A select few individuals in the United States are controlling what is permitted to be read and learned in public schools by pushing an agenda of fear and anger. Some even have no legitimate claim to becoming involved in such legislation as they have no children in the system and, in some cases, have never had any children in the public school system. They simply want their opinions and philosophies to become the law of the land in as much as they have the power to make it happen. To what end, we can but guess. Through an agenda based on instilling fear, they are forcing teachers to conform. This Big Brother atmosphere has resulted in large numbers of teachers quitting; many of those positions wait to be filled. But who would want to teach under such restricting and harmful conditions?
American author Dave Eggers was recently informed that his novel The Circle, a dystopian book published in 2013 was going to be pulled from high school reading lists in Rapid City, SD. In response, he visited Rapid City to investigate the details. His article appears today in The Washington Post.
The principals and school board did not back down. In fact, at a May 3, 2022, school board meeting, plans were presented to destroy the 350 copies of the five books in question.The Washington Post
While it may not be book burning, destroying books achieves the same end. $70,000 worth of books destroyed by individuals who were afraid of the ideas, who evidently do not believe in the constitutional right to free speech. This, of course, is not to mention the fact that $70,000 in a state that is certainly not among the wealthiest is an egregious waste.
“This is a country founded on freedom of thought and intellectual freedom for all,” says author Dave Eggers, whose book, “The Circle,” is on the list to be destroyed. “As we’re standing 25 minutes from Mount Rushmore, those four heads carved out of stone would be weeping knowing that books were being not only pulled from shelves – depriving young adults – but being destroyed.”South Dakota News
If the majority of Americans believe that books and therefore ideas should not be banned how is it allowed to happen? Apathy. After a recent Supreme Court ruling, which I certainly should not need to detail, response among some was: why vote if this is what happens? The fact is that most Americans don’t bother voting unless it’s a presidential election. They have little idea of who their senators are and probably less idea of who their congressman is. It’s here, basically, that decisions are made and if one doesn’t actively investigate and vote for individuals who mirror their philosophies, one is allowing other forces and interests to subjugate them. Citizens must be active. Period.
I am a book blogger for many reasons. One is because I believe in the power of books. There are books I choose not to read and that is my right. What is not my right is to decide that those books should not be read by others. This is called FREEDOM. We have the ability to read or not read as we see fit. We can choose not to read a book. We should not have the ability to tell others what they can and cannot read. And, even more problematically, we certainly shouldn’t be dictating a reading agenda if we personally have not read the books in question. Not that it is okay, even if they have managed to read the book.
Ironically, in South Dakota, the age of sexual consent is 16. The age of high school seniors is 17 or 18. So, at 16 they’re allowed to have sex, they just can’t read about it.
From the American Library Association:
The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label “controversial” views, to distribute lists of “objectionable” books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.The Freedom to Read Statement