Ottawa doesn’t fully deserve its reputation as a prissy no-fun zone, but it’s never hard to find evidence to support the old stereotype.

Exhibit A this week was the ejection of Ottawa children’s author Kevin Bolger from a reading at Manor Park Public School.

Bolger, himself a teacher, is the author of Sir Fartsalot Hunts The Booger. If you know a nine-year-old, or have ever been one, then I don’t have to tell you kids widely consider this stuff comedy gold.

The slapstick and toilet funnies don’t preclude a vigorous vocabulary. When Bolger’s flatulent hero faces down an ogre with his trusty sword Lucille, he goes all Chaucerian on the foe:

“Come one step nearer, you vile unmentionable,” Sir Fartsalot warned, “and I shall brast your pate!”

“You’ll what?” the ogre scoffed, coming closer.

Sir Fartsalot wanged him in the head with Lucille.

“Oh,” said the ogre. “Riiiiiiight ...”

He plunked over on his face, out cold.

Bolger had toured other local schools, and he had been a hit, but when he read from his new book, Zombiekins, the Manor Park principal decided the name of one of his characters, Imavitch, sounded too much like “I’m a bitch,” and Bolger, 10 minutes into his reading, was outta there.

I have sympathy for the difficulties of the principal’s job, which includes always anticipating whether or not parents will freak out. But even if you’re overreacting on behalf of parents, you’re still overreacting.

I just returned from a visit to my hometown, where the high school held an assembly on tolerance for gay and lesbian students. The content of this assembly offended some parents, and so the school ended up sending out a baffling letter apologizing for anyone who was offended by the call for tolerance.

These absurdities abound in our schools, and they’re good preparation for the absurdities of life after graduation.

This spring, Heritage Minister James Moore went out of his way to express his disapproval of the provocative Pop Life exhibit at the National Gallery.

“I made my personal judgment already and I’m not interested in seeing the exhibition any more than I have already seen it,” he said.

Nobody is suggesting our minister for culture should be forcibly exposed to art, but perhaps he could at least, as chief advocate for our museums, avoid trashing it.

Official disapproval is at least reliably good publicity for artists and authors, so I hope the antics of our prudish principal and milquetoast minister end up encouraging people to see for themselves what the fuss is about.

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