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January 13, 2006

Okay, so Ms. Cavanaugh just officially stopped being cool.  You know that shirt I have that says Mushroom Boy on it and has that old-school Nintendo pixellated version of Toad between the “Mushroom” and the “Boy”?  The one that’s pretty much been my favorite shirt for the last YEAR AND A HALF, and that I’ve worn many, many times over this period, and that I’ve therefore worn to Ms. Cavanaugh’s room many, many times because I have PAWS with her and go into her class every day of the year, without exceptions?  Well, this week, I went up to Ms. Cavanaugh to ask her a question about something or other, wearing this shirt, and she looks at it and says, “Chris, what exactly is a ‘mushroom boy’?”

“Uh… well, it’s a boy… with a mushroom for a head.  Like the guy in the picture.”

“Mm-hmm.  What do you think one of the vice principals would say if you told them that?”

“Um… I really don’t know.  I’ve never really showed it to them.”

“But you know how they would probably take it.”

“… Well… I guess…”

“Well, I don’t pay much attention to the shirts people are wearing, so I never realized what this shirt actually says.  But you can’t have a reference to mushrooms on your shirt.  I don’t want you wearing this shirt to school anymore, because I don’t want to have to ask you to go show it to one of the vice principals, okay?”

“Yeah, but… this is my favorite shirt…”

“Just wear it outside of school.”


The very next day, Brandon in my Film class was wearing a shirt that had the big McDonald’s “M” symbol with “arijuana” in smaller letters following it.  Beneath that, it said, “Over one billion stoned.”  And my shirt is the one that gets banned.

Yeah, so Ms. Cavanaugh is like, the Censorship Nazi.  My parents and everyone else I’ve talked to says how that’s totally ridiculous.  I mean, yeah, I suppose that double meaning was most likely intended by the makers of the shirt–I got it from Hot Topic, after all–but come on.  You really think I’m wearing this because, what, I’m promoting getting high or something?  I got it because Toad is one of my favorite characters from my favorite games, and also because my haircut sometimes resembles a mushroom, making me look like Toad.  At least that’s what I’ve heard.  And Toad is the fastest character you can play as in Super Mario Bros. 2, which fits with my whole cross country thing.  If that’s not enough for you, look at my eight or so other Nintendo-related T-shirts.  There.  QED.

I mean, seriously, saying that my T-shirt promotes drug-huffing is akin to suggesting that Mario games in general promote the same thing.  What’s the number one item that Mario acquires in his many adventures?  That’s right, the mushroom.  Mushrooms make you big and strong, that’s what those games teach you.  And the ESRB rating on those games says it’s for children six and up.  We’re telling kids as young as six to go huff mushrooms!  And that’s not all.  What about stuff like Alice in Wonderland?  Yeah, that doesn’t have drug references in it at all.  Or The Wizard of Oz–that’s an LSD trip if I ever saw one.  If I got a T-shirt that said, “Poppies will put them to sleep,” would I not be allowed to wear that either?  Even though it’s a direct quotation from a classic film for all ages?

It got me thinking about how many words and phrases there are in the English language that are completely harmless in the literal sense, but can never be used in that sense again because of connotations of sex or drugs.  Like “give it to me.”  Or “coming out of the closet,” or “coming out,” or “coming.”  I heard a story where one girl said, “You don’t have to rub it in,” and another girl responded, “Ewwww, you’re sick.”  All right, you can still use some of those, as long as you’re not talking to a dirty-minded moron, but you can certainly use mushrooms too.  If someone says they’d like some mushrooms on their pizza, do you ever giggle under your breath?  Well, yeah, now you will.  But you wouldn’t have before.

Thing is, absolutely everything that has ever been said could be taken in a bad way.  I’m planning on writing a Valentine’s ad to Rod saying, “You can be my eraser anytime, baby.”  Trust me, that’s DIRTY if you know what I’m talking about, but I’d like to see Ms. Cavanaugh censor that.  (She probably will, actually.)  But even that I could understand because, for one thing, it’s her newspaper, and she can choose not to put in whatever the heck she wants, and for another thing, it doesn’t really have an innocent meaning corresponding to it, even if you can’t guess exactly what the non-innocent meaning is.  And here’s what it comes down to–if someone doesn’t know what it is, won’t they just take it at face value?  They’ll just see Toad and say, “Oh, he has a mushroom on his head,” and that’ll be the end of it.  The only ones whose minds are getting corrupted are the ones whose minds already are.  And isn’t that all censorship is?  Preventing our school’s youths’ minds from getting corrupted by words?  As if there’s anything left that words can corrupt by the time you get to high school…

Wow, that was an extraordinarily long rant.

Also, selling Valentine’s Day ads sucks.  Having people fundraise for a grade is so much more immoral than not censoring.  Thanks to Andrew Broadbent for making it easier for me by buying seven inches.


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  1. Hey I like that shirt ive seen u wear it!

  2. Completely agreed.This one time, I thought Mr. Richards was going to confiscate my supercommie shirt when he accosted me in the lunch room, but he was just interested in where I had obtained it and we talked for a while.I bet he would like your shirt.

  3. Incidentally, your “This shirt is bananas” shirt is awesome.

  4. aww valentine ads suck it it honestly why i did not take the class again.  i cant believe she did that!! she is crazy. 

  5. Dude no way! I love that shirt. You’re so the mushroom boy… Rally the villagers! Bring the torches and pitchforks!

  6. Anonymous permalink

    cavanaugh is the reason i quit fbla and interact. well technically she killed fbla for interact. but still, i quit. hey chris can i buy an ad, and since cavanaugh is of course an upstanding citizen and all, and therefore wont permit any communist manifest quotes, can i please quote “mein kampf”?

  7. Anonymous permalink

    or even better, ill find some obscure quote from mao ze dong’s red book

  8. Anonymous permalink

    haha oh yeah, i liked your QED.

  9. wilson, my valentine ad to myself will kick your valentine ad’s butt 🙂
    and chris…that means i must buy one from you, or two… depending on how much i feel like spicing up my life.

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