Bonfire Planned, Bring Your Own Kindling


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And she's off on a rant again….


In Monday evening when I was vaguely skimming the paper, seeing what had happened during my four-day absence from anything not exhibit-related (I still giggle when placing em and an exhibit in the same sentence – bear with me for a bit longer, okay?), I came upon this article which tells the story of the Toronto Public School Board looking into a complaint about To Kill a Mockingbird. Apparently, some dimwit - and clearly I have no problems with broadcasting my particular bias early - wants it banned. This book has previously been pulled from the grade 10 English curriculum by the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board in response to the parents complained about the use of the n-word.

WTF???

If a book, as described in the article, "chronicles racial injustice in the American deep south" during a specific era, why on earth would you ban it because of the N-word? Is the n-word in this book not a vital component of chronicling racial injustice? If you're trying to teach adolescents about racism and its historical evolution, why would you even think of omitting literature - nevermind something that's considered a classic - that actually makes the experience of racism visceral and real that way only a great story can?

The article also talks about last year's review of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, complained about by yet another dimwit because of "sexuality, language and criticism of religion" and I would say WTF again, except perhaps I should attempt to achieve a higher level of intellectual discourse.

Heaven forbid that we should actually teach our children to think. Heaven forbid that we should show them how ugly isms are. And teach them to consider how extremism happens and what it can do to our world so maybe the kids can go out there and not fall for the kind of circuitous and limited arguments usually involved in such schools of thought… well, that's just radical, innit? No, instead, let’s burn ‘em all. Anything we don’t agree with, find vaguely objectionable and especially the books that makes us feel queasy and challenged and… oh my, think of The Children!

Protecting said children from information is one of the most ludicrous ideas I've ever heard. The only protection that works, that combats racism, sexism and extremist ideologies is development of critical thinking. And in order to teach kids critical thinking, they need exposure to the kind of source material, questions and discussion that will arm them when they next encounter a dimwit.

I'd go on for a while, but the ranting has taken my available energy, so I'm going to go stare vacantly some more. I'm hoping that you'll have a lively debate in the comments section.


Monday's contest is still open - leave a comment by Thursday, 6pm to qualify.




Comments

Kaz said…
If it's any help, my level of intellectual discourse on this particular topic, with your examples, is exactly the same! And this is a school...??? FFS!!! BOTH books you mention are highly valuable, well-written texts that can be used (apart from just being great reads) to study any number of social issues that are as relevant now as they were when the books were written.
Sometimes I wonder really, how far we've come...
Anonymous said…
Yeah, I don't think I have any desire to waste an electron of my intelligence on such a stupid idea. Apparently American stupidity is contagious. Sorry.
Kirsten