A British Columbia elementary school teacher was scolded after she included a quote from Dr. Seuss's Yertle the Turtle in materials she brought to a meeting with school management. The story, school officials warned, was "too political" and would not be acceptable in the classroom, in the interests of "shielding the children from political messaging." Indeed! We would not want their delicate child-brains exposed to poisonous ideas about turtle rights!
In case you stayed in the womb until age 40, Yertle the Turtle is a rhyming allegory about how you shouldn't squish other people for your own gain, and if you do then you deserve to fall in mud. And the disgusting piece of turtle propaganda that so offended Canadian sensibilities? This line: "I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here on the bottom, we too should have rights."
Right. We certainly shouldn't indoctrinate children into the idea that those on the "bottom" deserve rights. Let children make up their own minds about whether or not they want to be tiny dictators! Yeesh. I mean, this barely qualifies as political messaging—it's just basic human decency messaging.
To be fair, though, this being Canada, the school administrators are kind of adorably contrite about the silliness of the whole thing. (In America we would literally BAN TURTLES.) It's about context, they say:
And while he conceded Tuesday that it might seem absurd to spend time reviewing quotes from, among others, Dr. Seuss and former Canadian prime minister John Diefenbaker, Mr. Stigant said the review is necessary to protect students from an often-bitter dispute.
In the midst of a labour dispute between the British Columbia Teachers' Federation and the province, the quote was deemed unsuitable.
"I responded that in the context, it was borderline," Mr. Stigant said. "Contextually, it was political – but it was grey and I would prefer it didn't appear and I believe she agreed."
So it's not exactly as simple as administrators fearing a turtle-induced child-riot. (Boooooo.) But still, the idea that we need to "protect" kids from "messages" is bizarre. But hey, this is all great marketing for my new children's book! It's called Muffin, and it's just a picture of a muffin. It's a pretty big departure from my first book, Don't Shit in Other Kids' Lunchboxes, but that one got banned. Too political.