Canada killing the mockingbird

Students nursed upon Seussian sox in a box with a fox develop constricted literary palates.  Upon later entering the educational profession, they become easily abstracted and disordered when life doesn't rhyme.

A school board official for the Peel school district in Mississauga, Ontario, wrote a letter telling teachers they should not employ Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.  The official cited racist content written from the perspective of a white supremacist as justification for banning the book.

It follows that two millennia of Western literature will soon be tossed into a 451-degree bonfire of the politically correct and intersectional vanities, too white for the rest of the world to bear.

The letter states, "The idea that banning books is about censorship and that censorship limits free speech is often decried as a poor reason to keep the novel on schools' reading lists as its racist themes make it violent and oppressive for black students[.]"

So banning books is not about censorship.  Banning books is not about limiting free speech.

I'm okay with Mockingbird not appearing on a compulsory reading list; all three of my children spent way too many hours reading way too many books that sledgehammer the evil white racist versus innocent minority theme.  Often, it seems there is no other subject to be covered in the whole wide world of public school literature.

And I might agree that some black parents "detest the idea of their children having to read this novel."  That is, I might agree if I didn't know better; black people drop the N-word at a discount astonishing to the average Ontario school board official.  Well intentioned but dishonest progressives bury that word every five years or so in the city where I live; it is always miraculously resurrected in black vernacular and song.  Such is human nature – that word is a valued possession black people reserve and maintain exclusively for their community.  Only black people can play with it.

But to read a whole novel as clearly written yet deftly layered as Mockingbird and to miss substantial ideas because of a misdirected focus upon racial issues is mindless.

Atticus Finch tells Jem, "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy.  They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.  Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

The mockingbird is an innocent who never means harm.  There are more than a few wounded mockingbirds populating this novel.  Tom Robinson is most obvious, so superficial liberal readers cling to his race; the novel stops for them at this juncture.  Arthur "Boo" Radley is an injured innocent.  Walter Cunningham, Junior is a damaged victim of poverty.  Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose, an incapacitated old woman, suffers a drug addiction.  Dill treasures unspoken and unfulfilled promises from the imaginary loving father he will never see.  Atticus himself is a hurt soul, widowed and alone.

Finally, consider 19-year-old Mayella Violet Ewell.  Veiled in subtext is the certainty that Mayella suffers physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her father.  The accusation momentarily protects her from another beating.  Her wings clipped by brutality, one must explore the depths of humanity to find sympathy for Mayella.  Lee hopes the reader will grasp and ultimately feel this problematic awareness.

Atticus says, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view ... [u]ntil you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

If we climbed into the skin of this Peel school board official, we would find a hollow cavern of darkness armored with dimness chained to dullness.  We would discover the very definition of a person who should not be in charge of anyone's education.

Students nursed upon Seussian sox in a box with a fox develop constricted literary palates.  Upon later entering the educational profession, they become easily abstracted and disordered when life doesn't rhyme.

A school board official for the Peel school district in Mississauga, Ontario, wrote a letter telling teachers they should not employ Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.  The official cited racist content written from the perspective of a white supremacist as justification for banning the book.

It follows that two millennia of Western literature will soon be tossed into a 451-degree bonfire of the politically correct and intersectional vanities, too white for the rest of the world to bear.

The letter states, "The idea that banning books is about censorship and that censorship limits free speech is often decried as a poor reason to keep the novel on schools' reading lists as its racist themes make it violent and oppressive for black students[.]"

So banning books is not about censorship.  Banning books is not about limiting free speech.

I'm okay with Mockingbird not appearing on a compulsory reading list; all three of my children spent way too many hours reading way too many books that sledgehammer the evil white racist versus innocent minority theme.  Often, it seems there is no other subject to be covered in the whole wide world of public school literature.

And I might agree that some black parents "detest the idea of their children having to read this novel."  That is, I might agree if I didn't know better; black people drop the N-word at a discount astonishing to the average Ontario school board official.  Well intentioned but dishonest progressives bury that word every five years or so in the city where I live; it is always miraculously resurrected in black vernacular and song.  Such is human nature – that word is a valued possession black people reserve and maintain exclusively for their community.  Only black people can play with it.

But to read a whole novel as clearly written yet deftly layered as Mockingbird and to miss substantial ideas because of a misdirected focus upon racial issues is mindless.

Atticus Finch tells Jem, "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy.  They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.  Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

The mockingbird is an innocent who never means harm.  There are more than a few wounded mockingbirds populating this novel.  Tom Robinson is most obvious, so superficial liberal readers cling to his race; the novel stops for them at this juncture.  Arthur "Boo" Radley is an injured innocent.  Walter Cunningham, Junior is a damaged victim of poverty.  Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose, an incapacitated old woman, suffers a drug addiction.  Dill treasures unspoken and unfulfilled promises from the imaginary loving father he will never see.  Atticus himself is a hurt soul, widowed and alone.

Finally, consider 19-year-old Mayella Violet Ewell.  Veiled in subtext is the certainty that Mayella suffers physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her father.  The accusation momentarily protects her from another beating.  Her wings clipped by brutality, one must explore the depths of humanity to find sympathy for Mayella.  Lee hopes the reader will grasp and ultimately feel this problematic awareness.

Atticus says, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view ... [u]ntil you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

If we climbed into the skin of this Peel school board official, we would find a hollow cavern of darkness armored with dimness chained to dullness.  We would discover the very definition of a person who should not be in charge of anyone's education.