Photo credit: Irish Labour Party via Flickr

Labour: Ban classic literature in schools, but not graphic sex tutorials

If you didn’t know better, and you heard the name of the “Labour” Party, most people would naturally assume that it has something to do with those who engage in “labour” – as in, the working class. And granted, that was the party’s historical niche and identity historically.

The party of true patriots like Connolly and Larkin, this was a group that was instrumental in opposing the 1913 Dublin Lockout. Love them or loath them, this was traditionally a group that stood up for the bread and butter concerns of less well-off blue-collar people, and sought to represent their interests politically. And, whether or not you agreed with every jot and tiddle of their policies, one could at least see that their goals were noble and well-intentioned. There was a point to the party’s existence – they knew who they were, and which section of society they wanted to speak on behalf of.

How fascinating, then, to see a once-respectable institution degenerate into a clownish soup of the most extreme, out-of-touch politics known to man; namely, attacking mainly-working class parents for opposing graphic sex tutorials in their children’s schools.

This was the interesting and bold electoral move made by Labour Party education spokesman Aodhán Ó Ríordáin this week, as he effectively implied to the Irish Mirror that those who oppose the book “This Book Is Gay” by Juno Dawson being present in schools is effectively just a fringe bigot.

To be clear, the book in question contains graphic anal and oral sex tutorials about “bumming” and how to give good “blowjobs,” endorsements of porngraphy use, advice about sexting, and more. Gript did a whole video going over excerpts from this sordid book, which can be seen below.

Up until last week, this book was included on the junior cycle reading list for children aged 12 and up. This naturally led to uproar from parents, and ultimately led to the government backing down and removing the book after a sustained pressure campaign.

And apparently, Dublin Bay North TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin took that personally:

“Labour’s Aodhán Ó Ríordáin told the Irish Mirror he feared the issue had been “jumped on” by people with an agenda.

He said: “This seems to be a contrived culture war initiated alarm by those with a particular worldview. It comes from the same stable as anti-choice, anti-immigrant, anti-transgender. They are now getting excited abut books with sex in them. I hope they also feel as strongly about books with war and violence and death in them.”

Now, that last point in particular is really a unique and special kind of stupidity. I’m not sure how many significant head injuries one would have to receive to think that was a good argument, but Ó Ríordáin has evidently exceeded the number.

Schoolbooks containing information about war and violence are in no way comparable to Juno Dawson’s book, because books about war and violence do not endorse war and violence – they inform students about the horrors of such conflicts. “This Book Is Gay,” on the other hand, explicitly endorses engaging in behaviours which are totally inappropriate for underage minors.

For example, Dawson’s book literally says, verbatim: “Porn is fine and fun.” I don’t know what school Aodhán went to, but I don’t remember any of my history books saying “War is fine and fun,” or “Killing is fine and fun.” When you read “The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas,” you don’t hear about how “Ethnic genocide is fine and fun.”

On the contrary, these nonfiction books and novels are cautionary tales to students about what an awful thing war is, and how society should stay vigilant to not repeat the mistakes of history. So for Aodhán to compare books about history, to 12-year-olds reading butt sex tutorials, is just further evidence that he has the intellectual capacity of an after-dinner mint.

However, we probably shouldn’t be surprised that Aodhán is unable to differentiate between discussing an issue and endorsing it. After all, this is the same man who advocated for classic literature like “To Kill A Mockingbird” and “Of Mice And Men” to be banned from schools because these books contain the n-word.

Of course, if he had read these books, he would know that “To Kill A Mockingbird” is a clear condemnation of racism.

The entire point of the novel is that it’s set in 1930’s Alabama, and a black man is falsely accused of rape and is almost lynched. The book is about the terrible ordeal black people in America had to go through in previous eras, and is a decidedly anti-prejudice book. The n-word is used in the text by villainous racists, to show how bad things were for African Americans at that time. So to say “This contains the n-word and ergo is offensive” is the reasoning of an actual imbecile.

Moreover, “Of Mice And Men” is a classic work of literature all about human nature, and is set in 1930s California during the Great Depression. Again, it contains the n-word only to make it realistic and to provide a window into an earlier time – at no point does it endorse racism, or say that using racial epithets is “fine and fun.” It is teaching children valuable lessons about history and the human condition.

“One wonders what James Connolly would think of his party wanting to ban classic literature like “To Kill a Mockingbird” from children’s schools, and replace it with graphic sex tutorials shown to minors.”

What an absolute farce.

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