Opinion: Mandatory reading

POSTED: 01/31/12 12:51 PM

Tonio is the title of a book written by the Dutch author A.F. Th. van der Heijden. The story is about his only son, whom he lost in a traffic accident. A Belgian judge sentenced a 30-year-old man to read the book as part of his sentence for irresponsible behavior on the road.
In July police caught the Belgian while he was driving his car at high speed around a roundabout, slipping continuously. The stunt remained without consequences for other road-users, but the court did not take kindly to the mad driver.
Author van der Heijden was enthusiast about the measure and told the Volkskrant that this ought to be applied all over the world. If a road hog comes to his senses by reading my book, I did not write it for nothing, he reasoned.
Sounds like a plan: we have a lot of young street punks who think they are invincible. They drive their (often stolen) scooters recklessly, making wheelies and wondering how on earth some of their friends don’t survive all this fun. For those empty-headed youngsters, Tonio seems recommended reading. They would learn some Dutch in the process as well, and that will boost their chances of landing a job with this language-requirement.
Now we’re looking for fitting titles that ought to be read by armed robbers and killers. Nothing comes to mind at the moment, but we’ll think of something.
Oh, maybe there is also something to be said for mandatory reading for people who are caught embezzling or taking kickbacks. The Construction Cesspit (De Bouwbeerput) by Joep Dohmen and Jos Verlaan is our number one pick for this category.

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