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School District Bans Mormon-Dissing Book

Illustration for article titled School District Bans Mormon-Dissing Book

A Virginia school district has taken Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novel A Study In Scarlet off of reading lists. The reason: it's offensive to Mormons. The book includes the passage,

Nothing would ever induce him to allow his daughter to wed a Mormon. Such a marriage he regarded as no marriage at all, but as a shame and a disgrace.


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Here I go!

"A Study in Scarlet" was published in 1887. Just over ten years prior, the federal government had just finished prosecuting the last of the Mormons involved in the Mountain Meadows massacre which had taken place in 1857 (worth looking up if you're not familiar, but be forewarned that it ends badly for pretty much everybody). The newspapers at the time, just like today, sensationalized the event beyond all recognition, and the prevailing opinion in both the US and overseas was informed by that sensationalism.

I'm not at all saying it's right, but I am making a plea for some understanding of the historical context in which this story exists. I have no hope that any school board anywhere appreciates nuance or context, but it's nice to dream.