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FEMA Removes 9/11 Coloring Book For Children From Website 324

FEMA has decided to pull a children's coloring book entitled, "A Scary Thing Happened" from their website. The coloring book contained three images of the twin towers on fire for children to color. Rose Olmsted, the coordinator behind the book said, "I stand firm that it was a very well thought-out and useful resource for kids, but it's obviously being misinterpreted by a lot of people." Since people are so upset about the coloring book, I can only assume FEMA's plan for a human remains concentration game will be put on hold.


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FEMA Removes 9/11 Coloring Book For Children From Website

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  • Wrong move (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday April 30, 2009 @02:47PM (#27776737) Homepage Journal
    Censorship is a bigger danger to the American Public than any FEMA publication.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MikeBabcock ( 65886 )

      Obviously the submitter is heavily biased and can't be bothered to think past his or (very unlikely her) own prejudices.

      That final sentence is just "hey look at me, I'm a bigot but listen to me anyway."

      For some reason, this [penny-arcade.com] comes to mind.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by spun ( 1352 )

        What prejudices and biases are you talking about? What does a Penny Arcade comic about punctuation and flaming fan-boys have to do with the summary? I just don't understand what you are referring to at all.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by vvildcard ( 1544763 )

          As with most Penny Arcade strips, it's not about the game the strip is specifically referring to, it's about the concepts that are at play in the background... you gotta read between the lines.

          The point, if you can't see it, is that the poster goes through the following process:

          1. Frames his rejection of an idea.
          2. Claims he's not a bigot/hypocrite and/or attempts to validate why he's certified to hold such an opinion.
          3. Makes a stupid statement that completely invalidates the main thrust of his positio

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by spun ( 1352 )

            Are you reading the same summary I am? Because I do not see:

            1. Anything framing a rejection of an idea.
            2. Any claims about lack of bigotry or certifications of opinion holding.
            3. A stupid statement that completely invalidates a position or confirms bigotry.

            Could you point out examples of what you are talking about? I'm still utterly at a loss, trying to figure out what you see that I don't see.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by MikeBabcock ( 65886 )

              Since you and several others missed it, read the final sentence in the summary: "I can only assume FEMA's plan for a human remains concentration game will be put on hold."

              The poster is trying to make an invalid point employing reductio ad absurdum. Assuming there is no such memory game, the poster is using an absurd example that is even worse than the one that does exist to try and emphasize how bad the existing image is.

              This is a logical fallacy. The image itself should be judged on its own merits instea

      • by FromellaSlob ( 813394 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @09:52PM (#27782259)

        his or (very unlikely her) own prejudices.

        Palpable irony.

    • Re:Wrong move (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jonnythan ( 79727 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @02:57PM (#27776957)

      I certainly cry whenever I see a citizen or agency decide not to publish something based on negative public reaction and publicity.

      Wait, what do you mean that's not censorship?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) *
        Yes, public pressure is a very frequent mechanism used for censorship.
        • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionary.yahoo@com> on Thursday April 30, 2009 @03:30PM (#27777419) Journal

          I notice YOU haven't published the coloring book on YOUR site either, Mr. Perens. Therefore, by your own logic, you are a censor.

          Except that is not censorship. Nobody is banning anything. FEMA is choosing not to use our tax dollars to publish a coloring book on their own web site. Calling that censorship dilutes the meaning of the word, and it demeans the struggle against real censorship.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by belmolis ( 702863 )

            The difference is that the FEMA site is a site to which people go in search of information about disasters and emergencies. Bruce Perens' site is not. Furthermore, until some silly people began to complain about it, FEMA did have it on its site.

            No, this isn't censorship in the strict sense, but it is unfortunate that a government site should take down a perfectly appropriate publication because some people whine about it.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by sumdumass ( 711423 )

              Isn't the government supposed to be accountable to the people? Then why on earth is it a bad thing when they listen to them and not publish something?

