Note: I have made it a point over the past politically divisive years in the US to not go political on this blog despite having opinions (don’t we all?!). However, books are my life–reading, devouring, writing, and blogging. I believe in the freedom of books and their writers. I take attacks on books personally, sometimes too personally. When we begin to ban books, we begin to ban liberty. This seems to be a political issue and the only one that will ever be discussed on this blog. Book freedom!
The Washington Post recently published an article entitled, “Schools Nationwide Are Quietly Removing Books From Their Libraries.” (Please, if you have the time, read this article.) Books have been removed from school libraries before someone can object. School librarians are no longer purchasing books that could be deemed “controversial” because they fear for their jobs and sometimes worse. People are trying to erase books that they deem controversial from school libraries. Books about race and tolerance, sexuality, and gender.
I once studied to be a librarian. I didn’t finish the degree. Just three more courses. But along the way I discovered something: librarians are some of the coolest people you’d ever want to meet. They are the true book ninjas. They will defend a book’s right to be and the reader’s right to read— to the end. In true Tom Petty form they won’t back down. They are magical unicorns and leprechauns. Librarians rock.
Personally, I’ve never understood the concept of book banning. If you don’t like a book, its ideas or philosophy, don’t read it, but don’t take away someone else’s option of reading it. What has come into play recently is the idea that kids should be isolated from books about sexuality, gender, race and more. Why? Are parents secretly afraid that their kids will suddenly be someone other than who they really are because they read a book? (Parents: are your teachings suddenly insubstantial?) My fear would be that kids are cut off from discovering who they might be because they are denied reading books about what they might be. If a child is facing a debate about their sexual orientation and the books that might help are swept away, where do they turn? Inwards? Angry? Hurt? Suicidal? And, yes, I do believe that fear leads this entire book banning world. We already know that fear breeds anger. Ignorance breeds fear and anger.
How disheartening is it that people claiming to be fighting for liberty are, instead, acting for tyranny? Some country singer dude compared librarians (not giving his name life here) to pedophiles and said that “We the people are the firewall between tyranny and freedom.” But by forcibly banning books aren’t you reinforcing tyranny? Isn’t freedom the ability to choose what to read? Shouldn’t parents be responsible for knowing what books are in their child’s hands? And, I’ve got to say it, what kind of ignorance compares a librarian ninja to a pedophile? Hmm?
In the 1930’s a contingent of Americans burned books in conjunction with Hitler’s burning of books because they saw something comparable in him. Thankfully that didn’t continue. Burning and banning of books manifest a closed society, a non-democratic society, a non-republic society. And, a fear of ideas.
This past Sunday, unfortunately aided by a couple of birthday/St. Paddy’s Day celebratory champagnes, I rolled my eyes at a woman who kept going on about pornography at the public library available to third graders. I didn’t ask too many questions, except: where were their parents? I felt bad about the whole eye rolling thing. But not about my opinion. Libraries are good. Parents who don’t track what their children are doing are not. And, no, I really doubt the public library had on display pornography because that’s just not the way things work at libraries. And, yep, still sorry about the whole eye-rolling thing.
Book banning is anti-democracy. Perhaps that’s where the United States of America is headed, however, unless people pay attention. ALWAYS PAY ATTENTION! Books, ideas, philosophy = liberty. Tyranny = close minds.
hearts and souls, folks. ❤️ Sascha