Is there a child around who doesn’t know green eggs are an especially delicious with ham, whether they’re eaten in a boat or in a house, with a goat or with a mouse?
Dr. Seuss books, a staple of childhood, have incited recent scrutiny for their apparent political undertones. The Prince Rupert School District in British Columbia, Canada is alleging that a certain Dr. Seuss quote is unfit for children due to its vaguely disguised political messaging meant to promote unrest and incite rebellion.
The quote in question comes from the story “Yertle the Turtle” about a turtle, Yertle, who is the king of the pond and stands on other turtle’s backs in an attempt to reach higher than the moon. The story reads, “I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here on the bottom, we too should have rights.” The turtle on the bottom says, “I’ve pain in my back, my shoulders and knees — how long must we stand here, your majesty please.” The lowest turtle then burps and Yertle falls into the mud, ending his rule.
The teacher that has spurred the controversy did not use the quote from “Yertle the Turtle” in the classroom, but brought it to a meeting with school management when she received a notice about the visible union material in her car, which is a no-no on school property.
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The school was not amused by the teacher’s use of the quote, and has barred use of it in the classroom, whether it is displayed or worn on clothing. Dave Stigant, acting director of instruction for the B.C. school district, said that it was necessary to review the Dr. Seuss quotes to shield children from political messaging. “It’s a matter of legality and living up to our obligation to children and their families,” Mr. Stigant said.
The fiasco has exacerbated an already existing problem between the school and the teachers of the Prince Rupert School District, who are currently embroiled in a labor dispute.
It isn’t only the school that has accused Seuss’s stories of not being the innocent fables they purport to be, but vessels of liberal-leaning indoctrination aimed at children. Just recently, Lou Dobbs of Fox Business called the film adaptation of Seuss’s “The Lorax” a product of “the President’s liberal friends in Hollywood…using animation to sell their agenda to children.” The story features the Lorax, a creature speaking for the trees about the dangers of industrialization to forests. Dobbs accused the story of “espousing green energy policy.” Conservative radio host Matt Patrick said he suspected the story could create “occu-toddlers.”
The New York Times recently wrote about Dr. Seuss in an article titled, “The Children’s Authors Who broke The Rules.” The article cites not only his “stylistic eccentricities,” but also that his stories challenged the idea of what children’s books should be. Seuss rejected the idea that children's stories should only be about modeling good behavior and even called himself "subversive as hell." If that subversiveness is still pushing the envelope in 2012, one would think Seuss would be mighty proud.
TODAY.com contributor Jillian Eugenios likes to eat green eggs with ham on a log or on a mat, with a dog or with a cat.
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