Twice in 2022 I wrote about banning books (here and here), but the recent hysteria over books that are being pushed by the LGBTQ community, and others, along with an FB post by a friend of mine brought the matter back to mind. As with so many issues these days, the left has taken a word and twisted it until they find a definition and use that suits their needs. Just as the government and its cronies created Newspeak in Orwell’s 1984, so the progressive left is creating their own version of newspeak. My friend walked into a Barnes and Noble to be faced with the display shown below. Now, yes, the signs under the books say “Challenged” which is indeed accurate. But notice the display sign – that says “Banned Books.” Whether this is a marketing ploy (likely), or not, someone at B&N is engaged in some serious misdirection and propagandizing.
As my friend said in her FB post:
“I went to buy a book at Barnes and Noble. There, smack dab at the door, is this giant display of “banned books.” Of course, they’re not really banned. They are just limited in the age levels exposed…ahem….to them. Let’s look at why Barnes and Noble is upset.
Gender Queer: “banned” because of sexual content.
All Boys Aren’t Blue: “banned” because of sexual content.
The Bluest Eye: “banned” because of sexual content.
The Handmaid’sTale: “banned” because of sexuality, suicide, anti-Christian themes
Lawn Boy: “banned” because of sexual content
Harry Potter: “banned” because of poor social values
James And The Giant Peach: “banned” because of witchcraft, sexual references
This Book is Gay: “banned” because of…oh just guess…
Again, none of the books were banned. Their appropriateness for certain age groups was challenged. And virtually every one was challenged over sex. Gotta wonder why school administrators would be surprised that parents who want their children to learn about math and not masturbation, about social studies and not social perversions, about history and not his/her/their pronouns, about trans Atlantic treaties and not Trans insanity, would question their literary choices.”
She’s exactly right.
Banning a book means making it impossible for anybody to purchase or read. It is an order by the government that under pain of sanctions, no bookstore may sell, no library may hold, and no citizen may own a copy of whatever book some totalitarian curmudgeon has decided is bad for society, morals, character, whatever. And, yes, that has happened in the past. The U.S. government, via regulatory bodies, and via Congress has attempted to ban different books at different times. The most recent actual, government imposed banning was a book, one book, in 2010 that was deemed to be releasing classified DoD material (the Wikipedia citation is here). And once the problematic information was redacted, the book was re-released. So, not banned. Other than that, which occurred thirteen years ago, the government has not banned any books.
Challenging a book is entirely different. What has happened recently is that various groups of parents and school boards have challenged the placement of certain books in school libraries claiming those books are not age-appropriate for the students at that school. For example, a few years ago, one of the supposed “bannings” happened with Maus, the Holocaust graphic novel. It does have some dark and graphic themes and illustrations that really aren’t suitable for five- to eleven-year-old children. There are other ways to introduce young kids to the history of the Holocaust. And indeed, in that particular case, the book was… wait for it… moved to the library at the high school. How is that banning a book? Please, enlighten me.
The challenges to all the books shown in the picture (including Harry Potter) came from parents who felt that there should be an age limit to such books. You may disagree and if that’s the case, then you are absolutely free to purchase (or borrow from the library) those challenged books and make them available to your kids. What you don’t have the right to do is require that all parents subscribe to your beliefs. When a school library doesn’t carry a book it’s usually because it’s not considered age-appropriate, or… get this… a majority of parents at that school have objected to its availability. Majority rules, right? And just in case you didn’t hear me, let me say it again for those in the back:
I’ll wrap up this short rant by providing some simple solutions to all this banning of books. If you object to the removal of a book from your child’s school library, then follow the example of Dolly Parton and buy copies of that book for every child in the school (just don’t be surprised if some parents refuse to accept your generous offer).
If you’re going to try to tell me that for some kids, the school library is the only place they can find books, then arrange for a regular shuttle between the school, or pick-up spot of your choice, to the local public library… give the kids a way to get to the library. You’re the one who objected, if it’s that important to you, find a freaking solution. But, yeah, it’s easier to post your outrage on FB and then go about your day.
If you’re going to try to argue that removing a book from the library of a public school is the government engaging in censorship, then I will ask you if it’s possible to buy or borrow that book elsewhere (see above for Dolly Parton and the library shuttle). I guaran-damn-tee you won’t be able to show me where it’s impossible and, more importantly, illegal to buy or own whichever book it is.
Believe me, I can go on all day. If you think these books are truly banned, then put down your half-caf soy mocha latte, do some research of your own, get off your butt, buy and distribute the book(s) in question, and quit whinging while trying to convince others that you are saving the world.
Once again… those books in Barnes and Noble HAVE NOT BEEN BANNED. Especially not since you can waltz in, grab any one of them off that display, swan your way over to the cash register, and self-righteously purchase it for all the world to see, knowing you will face no consequences whatsoever.
Now, speaking of banning or attempting to ban books… I think I’ll go looking for Jordan Peterson’s last book…
Go ahead and buy banned books.