Idaho’s very own state Senator John Goedde has introduced a bill that would mandate the teaching of Atlas Shrugged in all Idaho public high schools. Yes, mandate. By state law. In public schools. Atlas Shrugged.
MEEP MEEP DANGER IRONY OVERLOAD
Even better is the comment by Goedde himself that was chosen as a pull quote by Fox News:
“I have no intention of pursuing this requirement. I am sorry but I don’t see a story here.”
That’s right: the bill is a cheap trick pulled by a dude with the power to pull it solely to make an unrelated and difficult-to-glean political point. If that’s not a metaphor for the entire novel, I don’t know what is.
Nevertheless, if we learned anything from the insertion of “sex” into the prohibited bases for discrimination in the Civil Rights Act, it’s that cheap tricks pulled solely to make unrelated and difficult-to-glean political points have a nasty way of becoming law just when you least expect them to do so. On that note, here is a handy discussion guide for Parts I and II of Atlas Shrugged. I encourage the high school students of Idaho to bring up these questions at length in their Atlas Shrugged classes. Learning is fun!
Atlas Shrugged: The Study Guide
1. What is a “Mary Sue”? Use examples from the book to support your definition.
2. What is a “straw man”? Use examples from the book to support your definition.
3. If looting is one of the greatest possible social evils, why is it acceptable for Dagny and Hank to steal the perpetual-motion machine from the derelict Twentieth Century Motor Company?
4. When is it morally permissible to bribe a legislator? Give examples from the text.
5. Describe, using clues from the text, exactly how Jim Taggart killed Mrs. Taggart. Include at least one plausible method for disposing of the body.
6. Exactly when did you realize that John Galt is intended to be an actual character and not merely a metaphor? Were you surprised? If you were surprised, please bubble in here: ◊
7. List, in alphabetical order, all the felonies made permissible by the existence of the income tax.
8. A train enters a tunnel at 6:03 p.m., traveling at 35 miles per hour. The tunnel is 6 miles long. The train is pulling 21 passenger cars, each of which is 22.2 feet long. The train cars carry an average of 12 passengers apiece; however, no car carries more than three passengers above the median for all cars, nor fewer than one passenger below the mode for all cars. The weight of the passengers increases the weight of each car by 0.135%, thus increasing the coefficient of friction between the wheels of the car and the rails by 0.01 μ and decreasing the efficiency of the engine by 0.003% per passenger. How many of the passengers are worthless looters who deserve to die of suffocation midway through the tunnel?
9. Calculate, based on your personal knowledge of telephone operator politeness, the odds that the tramp in the vestibule of your private train car is the only person on Earth who can provide the exposition for Part III of this novel. If you have no private train car, then go to hell, looter.
10. Airplane fuel: how the @*(*# does it work?