On second thought, maybe I’m the moron. All these years, I thought consensus, or majority, was needed to effect change. It turns out I was wrong. All it takes is one complaint.
Like in this case: a parent complained to the principal of St. Edmund Campion Secondary School in Brampton, Ontario because students were reading To Kill A Mockingbird. This parent did not like the book’s use of the N-word, and raised a fuss. The principal, being a sensible, sound educator, responded like this:
- “Harper Lee’s classic novel of racial injustice and small-town mythology did more to ease America through the racially charged changes of the 1960s than any other work of fiction. As well, it stands as one of the finest pieces of literature ever put to paper, and continues to inspire successive generations to explore the foundations of their beliefs and morals. It led to one of the finest films ever made and now, a half-century after it was written, remains one of the most important works of all time.”
Wait, no, he didn’t. Principal Kevin McGuire promptly removed the book from the school’s curriculum, saying it would be replaced by a Canadian work. He didn’t say which one. Just that it would be Canadian. The area’s Catholic school board supports the decision, and the provincial education ministry says McGuire is well within his rights.
Look, I’m all for getting more Canadian fiction into schools. We have some brilliant writers, and we don’t know them as well as we should. And if that were really the reason for replacing To Kill A Mockingbird — among my favourite books and films, I should mention — then I would go along with it. I might not like it, but it’s McGuire’s choice.
But to give in to one parent? If I’d known it was that easy, I would have been complaining a long time ago:
- I want to send my kids to school with peanut butter sandwiches. They love them, and if other kids are allergic, they should probably just not eat them. Or sit in a separate area.
- If my kid jumps the farthest in the long jump on track and field day, give him the top prize. Don’t give every other kid the same ribbon because “they’re all winners.” Give the winner the prize. Everyone else lost. That’s life.
- I would like those teenagers to pull up their stupid pants.
Do you think I should try any of these complaints? And if I did, do you think my kids’ school would listen? No. Because I’m one voice. The principal would laugh me out of the office, as well she should. So why did Kevin McGuire listen? Why did he give in?
Read the story here, then let me know what you think.
Oh, why is the parent the moron, and not the principal? Because the parent is clearly someone so politically correct that he or she wants to shield children from history, from important stories that can change lives. That’s no way to help kids learn about their world. Hide the truth from them, and it has a bigger effect when they discover it on their own. The principal, meanwhile, isn’t a moron. He’s just weak.
If you don’t know what To Kill A Mockingbird is … you should get right on it.