I reported briefly in my last Weekend Wrap-up about the New Hampshire parents who have successfully made a big enough noise to have two books banned from their local high school’s curriculum. Those of you who know me are aware of how incensed I get over every report of book challenging/book banning that I hear. Yesterday, I ran across an article from one of my favorite bloggers: The Annoyed Librarian, who blogs at The Library Journal’s official website. If you don’t subscribe to The Annoyed Librarian already, you really should take a look and consider it. Anyway, in a much more exhaustive (and even snarkier) piece than I wrote, he/she elaborates on the whole incident in an article called “Live Free or Die?” Check it out.
According to the ALA, parents are by far the most frequent initiators of book challenges. Here is a copy of their breakdown:
Challenges by initiator
On one hand, I get it. I really do. Parents want to do right by their children and protect them from ideas and issues that they feel may be harmful in some way. Parents know their own children better than anyone and have the firmest grasp on what their kids are mature enough to handle. They also know what values they want to instill in them. And every parent has every right to take an active role in what their child is taught. BUT… and this is a huge BUT: the moment any parent decides to extend their sphere of editorial influence outside of their own homes and place restrictions on what other people’s children or their community-at-large can read, that parent immediately stops being “a careful and involved parent” and starts being the moral equivalent of a torch-wielding, book-burning Nazi. Harsh words? Yes. But how DARE any individual presume that their own values and views be imposed on every single person in their school, community, world-at-large. This sort of behavior is beyond obnoxious – it is the worst of double standards.
These parents want to protect and exercise their own right to make decisions for their own children; but at the same time, they eagerly seek too stomp all over the rights of everyone else to make those same decisions for themselves and their families. It is wrong. It is immoral. And it shocking to me that anyone EVER gives these people an audience. I’m not sure which is worse – the parents who are arrogant enough to think that they know what’s best for EVERYONE or the administrations that actually capitulate to them – and in so doing, surrender the rights of all other students and families that they serve.
Please be vigilant, readers. This sort of behavior, sadly, is not limited to the ‘burbs in New Hampshire. It happens periodically all over the country. If it happens near you, I hope that you will speak out against the would-be book banners in your community. At the very least, report it to the ALA so that they can fight it. Then let me know about it. Most of the administrations that cave in to these challenges are trying to avoid bad press. We’ll show ‘em what bad press REALLY is.
Read more about book challenges at The American Library Association’s website.