              • by mengel ( 13619 ) <mengel@nOSpam.users.sourceforge.net> on Thursday April 30, 2009 @04:15PM (#27777989) Homepage Journal

                Because the people who are asking them to take it down are silly, that's why. Things like coloring or drawing pictures (and talking about the pictures thus drawn) of traumatic events is good therapy. Removing something that supports that is silly.

                So yes, the government should be accountable to the people. But they should also know when a few people are being silly and complaining about something that is actually worthwhile.

                On the other hand, kids that are of a coloring-book age (like my 5-year-old) at this point probably don't remember September 11, 2001, anyhow.

                • by eln ( 21727 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @04:34PM (#27778325)

                  On the other hand, kids that are of a coloring-book age (like my 5-year-old) at this point probably don't remember September 11, 2001, anyhow.

                  Isn't that the point? To explain a tragic and significant event in what is to them American History in an age-appropriate way? I don't see what's wrong with that.

                • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 30, 2009 @04:49PM (#27778621)

                  Since it happened 8 years ago, I'm am POSITIVE that your 5-year-old doesn't remember it.

              • by EastCoastSurfer ( 310758 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @04:51PM (#27778677)

                Isn't the government supposed to be accountable to the people? Then why on earth is it a bad thing when they listen to them and not publish something?

                Since when did populism become such a good thing? The government should be holding up the values that created the country and not caving to every populist whim. Accountable to the people means balancing between a vocal minority (and often a vocal majority) and the values in a country. I'm sure there is a large majority of people who would love the government to cut everyone checks for a 100k. When government refuses are they not being 'accountable to the people?'

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by spun ( 1352 )

              See, now this is how we calmly and rationally discuss an issue without resorting to hyperbole. I happen to disagree that this is unfortunate. Not that I think it is fortunate either, I think it is utterly unimportant.

              Seriously, if you are going to the FEMA site for tips on how to talk to your kids about terrorism, you have bigger problems than the disappearance of a coloring book.

          • I don't think I've ever agreed with you before, spun!

            • by spun ( 1352 )

              Libertarians suck! Wait, what did you say? Sorry, that's just kind of an automatic response from me. Property is theft! It's like Tourette Syndrome. The free market is broken! I call it 'Libertariette Syndrome.'

          • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday April 30, 2009 @03:55PM (#27777747) Homepage Journal

            Freedom of speech does not require that I give anyone a podium.

            FEMA, in this case, was forced to remove the material due to pressure to be "politically correct". Yes, that's censorship.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by jonnythan ( 79727 )

          That may be, but there's still no censorship going on here.

          Sorry, Bruce.

    • And censorship of this... I don't see what is wrong at all with creating resources like this for helping small children cope with disasters.

    • by Toonol ( 1057698 )
      Censorship that abridged the right to free speech is a danger. Since the government isn't forbidding anybody from publishing a tasteless coloring book, I think we're fine. Government sites aren't obligated to publish EVERYTHING, just like it's not a violation of constitutional rights if a government press decides not to publish a particular book.
    • by Firehed ( 942385 )

      Yes, it is. But deciding to pull a publication after you realize that it was in inexplicably awful taste isn't censorship. The government pulling that publication for you (which didn't happen, if TFS is anything to go by) would be.

    • Agreed. So does anyone have a link to download this coloring book?

  • Wrong decision (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Roadkills-R-Us ( 122219 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @02:48PM (#27776775) Homepage

    But given the level of ignorance and PCness in this country, not at all surprising. Games and coloring books are two ways kids learn, remember and process things. I recall growing up with coloring books that depicted, for instance, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Nazis, etc. It didn't turn me into a hateful monster or give me terrible dreams; it helped me learn, remember and understand. I've talked to several friends about this (I have friends across most spectrums you can come up with) and they reached the same conclusion.

    We've become absurdly over-sensitive as a nation.

    • ---
      We've become absurdly over-sensitive as a nation.

      QFT. I like to call it the "pussification" of America.

