Yertle The Turtle Banned For Being 'Too Political'

The Huffington Post Canada  |  Posted: 04/25/2012 10:33 am Updated: 04/25/2012 10:37 am

Throughout history, books have been banned for various reasons -- for sex, for language, for racism and for viewpoints. In British Columbia this week, a quote from Dr. Seuss' Yertle The Turtle was on the receiving end of a boycott for a politically polarizing reason.

According to the Globe and Mail, an elementary school teacher in Prince Rupert was told she could not display the quote, "I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here on the bottom, we too should have rights” from the book in her classroom.

As Joanna Larson, president of the BCTF local in Prince Rupert noted on Twitter:

Joanna Larson
Teachers in PrinceRupert,BC could face discipline for displaying Dr.Suess quote.Management "must insulate students from political messages"

Teachers in PrinceRupert,BC could face discipline for displaying Dr.Suess quote.Management "must insulate students from political messages"

Dave Stigant, acting director of instruction for the Prince Rupert School District, stated the decision was based on the November, 2011 ban by an arbitrator on political messages in schools in the province, though the ongoing labour dispute between the teacher's union and the province played a role as well.

This isn't the first time a Dr. Seuss book has faced exile. In 1989, Laytonville, California, tried to ban The Lorax, based on its criminalization of foresting, one of the town's primary industries. While the objector -- the father of a student who came home from school with the book -- was eventually outvoted in his opinions, it did reveal the potential for controversy inherent in these children's books.

Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Geisel, started his career as a political cartoonist, and was vocal in his desire to educate children about politics. He once stated the character of Yertle was modelled after Hitler.

SEE: The most commonly banned books:

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  • The Great Gatsby

    Banned for language and sexuality, this novel was<a href="http://www.favorite-banned-books.com/the-great-gatsby.html" target="_hplink"> first challenged at a Baptist College in Charleston, South Carolina</a> in 1987.

  • To Kill A Mockingbird

    In 2009, "To Kill A Mockingbird" was pulled from a Brampton, Ont. grade 10 course after parents complained about the <a href="http://www.parentcentral.ca/parent/education/article/679811--complaint-prompts-school-to-kill-mockingbird" target="_hplink">"use of racial epithet in the book,"</a> according to ParentCentral.ca

  • The Catcher in the Rye

    "The Catcher in the Rye" was banned in several schools and libraries <a href="http://voices.yahoo.com/banned-book-catcher-rye-224799.html?cat=4" target="_hplink">because of sexual content and offensive language</a>, according to Yahoo News.

  • The Grapes Of Wrath

    This novel was temporarily banned in the United States for its portrayal of California residents.

  • The Color Purple

    "The Colour Purple" was removed from library shelves in a Virginia school in 1986 because of "profanity and sexual references." It was, however, made available to students over 18 with parental consent.

  • Ulysses

    This 900 page long-read was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/02/ulysses-banned-book_n_1250050.html#s658348&title=The_Handmaids_Tale" target="_hplink">banned in the United States and the United Kingdom for its explicit sexual content.</a>

  • Beloved

    After 10 years of being published, "Beloved" was banned English classes in a <a href="http://www.care2.com/causes/banned-books-toni-morrisons-beloved.html#ixzz1t3ndMm9H" target="_hplink">Kentucky high school because of references to bestiality, racism and sex. </a>

  • The Lord of the Flies

    This novel has been challenged and banned several times because of its <a href="http://classiclit.about.com/od/bannedliteratur1/tp/aa_bannedbooks.01.htm" target="_hplink">"excessive violence and bad language,"</a> according to About.com

  • 1984

    Between 1965 and 1982, this novel was <a href="http://world.edu/banned-books-awareness-1984/" target="_hplink">ranked fifth of the most challenged books</a> because of its "immoral and pro-Communist" content.

  • Lolita

    In 1958, <a href="http://www.bcla.bc.ca/ifc/Censorship BC/1950.html" target="_hplink">Lolita was placed on Canada Custom's list of banned books</a>. The ban however, was later lifted.