School In Massachusetts Bans Homer's Odyssey On Grounds Of Sexism, Racism And Violence

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School In Massachusetts Bans Homer's Odyssey On Grounds Of Sexism, Racism And Violence

Photo: Left, Shea Martin, teacher who campained for the ban of the literary classic, The Odyssey; Right, Vase showing Odysseus steeling himself against the Sirens.

There has been uproar after a school in Massachusetts banned the Greek classic 'The Odyssey' on the grounds of violence, sexism and racism. The ban is believed to stem from a twitter campaign going under the hashtag #DisruptTexts, a small campaign that seeks to undermine texts that promote discriminatory ideology.

The Odyssey follows Odysseus, a warrior lost at sea for 20 years during the Trojan wars who must make his way back home to the island of Ithaca and his wife, Penelope who is being pursued by other suitors. Thankfully, he manages to make it back just in time after overcoming a huge number of hurdles, obstacles and quests. The book is widely regarded as the first real novel of Western civilisation and one of the most important texts of world literature.

Shea Martin, a campaigner who runs the website LoveliteraTea, was one of those who called for the Odyssey to be banned, saying:

"Be like Odysseus and embrace the long haul to liberation (and then take the Odyssey out of your curriculum because it's trash)."

Martin describes herself as a:

"Queer, Black teacher, researcher, and organizer who dreams and works toward liberation with teachers and students across the country."

It should be remembered that the banning of The Odyssey applies to one single school, though it does come after many other books have been banned from schools in recent years on grounds of inappropriateness. These classic books include The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, The Great Gatsby, James Joyce's Ulysses (named in homage to The Odyssey), and even To Kill A Mockingbird, a tale of racism in the southern United States. In most cases, these books have been banned due to the offensive language contained within them, in particular the n-word racial slur.

Commenting on the debate 'over banned books', writer Jon Del Arroz wrote in an opinion piece that these book must be taught in context and that simply because something is inappropriate does not mean that we endorse it simply by reading it or teaching it, they wrote:

"Deleting the history of major projects only limits children's ability to be properly educated. If there is anything wrong with classical literature, it stems from its non-teaching. Students who do not have the right to read fundamental texts can imagine themselves lucky… this is what people who support the #DisruptTexts campaign want — but compared to their better educated peers, they will suffer from language poverty and a scarcity of cultural references. Worst of all, they don't even know it."

It is not thought that any other school in the United States plans to ban The Odyssey from their libraries or their curriculum.

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Thinking Humanity: School In Massachusetts Bans Homer's Odyssey On Grounds Of Sexism, Racism And Violence
School In Massachusetts Bans Homer's Odyssey On Grounds Of Sexism, Racism And Violence
There has been uproar after a school in Massachusetts banned the Greek classic 'The Odyssey' on the grounds of violence, sexism and racism. The ban is
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