The Futility of Banning Books
“Armed Idaho locals show up to library board meetings to push ban of over 400 books” is the headline. Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee have passed or are in the process of passing laws to ban certain books from school libraries.
Curriculum is developed by each state and adopted by local school boards. Teachers teach what is in the curriculum adopted by their local school boards.
Libraries are a resource for information, literature and ideas. No one forces someone to go into a library and take out a book and read it. Libraries provide a service for all the people in a community.
Small groups of very vocal people are now trying to censor access to resources and information for the rest of us by showing up armed and threatening school boards and library boards. The current parent objections to certain books are trying to override local school board oversight of the state curriculum and free speech in local public libraries.
As an Earth Science teacher I experienced firsthand the conflicts that arise when teaching science curriculum. Evolution, climate change, energy resources and many other topics were lightning rods for a small group of parents to report me to the principal. The complaint was always that the topics were against their religious beliefs.
I was lucky. I had an administration that always backed science and believed in the state curriculum. The result was that together we explained to the parents that their child did not have to “believe” the science, they just had to “understand” the science.
The top banned books include:
- “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury
- “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
- “1984” by George Orwell
- “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck
Many of these are the books that I read during the 1970’s in my high school literature classes. They are classic American Literature which have been read by millions of American students for over 50 years! These works are not “suddenly” being introduced to push “woke” ideas or sexual deviancy.
Attacking school boards and library boards in an effort to censor ideas by banning books is futile. We are in the age of information. Banning movies, tv shows or books is impossible. Even if a parent tries to shield their child from information it is all around us through social media and the Internet.
I watched parents try and ban students from the Internet, the news, books and social media. My experience was that students never have a problem accessing whatever information their parents banned. Students found it a challenge to see for themselves what their parents objected to. There is always a friend with a cell phone and Internet access that is willing to let them see what they are missing.
Taking the time to talk to your child about their experiences, ideas and questions is a much better way to protect them. When kids do not feel free to talk to their parents they feel forced to hide where they are getting their information from.
Freedom of ideas, freedom of thought and freedom of speech are an inherent part of being American. Freedom to read books from a variety of sources with a variety of ideas is a part of the culture of America.
I resent people trying to take my culture away from me and will make sure I am aware of who I am voting for on the local school boards and library boards this November.