This is getting ridiculous. A Study In Scarlet has been removed from a Virginia 6th grade curriculum–why? Because some of the passages are florid descriptions of what Arthur Conan Doyle believed were Mormon religious views and activities. And yes, again, on the basis of ONE complaint, a book that had been taught for years as an introduction to the mystery genre has been removed. But just in case one thinks this is banning a book, oh no, they’ve replaced it with Doyle’s The Hound Of The Baskervilles. Personally, I believe the book has an unfair depiction of hounds, and think it needs to be removed on that basis.

What the Hell! Sorry, this deserves an expletive. I’m not in love with Sherlock Holmes, never have been. I find the works tedious, boring, and completely uninteresting. That’s only an opinion. I also understand the immense importance of the works, of how crime fiction was altered due to these stories, how iconic Sherlock has become. And how much influence the character still has in today’s world. A recent film that is far removed from the literature, but still within Sherlockian boundaries, was released recently and has captured enough viewers there is a sequel in the making. So, what the Hell!

I don’t give a monkey’s uncle what religion, personages, colors, governments are depicted incorrectly or with racism. That is how life was back when this book was written–people thought a certain way, right or wrong, and it is not for this generation, or any, for that matter, to decide that retroactive, a book needs to be changed or removed because of such depictions. Why can’t teachers TEACH? Why won’t the school boards let them do their job? Why must one individual with their own single agenda have the power to persuade an entire thinking group of people that teaching such a book is so horrid, so destructive, it needs to be removed? The ‘righteous’ of the world,—‘righteous’ being how they think of themselves, not as how they really are–they are SELF-righteous to the rest of us– demand censorship on the basis of a perceived injustice. They don’t understand that the injustice they are babbling against is the very thing that NEEDS to be studied, needs to be explored, needs to be repudiated, if found to be erroneous. Ditching the title does nothing to allay inaccurate ideas regarding a specific religion. Why not have the teacher delve into what the author writes and help the students discover a new area–in this case a religion, in others it could be customs of another country, or the basis of racism towards a specific group.

Because the ‘righteous’ have their own pathetic agenda, to have power enough to force an entire school curriculum to change. It’s not enough to bring their politically correct concerns to the school board, and allow them to address the matter in the manner I stated above, it’s not enough for the school board to give their word that the viewpoint of the author will be scrutinized and his assertions checked against history. Because I’m sure, even if a smart educator and school board were to present this alternative to the complaining ‘righteous’, it would just not be enough. Their agenda is for themselves, and them alone. Their civic duty begins and ends with their own opinion–reason, thoughtful ideas have no affect upon such an individual. Because if reason could affect them, the ‘righteous’ would try to look at the entire picture, the entire point of teaching a book, the entire student body, and what they may learn from such a book. They would realize that one opinion does not make a majority, that one opinion should not be bowed down to, that one opinion is just that-ONE opinion.

But how can they understand this when school board after school board acquiesce to these single complainants?  Until the school boards of these challenged titles step up to their real responsibilities, and address the ‘righteous’ in a manner that the rest of the parents and public can applaud, more and more ‘righteous’ people will find fault with something, anything that is chosen for students to read.

There is no reasoning with people who see themselves as keeper of the public political, sexual, and violent correctness in public schools. There is only repudiation. And until groups of parents put pressure on school boards to go in the opposite direction of the ‘righteous’, the boards will keep folding at the first sign of dissent. Goodness forbid that a lawsuit, or publicity, or sanity enters the picture.

I know probably somewhere out there in schoolland, Mother Goose has already been banned. Oh my, you may be saying, on what basis? There’s probably dozens and dozens for the well equipped fanatic. Starting with the rhyme about 10 little–well, you know whats–but most texts have already eliminated that offensive rhyme. However, another rhyme makes fun of a man from Bombay, still another portrays two brothers sharing the same BED and the two are always in it! There’s murder–someone shot cock robin–and of course the robin’s name is quite inappropriate. Let’s not condone child abuse–that old woman is whipping her children and not even feeding them! There’s cannibalism–a little woman is eaten whole! Little Polly Flinders got a good whopping from her mom, the owner of black sheep discriminates against a crying kid, and there’s a serial kisser who gets away! Sexual harassment, stealing pigs, child labor, and an underage dish runs away with a spoon, no one stops them–the cow jumps, and the cat just fiddled, while that dog! That dog just laughed. What are all these things teaching our children??

