Credit: Gript

Aodhán O’Riordáin: Yes, it’s time to ban “To kill a mockingbird”

“What simpering, shallow wokeness”, wrote one critic yesterday.  “Possibly the worse tweet ever sent by an Irish public representative.”

Can anyone, in good faith, disagree?

For those of you who don’t know, or who didn’t study it in school, “To Kill a Mockingbird” tells the story of a rape trial in the segregated, post-civil war, American south. The alleged perpetrator is a black man, the jurors are all white, and the story is told from the perspective of a young white girl, whose father is the defence lawyer. As the book unfolds, we learn that the real rapist was, in fact, someone else, and that the man on trial is being framed because of his race.

In other words, it is a book about the badness of racism. And because it is a book about racism, the main character sometimes hears, and sees, people saying and doing racist things. That’s kind of the point of the book.

But that’s not worth the hurt they’re causing, says Ireland’s dumbest politician.

There are two things to say to that.

The first is that if a book is causing you hurt, get over it. That message applies equally to adults, and children. If your child is upset by a book, the correct answer to them is firstly, that it’s only a book, and second, to explain what it’s about.

If a book hurts your feelings, that’s your problem. Every other child in the country shouldn’t have their education dictated by your feelings.

The second thing to say is that that there’s something really damaging about a culture where our response to things that upset us, or our children, is to just get rid of them. Particularly in schools.

Part of growing up is learning resilience. Coming to terms with the fact that life isn’t always fair, upsetting things happen, people aren’t always good, and that you have to just shrug it off, get over it, and keep going.

One of the things that’s very obvious, and underpins so-called cancel culture, is a lack of resilience from the young. JK Rowling disagrees with you? Burn her books. That statue was put up by people with different priorities to you? Tear it down.

Learning to live with things you dislike is very important.

Anyway, the good news is that the dopey Deputy got a good and well-deserved roasting yesterday, even from people usually aligned with him. Here’s Colette Browne:

And Ireland’s wokest restaurant critic:

And there were plenty more reactions like that.

The good news is that O’Riordáin’s idea is immensely unpopular. The bad news, of course, is that won’t necessarily matter if one or two civil servants in the Department of Education decide that he’s on to something.

It’s not popular now, but give it time. My guess is that To Kill a Mockingbird’s days are numbered. After all, if the statues had to come down, what is it, in principle, that protects the books?



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