Anti-wankers want to ban book in Virginia high schools

Robert Cormier's "The Chocolate War" talks about masturbation, but one self-satisfied student wants it pulled.

By Hank Hyena

Published November 9, 1999 5:00PM (EST)

Nov. 9, 1999

Masturbation would have a firm grip on first prize if there were a contest for "What We All Do But Don't Want To Talk About." Despite 1990 Kinsey data revealing that 94 percent of men and 70 percent of women pleasure themselves privately to orgasm, our onanism remains taboo.

Virginia students and parents are stiffly protesting references to willie-wanking in "The Chocolate War," the award-winning 1974 novel by Robert Cormier. A Nov. 7 article in the (Hampton Roads) Daily News reports that freshman Chris Malpass lightly fingered through the assigned book's filthy sections, but refused to carefully study it. Instead, he wants the book banned from all four York County high schools. "The teachers shouldn't be pushing it," he insists.

His mother, Rita Milpass, has filed a formal complaint demanding that the book be jerked off the school's approved reading list, due to its sexual content, profanity and violence. To pump-up her protest, she submitted a petition signed by 225 residents, primarily fellow church members at Bethel Baptist Church.

One of the self-stroking passages the Milpasses find objectionable is the pragmatic hands-on advice, listed below:

"If you're going to masturbate in a toilet, at least lock your door," Archie taunted.

"The Chocolate War" is 1999's sixth most-challenged book in American schools, according to the American Library Association. This ranking implies that it is more controversial than two gay-friendly books: "Heather Has Two Mommies" (No. 7) and "Daddy's Roommate" (No. 8), but far less scandalous than the top-ranked "Alice" series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, which examines a middle-school girl's encounters with sex and relationships.

Masturbation controversy has also spewed into the presidential campaign, with wooden Al Gore's hiring of Naomi Wolf as an advisor. Wolf's advocacy of masturbation as a means of postponing sex in adolescents will undoubtedly inspire phlegm from the same constituency as the "don't touch your privates" Virginians.

Hank Hyena

Hank Hyena is a former columnist for SF Gate, and a frequent contributor to Salon.

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