Burning books is simply wrong, no matter which side of the political aisle is lighting the flames. NPR rightly took a lot of heat for simply suggesting people “decolonize” their shelves of books written by White authors. Outraged conservative parents in Spotsylvania County, Virginia are just as barbaric, forcing their school board to bow down in the face of ignorant extortion.
Burning books won’t stop ideas
Instead of burning offensive LGBTQ oriented material and anal sex manuals written for fourth-graders, a little parental involvement in discussion with their offspring is in order. Tossing books on the fire doesn’t hide the information they contain, it gives people more incentive to seek it out in secret.
The real problem is that conservative parents, especially fundamentalist Christian ones, don’t like to face the truth about sex and their children, who are experimenting in the bushes and the basement, no matter what the oblivious parents think.
This author embraces far-right libertarianism and views book burning censorship of any variety as wrong. There are precocious youngsters, such as myself at that age, who are fully capable of not only reading much higher grade level material than their age would suggest, they comprehend it. That does not mean they will automatically put what they read into use. At least, when they do, they’re better prepared for it. Luckily, my parents recognized that.
When a public librarian, back around 1975, told my mom I couldn’t check out a book on hallucinogenic drugs and Native American sorcery by Carlos Castaneda, because I was only 12, my mom let the gate-keeping librarian have a big piece of her mind. The result was a special permission slip kept at the checkout desk, verifying I had permission to read any book I chose. My fans say that paid off in my career later. I didn’t experiment with either acid or sorcery. Well, not until college, and yes, I was much better prepared.
On Monday, November 8, the Spotsylvania County School Board bowed down to the extortion of narrow minded parents, ordering “school staff members to remove books that contain sexually explicit material from library shelves.”
Two board members were behind the move. Removing the offensive texts isn’t nearly enough for them. This dynamic duo needs to see flames shooting 10 feet in the air from a pile of burning books. Perhaps they should have read a sex manual or two when they were young. If they got a little action once in a while these days, they might not be so tense and uptight.
Throw the books on a fire
Next week they’re holding a special follow up meeting where “Spotsylvania County schools must report on the number of books that have been removed.” The decision came in unanimous at 6-0. If two of their members, Rabih Abuismail and Kirk Twigg, had it their way, they would have a good old-fashioned book burning.
“I think we should throw those books in a fire,” Abuismail suggested. Twigg agreed, but he wants to “see the books before we burn them so we can identify within our community that we are eradicating this bad stuff.” He just wants to get a good look at the porn for his own enjoyment before it goes up in flames. Mrs. Twigg hopes he does, he might learn something.
For support of the barbaric ignorance, the school board points to the position of the new Virginia Governor. He’s fully behind book burning, they suggest.
“After a September 23 Fairfax County School Board meeting, Youngkin’s campaign produced a political advertisement that included footage of community members at the meeting calling for the removal of books from high school libraries in the county.”
Having a public discussion about the material going on the shelves in the school library is totally appropriate. If parents are offended by a particular book, perhaps an alternative can be obtained which provides the same material in a more palatable format. Even if not, raw censorship is never the answer.
The best solution is for a parent to be involved with the reading choices their children are making. That way they can provide insight and guidance to fill in the gaps, level out slanted propaganda or answer confusing questions. When a child sees a book burning, it only makes getting copies of the toasted treasures more desirable, if only to see what the fuss was about.