Banning Books in Lanark County? The Editor and Stephen King’s Last Word

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The Almonte Gazette’s Editor’s Comment July 25 1995.. the initials were J. M. at the end– Was it Jeff Maguire? Almonte Gazette

How would you like to be a trustee on the Lanark County Board of Education (LCBE) these days? Considering the board’s track record in recent times it seems to us trustees-next deliberations might want to focus on which public relations (PR) firm to hire.

Because if there’s any organization which needs to improve its image any more we would love to know who. First of all a persistent citizen has succeeded in having the director of education’s quite remarkable contract made public, something the LCBE obviously tried to prevent. That turned into an embarrassing public issue.  Recently the LCBE partnership with three area municipalities fought to build an auditorium at Carleton Place High School, crashed and burned when Ramsay and Beckwith Townships declined to support it financially. Not a pretty picture considering how much time and money went into planning it.

Most recently, however, came the PR gaffe to top all PR gaffes. The board voted to keep a novella, Different Seasons, (a collection of four short stories), written by popular American author Stephen King, off of the study list at LCBE  High Schools. Two of those four short stories were later developed into extremely popular movies Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption. A story about this issue first appeared in The Gazette July 5. A week later the same story appeared in our sister newspaper The Carleton Place Canadian. Six days after it appeared in The Canadian, the Ottawa Citizen came out with a story on the ban (they at least read our papers)

Anyway, the same day it hit the front page of The Citizen the story aired on virtually every Ottawa area radio station. The same morning controversial Ottawa radio talk show host Lowell Green made the book the topic of his morning radio show and that evening the issue sparked a ‘Question of the Day’  on the popular Ottawa TV Station CJOH. Not to be outdone the Ottawa Sun newspaper, possibly a day late, took the issue one step further. They spoke to King directly at his home in Maine, eliciting his comments for the record. King told the Sun the ban angers him and  he called our trustees *“little despots”. Look it up folks, but the dictionary meaning of despot isn’t flattering.

Regardless the Sun’s story was filed with The Canadian Press and in turn caught the eye of editors at Canada’s largest newspaper The Toronto Star. Reaction to the ban has been negative. The book was originally suggested by an LCBE teacher as a possible replacement for some long standing books which may well have worn out their welcome. This is the 90s after all. Who is the board trying to protect with Such a move? Who, for instance, hasn’t been exposed to the ‘F’ word?

As far as Mr. King is concerned we think his “horror” atoanyone interested in the LCBE dectsion is mock. He should probably send out celebration or thank you notes. In one fell swoop our public school board may have improved the size of his residual cheques.

 

 

*Despots-An absolute or tyrannical ruler; autocrat or tyrant. Any person in power who acts tyrannically

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Almonte Gazette July 25 1995

 

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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