Main menu


Book bans are a sign of poverty in our community

featured image

Each year more books than are usually available are challenged by some group. The book will be removed and reviewed. Some are replaced, some are discarded. what happened? What should we make of these bizarre battles over books?

Tracking the growing number of contested items in libraries across America in recent years, the American Library Association calls what’s happening “unprecedented.” Here in Texas, Keller ISD, and other school districts, various books are being removed from shelves and classrooms to receive esoteric reviews. Llano County has been in a legal battle for months over which books should and should not be on shelves in public libraries. Llano County librarian Suzette Baker lost his job for refusing to remove certain books. “I told her boss it was censorship,” she said.

Unprecedented, perhaps. but why? These bizarre battles are clearly just skirmishes in our larger social conflicts. They belong specifically to the genre of contemporary disproportionate debates, seemingly irresolvable battles over racism, gender, sexuality, and more. And because we have lost the ability to collectively discuss. And because our media forums seem designed to perpetuate arguments by algorithms and interests rather than to resolve them, not only are our arguments largely illiterate, It has become impersonal.

And ridiculous. and a fool. At Keller, for example, they took the Bible off the shelf. I don’t think it’s a hot topic in high school libraries these days. Nevertheless, its removal and review is ridiculous and clearly meant to make a point. The point is that some of the removed books that are reviewed are deemed inappropriate or vulgar, while other texts are also deemed inappropriate or vulgar, and others value Even if it’s a text, he can have two players in that game. That’s the point. And that’s how quickly the nonsense takes over.

Responsible is the decline of literate citizens. That is why the library has become an ideological battlefield. Because it has become easier to ban than to read a book, and much easier than to discuss it with others. Because of this, our libraries, schools, and other public institutions are plagued by seemingly endless and increasingly stupid conflicts.

But it’s not just about right-wingers and radical agitators. But it certainly is a problem. Take, for example, the man who recently stabbed Salmon Rushdie. I hadn’t read the two pages of the book that probably infuriated him. Pointing out right-wing ideas and extremism is the conventional narrative for good reason, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

It is also a problem born out of a very real outrage to many ordinary parents who feel unheard or morally privileged because their parents are neglected or threatened.

For example, today’s parents cannot trust that children’s movies and TV shows, and even commercials, will not be smuggled into this, that, or other new trendy moral or immoral innovations. Whether they do or not, many parents resent the ruse. And now the same mistrust is spreading to classrooms and libraries. Parents, at least, want to navigate today’s tumultuous moral waters for and with their children. I don’t like

Now, of course, say what you want about this parental anger and mistrust. No matter how you look at it, it’s a reality. And this, too, is part of the decline of civic life and the loss of our collective trust.

That’s why citing old purist arguments reassessing free speech and the First Amendment doesn’t work. It’s also why enforcing sensible policies doesn’t work. Such rhetoric, such policies disguise power at best.

No, the former liberal moral instinct falls short. And that is because as long as our communities remain unhealthy and broken, so will our public institutions. . Not only is it surrounded by the radical right wing. It means that we have lost our community.

But what does this mean for our libraries? Libraries have always been select spaces. Intellectual journeys have always been guided. Pedagogy has always made distinctions and determined order. In science, art, theology, and religion, certain things are read and learned before others. Others properly belong to arcani in their own realm. It is useless for a person to read something all the time without guidance and preparation. In fact, it is often very harmful. But this presupposes community, trust. It also presupposes a coherent general description of the good.

For our librarians and teachers to be trusted again, as they should be, to be curators and guides in the intellectual journeys our children undertake, we must work to achieve this. The only way out of this nonsense is to regain and trust the original mission of librarians and teachers. But we can’t do that without regaining our collective grasp of common ground.

are we up to it? Will our screens allow us? I honestly don’t know.

Joshua J. Whitfield is Pastoral Administrator of St. Rita Catholic Community in Dallas and a frequent contributor to the Dallas Morning News.

This column is part of an ongoing opinion commentary on faith. live our faithSign up for . to find the reader’s question of the week and get a weekly roundup of the project in your email inbox. Living Our Faith Newsletter.

We welcome your thoughts in a letter to the editor.guidelines and Submit your letter here.