comScore Sherlock Holmes Story Removed From Curriculum | The Mary Sue
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Sherlock Holmes Book A Study in Scarlet Banned For “Anti-Mormon” Sentiment

No. No no no no no no no. no.

Yaaaay, more book banning. Wait. No. Booooo, more book banning. Or, if not banning, per se, more unnecessary removal of classic literature from school curriculums. A few weeks ago we told you about a school’s decision to remove Kurt Vonnegut‘s Slaughterhouse-Five from the curriculum. Now, Albemarle County School Board in Virginia has removed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s classic Sherlock Holmes mystery novel A Study in Scarlet from the sixth grade reading list, where it was used for years as an introduction for kids into the mystery genre. The reason behind the removal? It was deemed offensive to Mormonism.

The book will no longer be used on Albemarle’s curriculum, the cited reason being that the portrayal of religion in the novel is unsuitable for the sixth grade age group. Parent Betty Stevenson had a bit to say about the removal:

A Study in Scarlet has been used to introduce students to the mystery genre and into the character of Sherlock Holmes. This is our young students’ first inaccurate introduction to an American religion.

A Study in Scarlet has drawn fire for its depiction of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who in the story take part in kidnapping, murder, and enslavement. Conan Doyle commented on the very topic himself:

All I said about the Danite Band and the murders is historical so I cannot withdraw that, though it is likely that in a work of fiction it is stated more luridly than in a work of history. It’s best to let the matter rest.

Then again, his daughter said this:

You know, father would be the first to admit that his first Sherlock Holmes novel was full of errors about the Mormons.

It is also said that Conan Doyle apologized for his depiction of the Church later in his life, saying that he had been misled by writing of the time.

Wherever you land on that particular debate, however, it’s hard to deny the iconic status Sherlock Holmes has acquired, and A Study in Scarlet is the very first novel in which he appears.

Sherlock Holmes in particular is an interesting choice of series to ban a book from, as childrens’ exposure to the stories is almost impossible given how widespread the characters and the series’ tropes have become. Even if they haven’t already seen the Robert Downey Jr.-starring movie adaptation and don’t plan on seeing the sequel, and even if they haven’t seen the BBC mini-series, practically every mystery show on TV has something to thank Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for. Plus, there are childrens’ classic movies like The Great Mouse Detective, and I know I have at least one friend who was swayed into Sherlock-mania upon viewing that as a child.

So we have faith that kids will gain access to these stories despite the efforts of the school board to limit exposure to it; we’re just sad that so many more of these stories keep popping up in our news feed.

(via Digital Spy)

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