Riga mayor orders checks on schoolbooks for bad language

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Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs has ordered the municipality's schools to scour the text of schoolbooks for swear words.

Usakovs on Wednesday charged the city's Education, Culture and Sports department to check what teaching materials are used in Riga schools and whether they comply with regulations of the Education Ministry.

His dictat is based on an incident in one Riga school when a teacher asked her class to analyze a poem by a well-known poet containing some bad language.

The incident caused protests by parents of one child which resulted in a reprimand for the teacher, who maintained that the disciplinary action against her constituted censorship and unjustified interference in her work.

“In literary expression poets can use any methods. But it does not mean that children can be asked to analyze any poetry," Usakovs said in a statement combining his job as mayor with that of literary critic.

However he did also admit to using fruity language himself on occasion - such as when he was caught using some extremely choice words during a council meeting when he thought microphones were switched off.

Nevertheless "the brutality of swear words has no place in the classroom," Usakovs maintained.

The statement did not say what would happen to any books containing words deemed inappropriate.

Later in the day, Usakovs announced he had requested a list of rude words from Education Minister Marita Seile.

The intervention comes hot on the heels of a Riga City Council decision removed posters from public places extolling the virtue of tolerance, apparently also on the grounds of protecting the public from undesirable language and thoughts. 

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