Editorial: The Peel School Board’s pulp friction

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High school can be a tough time for a young person. However, if you’re lucky, you’ll run into at least one wise censor who cares enough to make sure you don’t get exposed to any new ideas.

At least, that’s what the Peel School Board seems to believe.

The school board in Ontario has apparently taken it upon themselves to protect children by plucking the most dangerous books from library shelves and pitching those books in the trash.


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It might have been more efficient to dispose of the books by recruiting firemen to crank up their flamethrowers to 451 Fahrenheit; but I’m guessing the Peel School Board didn’t read that book.

There are important questions to be addressed but, unfortunately, the school board seems to believe in transparency as much as in literacy.

When asked by reporters to address those empty shelves, the quantity of books that were removed and most importantly, why those books were removed, reporters were told the board couldn’t talk as they were “focusing on students.”

Those poor students.

The board calls the culling process “weeding.” However, when you look at the long stretches of bare shelves in the library, it seems more like deforestation.

The books that have been removed are the ones deemed to be less than inclusive, harmful, or not supportive of the school’s curriculum. It seems like a reasonable standard until you consider that an empty shelf is not harmful and capable of supporting a school’s curriculum.

This generation of children regularly faces barrages of misinformation as well as pitches from influencers whose business model depends on nurturing narcissism and eroding empathy.

Reading isn’t the only answer to those problems, but it is one of the answers. Familiarity with words and nuance and can be crucial in separating fact from fiction. Reading for pleasure allows you to conjure emotions and ideas out of bleached and flattened pulp. That mixture of imagination and empathy, as author Neil Gaiman points out, allows us see new worlds, appreciate different perspectives, and to function as more than a self-obsessed individual.

Ultimately, what makes the book cull so appalling isn’t that the school board has such a low opinion of books, it’s that they have such a low opinion of children.

Kids are smart. They’ll be even smarter if you don’t take away their books.

And one last note for the school board: At the end of the story, the censor always turns out to be the bad guy.


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