    • And, if you read Fahrenheit 451, is one of the main reasons that firemen will soon start fires, instead of putting them out. We can't have books, because they will offend people.

    • Re:Wrong decision (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rotide ( 1015173 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @03:25PM (#27777333)
      I totally agree with your conclusion. We're entirely over-sensitive, especially in the U.S.

      However, I have issues with the coloring book and I'm mostly glad it was removed.

      In my opinion, 9/11 is still a very large and very sore subject for many people. I believe the little fly-by stunt the government pulled this week proves that. However, that's not the direct reason I think the book was "off color" (forgive the pun).

      I was speaking with my girlfriend and we're in agreement. Children, especially children that are at the age where coloring books are a learning aid really don't need to be exposed to the details of 9/11. Frankly, most children barely understand that different people live in different parts of the world. The U.S. is a big enough place with enough demographics to keep a kids mind chugging out questions for quite some time.

      Children coloring in planes flying and blowing up into buildings won't mean squat to them. The word "Terrorist" is basically just another word for "bad" or "stranger". The meaning of what happened and what it means is entirely lost on a child.

      Think of it this way, I can't see explaining to a child (of coloring book age) what really happened on 9/11. What is a coloring book really going to teach them then?

      I don't know, rambling a bit here, but I just don't see the point in coloring in 9/11 imagery. If you want children to learn about 9/11, show them news footage and witness accounts. Then teach about the politics and religions that led up to the event and what happened afterwards (in response to and the just because's). But kids of that age, again, really aren't ready (as a whole) to be told, let alone understand, what really happened.

      Regardless of what you may think, Wars, Nazis, 9/11, etc, just simply aren't coloring book material. Lets keep kids coloring books to Spongebob and Animals. When they are old enough to understand and respect what happened, then they can be exposed.

      All this is of course from a schooling perspective. If you want to teach your kids about the realities of the world at home at whatever age you choose, please feel free!

      • And while you are at it, keep those kids away from Grimm's fairy tales.

      • Re:Wrong decision (Score:5, Informative)

        by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @04:19PM (#27778053) Journal
        You've missed the point of the coloring book. Read through it [thesmokinggun.com]. The purpose isn't to teach kids about 9/11, like you seem to assume, it's to help kids get through a traumatic experience. These are kids who had their house burned down or something, and even if they don't understand exactly what happened, they are going to feel the emotional impact of it. The book is just a way to help them deal with it.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by coaxial ( 28297 )

        I was speaking with my girlfriend and we're in agreement. Children, especially children that are at the age where coloring books are a learning aid really don't need to be exposed to the details of 9/11.

        Somehow I really doubt that details beyond: "New York", "World Trade Center Towers", "Airplanes", "Fire", and "Collapse" were involved. If you think honestly think that these details are too much, then you and your girlfriend are seriously underestimating that children understand the very very basics of th

  • by slashkitty ( 21637 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @02:48PM (#27776781) Homepage
    Is what the government is saying. Please forget this ever happened.

    It's like trying to take guns and cannons out of civil war coloring books.

    It happened and it's history. People need to know the truth.

    • Remove all 9/11 images is what the government is saying. Please forget this ever happened.

      Because the more fixated you are on the events of 9/11, the less likely you are to vote Democrat. Or so the prevailing sentiment on both sides of the political aisle goes. Republicans trot out the images every opportunity they get when up for election, from dogcatcher through president, and the Democrats feed the Marketing Mindset by running from them like vampires from garlic -- or doing stunts like this.

      I think it

    • It happened and it's history. People need to know the truth.

      And an appropriate way to teach kids about it is to have them color in pictures of burning buildings and planes aiming for buildings?

      Sorry, big bag of fail there. Kids who need coloring books to learn about a terrorist attack do not need to learn the history yet. Wait until they are older, when it can be taught as history and discussed rationally, instead of indoctrinating their very young minds.

