Sherlock Holmes knocked off a school reading list

The Sherlock Holmes novel, "A Study in Scarlet," has been taken off the sixth-grade reading list in a Virginia high school.

By , Monitor contributor

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    Sherlock Holmes has reached new levels of scandal.
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Apparently Sherlock Holmes has become scandalous. (Sherlock himself would approve, I'm sure).

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's book, "A Study in Scarlet," featuring none other than Sherlock Holmes, has just been bounced from the sixth-grade reading list of a Virginia Albermarle middle school, according to USA Today.

Although some of the Sherlock Holmes books had hints of scandal (Sherlock frequently used cocaine to, ahem, stimulate his thinking process), that's not why this particular book was banned.

Recommended: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: 10 quotes on his birthday

A Virginia parent believes that "A Study in Scarlet" casts a negative light on the Mormon religion and she worries that it will prejudice the children that read it, says the LA Times blog.

The LA Times believes that the passage in question is this one: "[John Ferrier] had always determined, deep down in his resolute heart, that nothing would ever induce him to allow his daughter to wed a Mormon. Such marriage he regarded as no marriage at all, but as a shame and a disgrace. Whatever he might think of the Mormon doctrines, upon that one point he was inflexible. He had to seal his mouth on the subject, however, for to express an unorthodox opinion was a dangerous matter in those days in the Land of the Saints."

Of all the potentially offensive things in Sir Conan Doyle's books, this seems to be on the milder end of the scale. However, the school board agreed with the offended parent and removed the book from the sixth-grade reading list, although it will still be available for high school students to read says The Daily Progress.

To be fair, the parent in question does not have a Holmes vendetta. She suggested "The Hound of the Baskervilles" as an alternative introduction to the mystery genre according to USA Today.

So "A Study in Scarlet" joins other classics on banned-book lists around the country, including "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Catcher in the Rye," and "Grapes of Wrath."

It also leaves this reader wondering: What's next? "Nancy Drew?"

Megan Wasson is a Monitor contributor.

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