If you are of a ‘righteous’ mind–nothing good!

http://eddyfate.com/2011/08/21/a-study-in-scarlet-banned-because-of-you-know-stuff/

 http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2011/08/sherlock-holmes-book-banned-by-virginia-school-district.html

http://centeredlibrarian.blogspot.com/2011/08/study-in-scarlet-banned-in-virginia.html

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9 thoughts on “Now SHERLOCK HOLMES Has Been Targeted–The Same Old Song–School Book Censorship,”

  1. Bravo again Diane. These school boards are literally pathetic and they cave to these singular whims, but when faced with 100 parents pleading to keep music and the arts funded they suddenly have backbones? What is wrong with these “elected” officials that one vote is more important than 100 votes. Are they that idiotic? The evidence would lead us to say Yes, of course!

    Here is a message to every school board member within the reached of my keyboard. You are there to help the MOST people possible with the resources you have. The football team can use last year’s uniforms like ALL the other sports have to. Just that one gesture can buy new books, more computers, pay for buses to get the marching band to one more competition, fund a new club, sponsor an educational assembly program. This is just this ONE THING that keeps ALL the programs functioning. This is logic, this is teaching, this is sharing, this is humanity, THIS is PUBLIC education!

    I also am not the biggest Sherlockian fan, but this book should not have been banned in this district and replacing it with the Hound of the Baskervilles does NOT offer the same learning experience. Again PATHETIC!

  2. Ditto to everything you’ve said, you’ve said it so well. Very depressing that good books are thrown out on the basis of one or two opinions. School boards need a SPINE.

  3. Diane, You said – Quote – “Why can’t it occur to the righteous of the world, because that is the only description that fits someone who demands censorship on the basis of a perceived injustice, understand that the injustice they are babbling against is the very thing that NEEDS to be studied, needs to be explored, needs to be repudiated, if found to be erroneous.” -end quote

    First of all I would like to say there is a difference between the righteous and the SELF-RIGHTEOUS. I believe that throughout the posting you should have been saying self-righteous. A righteous person has immutable truth to back them up while a self righteous person only has their ego and imagination.

    Quite true that these writings can be read with an eye to TEACHING what is right and wrong about them or different aspects that might lead some kids to see that oftentimes somewhere in the middle is the place to stand.

    By your posting I’m reminded of Professor Kirke in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when he said, “Logic! Why don’t they teach logic at these schools?”

    Perhaps it is because many of the teachers, school board members and supervisors have never heard of it. Not to mention the self-righteous complainers.

    1. prying, I was about to leave a comment that you are absolutely correct, it should be self-rightous, when I realized, that no–my point is they THINK they are ‘righteous’ in exactly the definition you give. They certainly wouldn’t herald themselves as ‘self-righteous’ because it has a negative connotation. So, yes, they really are ‘self-righteous’ to the rest of us, but to themselves, they are ‘righteous.’

      What I realize is the quote above I don’t have ‘righteous’ in quote marks like I do here. That is a mistake I will fix.
      But yes, logic is something we as a society have been lacking of late.

      1. The quote marks work. As you said, “they THINK they are ‘righteous'” so the quote marks are even better than changing it to read ‘self-righteous’.

        Now the question is: Was I full of “righteous” indignation or righteous indignation in my complaint over your use of righteous? (Smiley Face here)

        1. I’d say that you were neither full of ‘righteous’ indignation, or righteous indignation. I think you were smart and thoughtful and helpful. I didn’t feel indignation, at all, lol. But if there were some, then I’d have to go with just plain righteous. No self in there! LOL.

  4. My high school had an excellent “detective fiction” elective for seniors. After complaints from an offended *teacher* (who, I believe, made murmurs about legal action due to an uncomfortable workplace if forced to read such things), various of the books were pulled (Dorothy Sayers due to stereotypical physical descriptions of Hebrews, even though the characters themselves were positive, and so forth). After the teacher left (not a good fit at that school… or anywhere, if you ask me!), the books were put back. So it’s not just fear of PC complaints that can cause it – it’s also fear of lawsuits!

    1. Good grief! Let’s really really hope that individual changed careers. She would need to have practically every book written before political correctness removed, if she’s offended by the stereotypes of the time!
      People are just plain crazy.

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