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Literature, Poetry, and Books

Celebrating Censorship . . . of Parents

Friday's edition of The Wall Street Journal featured a piece from my friend, Mitch Muncy, covering the strange ironies surrounding the American Library Association's celebration of "Banned Books Week."  As Muncy notes, the ALA and its affiliated co-sponsors seem "more interested in confrontation than celebration."  That is to say, there is precious little celebration of banned material . . . probably for the reason that there is precious little material that actually has been banned.  Instead, "Banned Books Week" appears to amount to a screed against the forces of "intolerance" who dare to voice contrary opinions about the fitness of particular books and other reading materials for use by their children

As Muncy argues, "The ALA's members have immeasurably more power than the 'censors' they denounce to decide what books are available in our communities, but this power is so familiar it's invisible. Why do parents' public petitions constitute censorship, while librarians' hidden verdicts do not?"  The answer to this sensible question, clearly, is that the ALA and those with similar sympathies, do not believe that parents are wise enough to know what is best for their own children.  The supposition is that too many parents mean to cloister their children and indoctrinate them in ways of thinking that appear--to members of the ALA, at any rate--to be small-minded, bigoted, and sub-rational.  Once again, the so-called experts and champions of tolerance trump freedom and stifle dissent.  No doubt there are some wildly idiotic parents out there who stubbornly persist in subjecting their children only to one very limited point of view.  But it's also pretty clear from surveying the vast number of manufactured controversies that constitute the substance of "Banned Books Week" that a surprising number of them happen to be ALA members!

Discussions - 1 Comment

Being against censorship as a principle in K-12 education or for children is hardly a tenable position. We censor things all the time. For example, we don't put KKK white supremacist literature or pornography in the library. Heck, my wife censors what I watch on TV, and we certainly censor what our young children are reading. We wouldn't be responsible parents if we didn't. And, we will continue to guide their reading and approve of certain books until they go to college within the reasonable boundaries we have set. I know that there are certain parents and communities who are small-minded and unreasonable in some of the things they censor, but that is their right. You do have a right to be close-minded and live and teach according to your values. Moreover, an interesting development over the last 20 years was the left-leaning censorship of classic books with the N-word. Interesting spin.

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