9.30.2011

Banned Books: A Study in Shame on my old school district

Last month the Albemarle County school district, which sits all around Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, made international news for banning a book. What could have been a bit of local headshaking (though I missed any local coverage) was picked up in news articles from DC to LA to the UK. Everyone was bewildered and offended on behalf of the beloved series.

What salacious novel did they strike down?

Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet, by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Yes. Sherlock Holmes.


This lurid tale of murder, mystery, and machinations is no longer suitable for 6th graders.

Why was it banned? It presents Mormons in a negative light, and provides an incomplete view of their religion. I wonder if school districts could ban all books that present topics with a negative bias. I wonder what would be left to read.

Disclaimer that I found in the comments of the UK article: poster claims the tale of the book's banning has been blown slightly out of proportion, as it was not banned exactly, just stricken from the reading list due to an offended/concerned parent. Students can still find this book, as well as other Holmes tales in the library. So there's some hope for the avid reader.

2 comments:

Stuart Nager said...

This PC crap has to stop. If we were to negate all things we find offensive but not teach WHY, then we're not doing anything but putting bandaids around it.

When you tell me I can't read something, guess what I'm going to try and find?

Now, if you presented it in context, ala Twain's use of the N word in Huck Finn, it makes sense, and places it in a historical context AND can teach why words like that are so negative.

Without it? It just stays harmful and scary.

Jason H. said...

My eighth grade English teacher, who was quite a character, frequently wore a shirt that demanded in large letters: "BAN CENSORSHIP". They may not have banned Doyle's book, but it could have a similar effect- or just the opposite, as notoriety may attract more readers.