that, but after reading “Portnoy’s Complaint” by Phillip Roth in high school, I became obsessed with corned beef on rye and egg creams. Being from Rockingham, of course, the only bread we’d ever seen was light bread and wouldn’t have known an egg cream from a spaceship.

Mortified: how one feels when your hungry self strolls into a New York deli in 1990 and orders an egg cream with cheese, only to find out it’s not a new way to scramble eggs. Yep, I did that.

If $3 can get you a burger your way, shouldn’t $50,000 a year ensure that you receive the education you want, one that won’t make you blush and that conforms to your limited worldview?

That’s not a knock; as 18-year-olds, how could their worldview be anything but limited? Some people have the silly notion that a university should be the place you go to have your views of the world challenged and strengthened, not where they’re just going to tell you what you already believe.

You know what we call those people? Commies.

At $50,000 per, you have a right to dictate what you want to be taught.

Of course, if it’s the subject matter that the pious frosh at Duke find objectionable, you have to wonder if they’ve ever read the Holy Bible. If so, did they read the one that – like the toilet at the Hideaway Motor Inn with the paper strip around it – was sanitized for their protection, with all of the naughty parts deleted?

Man, they missed out on a whole lot of knowing and begatting, which is how we be got here. I’m guessing I’m not the only person who has read the Bible – the salaciousness in which makes “Game of Thrones” look like a day in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood by comparison – and gone, “Wow! They were doing that back then?”

Some people may pity and regard as closed-minded the students who refuse to read a book that they find offensive – or that they think they’d find offensive, since they haven’t actually read it.

The students are, to the contrary, geniuses. Those of us who think back to all of the bacchanals we missed in college because we stayed in to read an assigned novel should feel like grade-A chumps right about now. All we had to do was show up on Monday morning and say, “Sorry, Mrs. Faversham. My religion forbids me to read that book.”

Mrs. Faversham: Your religion forbids you to read “To Kill A Mockingbird”?

Me: Yep. We ain’t allowed to kill no birds. We’re members of the Church of the L.D.O. - Latter Day Ornithologists.