Banning Books in My Town

During a book club meeting a couple of months ago, one member—a respected, outspoken woman—mentioned in passing that one of our school librarians had received many complaints about a particular book. Another member countered that statement, by explaining that, as a librarian herself who was friends with the librarian in question, she knew that only one complaint had been received. The conversation ended there.

It started me thinking about how the loudest, but not necessarily most knowledgeable, person is usually heard most. That goes for almost everything, really. The squeaky wheel and all that.

If you don’t challenge your own and others’ assumptions, you’ll never know the truth. That’s not to say that you have to be contrary about everything (a good reminder for myself), but to think critically about everything you’re told is good practice. Don’t fire questions at the supermarket produce manager about how sure he is that the oranges actually came from the central region of Florida. Do question if it’s labeled organic and it looks like it’s not.

Back to loudmouths and book banning. I find it astounding that parents—well-intentioned parents—fight to decrease the amount of information their children have access to. Children who consume book voraciously rarely become degenerates or serial killers.

I don’t have data to back me up there. Just go with it.

I feel students should be allowed to read anything they can that’s appropriate developmentally. That’s the gray area and the common path for folks seeking to ban a book. They think it’s not “appropriate.” Well, it might not be appropriate for your little snowflake, but mine is fine, thank you very much, and I’d like my kids to have access to more information, not less. I’ll decide and take action if necessary. You can keep your book banning to yourself.

I was happy to discover that there have been no reported limitations in the past few years to our local libraries. But limitations can happen earlier on, in the decision not to carry a title or teach a book. Those are the easily hidden decisions that force us to be vigilant. Or they should.

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