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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Would-Be Book Banners Are Feeling Their Oats

Depressing news--the adoption of new, more aggressive organizing tactics by people who want to censor books in schools and libraries.  In the words of an ALA spokesperson: “Traditionally, when books are challenged, it’s usually a single parent. But we have found that groups are organizing around the principle that professional librarians don’t have the expertise, that they’re pushing porn on our kids.”

Most of the new book banners focus on works that relate to sex (especially of the gay variety), although I was particularly appalled to read about efforts to ban Barbara Ehrenreich's important social-economic book Nickel and Dimed on the wholly spurious ground that it contains "anti-Christian themes."  I guess if you think Jesus would be a big fan of forcing poor women to work under degrading conditions for minimum wage in order to maximize the income of chain-store companies, then, yes, Nickel and Dimed could be considered anti-Christian . . .

One more thing.  The author of the linked article succumbs, unfortunately, to the widespread habit of throwing in a criticism of liberals, in an apparent attempt to make the article feel "balanced."  In this case,  he refers to Huckleberry Finn as "long a target of the left."  But this assertion turns out to be evidence-free.  Follow the link to the supposed source article and you discover that it describes the exclusion of Huck Finn from the library in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1885--more a matter of Victorian squeamishness about "coarseness" than any "left-wing" political objections.  The article goes on to mention subsequent bannings in Des Moines, Denver, Omaha, and Fairfax, Virginia--not exactly a list of liberal strongholds.

Let's get real about this.  The danger to intellectual freedom in America comes overwhelmingly from the right wing, not the left.  That's the truth, and saying so reflects honesty, not "liberal bias."

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