      • by drakaan ( 688386 )

        Well, as a publication from FEMA related to disaster response, it probably made a lot of sense when it was released.

        I seriously doubt that the book talks much about terrorists and "indoctrinates young minds". On the contrary, removing the book (assuming it talks about how to deal with people being hurt and dying unexpectedly) initiates it's own fair share of indoctrination, don't you think? Ever tell a kid "you can't read/watch/see that", and have them ask you why? You learn a lot about yourself and your

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by maxume ( 22995 )

          If I ever have kids, the first step will be to teach them that I'm a hypocrite.

          After that, when they ask why not, I can tell them I am an asshole, while emphasizing that they aren't to use such language.

        • FEMA selling the books == indoctrination.
          FEMA removing the books == indoctrination.

          If selling the books or removing the books both result in indoctrination, does that mean FEMA == indoctrination? :)

          It just goes to show you the power of perspective. Mine is that FEMA shouldn't have published the thing in the first place, because it does nothing to actually prepare kids for disaster events (a stated purpose of FEMA). I wouldn't call its publication indoctrination and I wouldn't call its removal censorship:

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Culture20 ( 968837 )
        The coloring book was produced to help kids process something that a _lot_ of them saw on live television _while_ it was happening, including the second plane strike, the people jumping, and the towers collapsing; not to mention the bajillion talking heads who were visibly shaken themselves.

        "A Scary Thing Happened", and the kids were going to be thinking about it, and maybe drawing it anyway. Maybe it might have been good to let them know (via a coloring book) that scary things are rare, and that happy t
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 )

        Sorry, big bag of fail there. Kids who need coloring books to learn about a terrorist attack do not need to learn the history yet.

        I'm not sure someone who has to describe something as a "big bag of fail" has a proper perspective on what children need much less how to educate them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rts008 ( 812749 )

      Is what the government is saying. Please forget this ever happened.

      DHS, Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping, TSA, color-coded 'Terrorists Might Get Us Today' alert levels, Boston freaking out over L.E.D.'s, troops in Afghanistan, troops in Iraq, 'No Fly' lists, etc...

      I think that genie is irrevocably out of the bottle, but it would still not surprise me if you were correct.

      It happened and it's history. People need to know the truth./quote
      And remember it to avoid the same mistakes.(we seem to be having trouble with this one)

      Just remember kiddies, when you stick your head in the sand, it puts your butt up in the air for easy access...have plenty of lube ready.

    • This was simply done to balance the karma equation, after terrorizing most of lower Manhattan with a 747 and a fighter jet.

      Karma restored. Yay government!

  • by vjmurphy ( 190266 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @02:48PM (#27776793) Homepage

    In those coloring book images, you can clearly see that the towers were rigged for demolition! See, I just drew in a team of CIA operatives with a TNT plunger! COVER UP! I call COVER UP!

  • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @02:53PM (#27776887) Journal
    This is just the first government agency publication to be pulled. To come:

    FEMA's Katrina Snorkel & Search underwater body hunt field kit
    The SEC's Big Book of Why Daddy Contemplates Suicide guide to financial hardship for kids
    The FDA's Crush&Snort Mortar and Pestle Set

    Look for a complete list to be published by early summer.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Don't forget the DEA's Crystal Meth EZ-Bake Oven. That one's a classic.
    • To the mod who decided to mod the parent post overrated:

      Yes, it's not very funny. However, the primary point of the post was to lampoon how ridiculous the catastrophe coloring book idea is. Whether or not you agree with that point is something else, but I hope you considered the idea.

      Off-topic, completely, I know... but it seems there are so many rush-moderators now, maybe you'll consider thinking about it next time.
  • by vrmlguy ( 120854 ) <samwyse&gmail,com> on Thursday April 30, 2009 @02:57PM (#27776951) Homepage Journal

    Here's a copy of the coloring book: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/graphics/pdf/femacoloringbook.pdf [thesmokinggun.com]

    • by BitwiseX ( 300405 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @03:19PM (#27777257)
      OK.. so after flipping through it the only thing related to 9/11 is the cover and ONE page. The rest of the coloring book doesn't refer to any specific events, just "disaster". It looks to me like a good effort at educating children about disaster and coping with it.

