The Bard is Barred

Alas poor WilliamPolitical correctness has struck again, with yet another of William Shakespeare’s plays being banned in some U.S. schools. Twelfth Night has long been consigned to the naughty pile because of its ‘sexual suggestiveness’ (oo-er, missus!) and The Merchant of Venice because of its anti-Semitic character Shylock.

Now The Tempest is banned from schools in Tucson, Arizona according to a report in today’s The Australian newspaper.

Here’s a quote:

“The ban is part of a battle over Arizona’s treatment of its Mexican-immigrant population, and the extent to which cultural and racial differences should be examined in class.

The Tempest is studied in many US schools for its perceived insights into racism and colonialism. One of its protagonists is Caliban, a black slave on an island ruled by Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan.

Yet the play has fallen foul of conservative Arizonans disgusted that state schools offer classes in what they regard as increasingly radicalised Mexican-American studies.

Threatened with financial penalties if it failed to adopt a state ban on ethnic studies, the Tucson school district caved in to a two-year-old law prohibiting courses that “promote the overthrow of the United States government, promote resentment towards a race or class of people, are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group, or advocate ethnic solidarity”.

The law was primarily aimed at texts such as Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Occupied America, which critics complained were politically motivated manifestos aimed at turning Latino youths into anti-American activists.

Curtis Acosta, a teacher in Tucson, asked whether he could teach The Tempest instead.

He said: “I was told no, due to the themes that are present and (because) the likelihood of avoiding discussions of colonisation, enslavement and racism were remote.” “

Should historical pieces like the Tempest, which mirror the thoughts, laws and behaviour of their day, and should be read and understood in that context, be banned because there is a danger they will be discussed and even acted on in a modern context? Your thoughts?


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