A popular high school English teacher has been suspended after assigning his 11th-grade students a short story about masturbation by "Fight Club" author Chuck Palahniuk. Greg Van Voorhis, 30, issued copies of "Guts" — which details three increasingly catastrophic masturbation attempts by teenagers with props including a carrot, a candle, and the water intake at the bottom of a swimming pool — to about about 100 students gearing up for the English Regents exam. That didn't go over so well with school administrators at the Bronx School of Law and Finance in Marble Hill, where the seven-year veteran was quickly reassigned from his classroom duties while the Department of Education investigates.
Principal Evan Schwartz declined to say whether he thought the short story — which Palunhiak brags has made more than 60 people faint during live readings — was too obscene for teenagers. "I deemed for someone else to decide whether it was inappropriate," he said. "I had to report it."
But students at the school — where 96 percent of test-takers passed the English Regents with a score of 65 or above last year, compared to just 68.6 percent at other schools citywide — are rallying behind their teacher. "We're not little kids. We are in high school," said 15-year-old junior Omar Caminero. "It's not like we've never read anything like that — we have." Students have started a letter-writing campaign to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and have created a "Save Mr. V" group on Facebook. Junior Frankchesca Jimenez, 16, defended her teacher's decision to assign the "Guts," which was first published in Playboy. "He didn't mean it to be anything other than something we could learn from."
This isn't the first time that Palahniuk's writings have been blamed for corrupting the kids. The 17-year-old suspected of detonating a bomb outside a Starbucks in the Upper East Side was apparently intent on starting his own "Project Mayhem" — a cult-like group intent on bringing down society that was dreamed up by the controversial writer in "Fight Club."