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Oh, Everywhere

Written by Executive Director Ed Southern

Less than 48 hours after Deonna blogged about book bans in her home state of Florida, I came across this article in the Charlotte Observer about book bans in my beloved home state of North Carolina.

Pulling and presenting quotes without context is an irresponsible practice . . . but I’m feeling reckless today:

Over the past two years, people have brought at least 189 book challenges across this state’s 115 public school districts, journalists from nine North Carolina newsrooms learned by surveying the districts.

. . . In North Carolina, it’s a small but vocal group that drives the bulk of challenges. Nearly 90% of challenged titles counted in the survey came from just four people.

Those last numbers—90%, four people—should not comfort you, or lull you into thinking that nice, moderate North Carolina is safe from the cowards, charlatans, and zealots who seek to ban books.

And yes, I’m biased, but less so as a writer than as a parent. How dare these fanatics try to dictate what my child can read, can learn, can think? Why should my child’s reading options, and my rights as a parent, be defined by groups like “Moms for Liberty”—who, between their name and their every public statement, prove how desperately they need to read more books, starting with a good dictionary?

Of course some books are inappropriate for my seven-year-old. How do I protect her from those? By parenting—by talking with her, by reading to her and letting her read to me, by asking her questions about what she has read, by letting her know she can ask me any question she might have, by letting her know that she can ask any question without fearing my reaction.

(OK, maybe not ‘any’ question: Her fifth variation on ‘Why can’t I stay up late/eat ice cream for dinner/insert no-no here’ probably won’t end well for her.)

I certainly don’t try to “protect” her by seeking to violate both the First Amendment and her right to grow and learn and think. That protects her from nothing. That puts her in far greater danger.

That puts us all in great danger.