Rewrite of Aesop Fable for California Schoolbooks Sparks Firestorm of Controversy

by Daniel Brenton

in Highly Odd News

The Ant and the Grasshopper
“Look out, guys, they’re re-writing us again.”

BERKELEY, California: The ancient Aesop fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” the brief tale that touts the virtue of hard work and preparedness, has become the center of a firestorm of controversy this week. Monday, several San Francisco Bay Area school districts, following the lead of the Berkeley Unified School District, placed a new version of the story into their Third Grade curricula that many critics are calling “revisionist,” and Conservative commentators are condemning as “Liberal brainwashing.”

The controversy, dubbed “FableGate” by Right-Wing journalist and blogger Michelle Malkin, has sparked multiple lawsuits, and prompted the Texas Board of Education to counter with a Conservatively-skewed version of their own.

Exclusive! High Oddness has acquired the texts of both the Berkeley Unified School District and Texas Board of Education versions, and is posting them below.

We will be watching with interest as this controversy unfolds.

(Please note that Berkeley Unified School District attorneys have already threatened legal action against High Oddness on the grounds of violation of copyright and criminal obstruction of education. If we are no longer here next week, you will know why. — Daniel.)

The Berkeley Unified School District Version of “The Ant and the Grasshopper”

One autumn day near a wheat field Gail the Grasshopper, who was very hungry, was just about to take a bite out of a huge and crunchy grain of wheat. Unseen by Gail the Grasshopper, Arnold the Ant came up behind her and snatched the grain out from her forelegs.

“Why did you take my food away from me, Brother Ant?” asked grasshopper.

“First,” said the ant, “you are a grasshopper, so I am not your brother. Second, we Worker Ants of the Corporation planted this wheat last Spring, so this is the Corporation’s food, not yours. Third, you should be stocking away food for winter when there will be no food in the fields. Or, you should get a job so you can buy food from the Corporation. Good luck on finding one, hoppie, because the Corporation won’t hire your kind.”

“But I’m hungry!” cried Gail the Grasshopper.

“You are a loser,” said the ant. “You should have pulled yourself up by your bootstraps like the rest of us, instead of whining about entitlements no one has the money to pay for.”

“‘Entitlements’?” said Gail the Grasshopper, not understanding. “I just want something to eat!”

“Take responsibility, hoppie. Your hunger is not my problem.”

Gail the Grasshopper finally became so upset she lost her temper. “Oh yeah?! Let me tell you what you are! You’re just a tool for the Capitalist Fascists that are bleeding the life out of the masses that you help oppress with your big box stores and your union busting tactics! You and all the other pawns for your Big Business overlords are turning Mother Earth into a toxic wasteland, all in the name of soulless corporate greed! All you are is a mindless little cog they’ll throw away when you’re all worn out and can no longer serve their Big Machine!”

Arnold the Ant glared at the grasshopper for a moment, and then he cursed at her with a string of very dirty words, punched her in the eye, and staggered away, balancing the huge grain of wheat on his shoulders.

Winter came. Weak from hunger and unable to find any food to gather or any jobs to work, Gail the Grasshopper, Connie the Katydid, Karl the Cricket, and all their friends and family came to the door of Arnold the Ant.

“What do you want?!” said Arnold the Ant.

“We’re hungry,” Gail the Grasshopper said.

“That’s not my problem, hoppies,” said the ant.

Karl the Cricket pushed his way to the door. “The ants have stolen the farm land for their own though it belongs to everybody,” he shouted. “They claim they planted the wheat, but they plant nothing. They turned my father and mother away from their doors in the middle of winter to die, and the following spring the piles of food they still had left rotted.” Karl the Cricket turned to the crowd. “NO MORE!” he shouted. “WE MUST ACT!”

Arnold the Ant tried to grab his assault rifle, but was trampled to the floor as the mob of hopping insects burst through his front door.

The moral of this story: Grasshoppers of the world unite — you have nothing to lose but your hunger.


The Texas Board of Education Version

The Ant and the Grasshopper

In a field one summer’s day, Garlan Grasshopper was cruising on his ride, a tricked out Japanese beetle, sub-woofers pounding out his faves. He pulled up alongside Alan the Ant, who was dragging part of an ear of corn along the ground toward his home.

“Hey!” shouted Garlan the Grasshopper over his music. “Alan! Take a load off. You’re working way too hard, man. Cruise with me for a while.”

Alan the Ant kept plodding forward. “I’m laying up food for the winter,” the ant shouted back. “You ought to do the same.”

“Hey,” said the grasshopper, “you worry too much. We’ve got more food than we know what to do with.”

“You’ll be sorry,” Alan the Ant said.

So Garlan the Grasshopper left and cruised all through the summer and into the autumn, and Alan the Ant kept to his schedule and had his storehouse of food ready in time for the winter.

On the first week of December there was a knock at Alan the Ant’s door. It was Garlan the Grasshopper, shivering and emaciated.

“You gotta help me, man,” said the grasshopper.

“I can’t, Garlan. I’m not sure I’m going to make it through the winter myself, let alone help anyone else.”

“I never thought I’d hear you lie to me, man.”

“You’re calling me a liar?”

With that, Alan the Ant slammed the door shut on Garlan the Grasshopper.

The next day there was another knock at the door. Alan the Ant opened it to find Sheriff Roach.

“Alan the Ant,” he said, “you are under arrest for food hoarding.”

“I’m under arrest for what?!”

Garlan the Grasshopper and all the other grasshoppers had marched on the office of Governor Mantis, and Garlan the Grasshopper told Governor Mantis that Alan the Ant had lied to him about how much food he had and had turned him away in his moment of need. With this, Governor Mantis declared a regional emergency, which gave him the right to do … well, to do just about anything.

After a three-day standoff with a SWAT team, Alan the Ant ran out of shotgun ammo and he and all the other ants were arrested and put in jail. Their food stores were confiscated, the food was distributed to Garlan Grasshopper and the other grasshoppers, crickets, and locusts, and it was eaten in just three days.

A week later, Garlan Grasshopper sat frostbitten in the cold on his dead Japanese Beetle ride, food gone, the batteries for his sound system exhausted, and his strength fading as starvation ran its course.

The moral of this story: Move someplace where there aren’t any grasshoppers.

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Copyright © 2010-2012, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.

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