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Another Offending Book

This time it’s our neighbors to the North. The Edmonton Sun is reporting that a Robert Edwards of Toronto is objecting to his 17-yr-old son’s English class (grade 12, I assume this is the equivalent of U.S. high school senior?) being assigned The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. He says he’s taking issue with some of the language in the book, that if the kids used this language in the hallways they’d be suspended… Suspended for language? I can see detention but suspension? The article doesn’t mention specifically which passages Mr. Edwards is referring to, so it’s hard to say what is grounds for suspension in Toronto.

At any rate, he has filed a complaint with the school board to remove the book from the classroom. He doesn’t like the “sex, brutal situations, murder, prostitution.” Sounds like a lot of pop fiction to me, murder mysteries, police procedurals, etc. I wonder if this kid is allowed to watch any movie or tv show with rating higher than G?

Robert Edwards, who launched a formal complaint about the Canadian novel, says the foul language, anti-Christian overtones(emphasis mine), violence and sexual degradation probably violate the Toronto board’s policies of respect and tolerance.

Yeah, let’s pretend none of that happens in the world. He further says:

He considers himself religious, and believes religion should be discussed, but if one faith is going to be “cast in a critical light, then the board ought to open it up” to others.

And I think here we have the crux of the matter. He feels his idealogy is being discussed negatively. No dissension in the ranks, eh? Please. The book is not anti-Christian, but it is certainly anti-fundamentalist of any stripe. Now bear in mind, this book was published in 1985, long before the current wave of anti-Islam sentiment started to fester, but the book is now being called anti-Islamic because as the article says “the women are veiled and polygamy is allowed.”

So now this poor kid has been assigned Brave New World to read in place of The Handmaid’s Tale. How’s that for irony? Yeah, that’s safer. AND, he has to leave the class whenever the discussion turns to THT. No wonder kids are embarrassed by their parents.

To the school’s credit the matter has now been elevated to a committee review. They’re not caving in and letting one parent dictate which books are acceptable.


Writer of vampire stories and science fiction. First novel, "Revenants Abroad", available now at Amazon. If you like a vampire you can go out drinking with and still respect yourself in the morning, I think you'd like Andrej.

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