Opinion » Note

On Stories On Stories


As sometimes happens, this week we have a couple of pieces that ended up playing on a similar theme: that the stories we tell (especially to ourselves) have a life of their own, even if we don't want them to.

Boise Weekly columnist Bill Cope puts on his investigative journalist cap and continues his pointed dissection of the meaning behind the Don't Fail Idaho education reform campaign--specifically, the differences between reality and what we're told about for-profit and charter school education. While Idahoans might think they defeated the so-called Luna Laws at the polls, Cope argues that the same privatization advocates are still at work, pushing the same solutions to the same problems--and angling for some major cash.

You'll find another piece about the power of stories, where BW staff writer Harrison Berry takes a look at the controversial decision in Meridian to remove Northwest author Sherman Alexie's novel Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from a high-school reading list.

Pulled from the curriculum on the concerns of a few parents--led by a grandmother, speaking on behalf of her Rocky Mountain High School sophomore grandson--district officials claim they simply want a book with a higher reading level. Free speech advocates call it as they see it: censorship.

But as is the usual case with any kind of prohibition, putting something off limits makes people want it more. Berry's piece shows how the novel's sales have jumped on Amazon.com, and he talks with a pair of Washington state women so angered by news that the book had been removed from Meridian's curriculum that they're taking it on themselves to make sure any kid who wants to read it can get a copy.

Finally, we have a big story about two stories: one told by a man who claims his life has been upended by a radiological accident at the Idaho National Laboratory; and the lab itself, which says that while mistakes were definitely made, the resulting damage was not its doing.

Part of Boise Weekly's ongoing Watchdog series of investigative reports, freelance writer Jessica Murri spent the better part of two months piecing together the story of Ralph Stanton and his exposure to plutonium at INL in 2011. Through hundreds of pages of documents, dozens of hours of conversation and a trip across Southern Idaho, the story unfolds but it's far from clear-cut.