      Why can't they change the cover, change the image on that page, and MOVE ON!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bratloaf ( 1287954 )
      I just read through that entire thing, and seems to me this is a really good and well thought-out coloring book about general disasters and helping young kids cope. The cover is really the only thing that's 9/11 related - and if you look, even that is just ONE part of the disasters represented. I think this is clearly yet another example of overzealous political correctness - i.e. pussification.
      • by mutube ( 981006 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @03:45PM (#27777609) Homepage

        I agree. I'd never heard of this book before now (I am from the UK) and expected something either frightening/sickly sweet. It's actually good.

        If anything the only problem I can see with the use of the 9/11 image on the front is that it's 'out of date' - in the sense that there have been a number of more recent disasters that it may be better to refer to (given the target age).

        Change the cover and it's good to go, no?

        • I agree as well, just replace the 9/11 imagery with more generic disasters and it'd be fine.

          The only thing that did annoy me was the christian cross on the last page, though at least it was very subtle.
      • by Altus ( 1034 )

        putting the towers on the front cover was a bit PR mistake though. If they hadnt done that they probably would have avoided this whole mess.

        You cant judge a book from its cover, but most people do anyway.

    • Thanks.

      I'll be adding this file to the rest of my collection "Stuff Bigbrother nerfed". I'm sure after four years I'll need to create a database to index all the contraband I've collected.

  • Not a big deal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ogive17 ( 691899 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @03:10PM (#27777121)
    I remember when I was between the ages of 6 and 10 I use to draw battles with tanks, jets, and stickmen. I had people falling into volcanoes, getting blown in two by bombs, getting hit by "tracer" round gunfire, etc. Guess what, I'm still pretty normal. I don't have the urge to blow anyone up or shoot anyone.

    While I agree it's a bit odd to have the twin towers getting hit by airplanes in a coloring book, I wouldn't have a problem with my kids coloring the picture.
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @03:15PM (#27777207)

    ..to teach kids about bad stuff.

    Hansel and Gretel -- your parents can't feed you so they abandon you in the woods to starve to death. Kids had to be exposed to the realities of the world, which despite our attempts to pretend otherwise, were way worse for your typical non-aristocrat in 17th century Europe. Abuse. Abandonment. Starvation. Fairy Tales served as a way to expose kids to what might happen next.

    How is that story -- which was a real threat back when famine and starvation weren't just inspirations for pop music sing-alongs -- any worse than a 9/11 coloring book which tries to help kids understand what happened?

    We're so fucked when the response is to just shelter kids from everything. Shelter them from nothing. Expose them carefully and they will learn.

  • It's been over 7 years since 9/11, so I'm not sure how relevant painting burning towers now would be for a kid who probably wasn't born yet.

    For those who say history shouldn't be covered up, that's true, but this isn't a history book. It's a coloring book aimed toward coping with disaster.

  • Airplanes! (Score:5, Funny)

    by SnarfQuest ( 469614 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @03:43PM (#27777573)

    So that's why they flew air force one over New York City. They were making a live action version of this comic book.

  • TV news anchor: In another news, due to the lack of any major natural disaster, ... *cough* *cough*, ... hope I'm not catching that little swine flu virus, FEMA moved to create a PR disaster by publishing a 9/11 coloring book for children who get extra off-school days from the flu.
  • That's so stupid it's passed around to the other side to become genius. I totally want a copy.

    What's the spirally thing to the left? A tornado or the Tasmanian Devil?

  • Coloring Book (Score:2, Informative)

    by Niris ( 1443675 )
    For those of you too lazy to go searching for it (I'm rather surprised I'm not in this group this time) here's a copy of the coloring book. I'm sitting at work coloring it right now, yay!


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