By day – Too late to ban books – children have cell phones

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Across the country, parents and activists have turned their attention to the latest bogeyman of the school culture wars. And the target of their anger seems familiar: the books.

It’s true. In an era when students consume all kinds of media, from podcasts and video games to streaming movies, the Conservatives have compiled a list of 850 books that they deem objectionable.

On the list, there is everything from a graphic novel reboot of Shirley Jackson’s new classic “The Lottery” to contemporary headlines on LGBTQ issues, student legal rights, and teen sex.

Texas State Representative Matt Krause emailed the list to his state superintendents, presumably to paint their library shelves for them. Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott says school libraries are full of “pornography” and has called for an investigation.

Parental and political discussions about what students read are as old as public education. Censorship attempts are such an American tradition, in fact, that many libraries hold a “Forbidden Book Week” featuring targeted titles.

Consider the books that were “banned in Boston,” which, thanks to its Puritan origins, have been the barometer of censorship for centuries. The list reads like the syllabus for an academic literature course: “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman; DH Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”; Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”; and “Desire under the Elms” by Eugene O’Neill, New London.

Politicians like Krause and Abbott seem determined to protect innocent eyes from dirty content. Part of what they oppose is sexual; other titles have to do with race or politics.

Of course, the irony of this is that advocating parents see books as the enemy. These same parents have likely bought cell phones for their children, which allows their teens to watch actual pornography.

The idea of ​​children bringing books into the home because of forbidden language is as archaic as the Puritan foundations of the censorship movement.

Maybe their parents and grandparents remember the scorching passages from Kathleen Winsor’s “Forever Amber” or Judy Blume’s young adult novel “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret”. In the 20th century, many tweens and teens learned about sex and reproduction from novels.

But today’s teens are watching R-rated movies on their laptops – or worse. Nor are they naive about politics, race, or gender, and attempts to curate what they read only serve to give them a one-sided view of the world.

Whenever the people in power try to control what the masses know, we all suffer. We don’t need to look any further than classic novels like “1984” by George Orwell and “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury to imagine a society where knowledge is forbidden.

It’s scary, in fact, to revisit the 850 list, where words like “racism”, “abortion”, “Roe v. Wade, ”“ gay and lesbian rights ”and“ birth control ”appear in headlines over and over. Read in the context of Texas’ new anti-abortion law, it’s as if the powers that be wanted to erase any past knowledge of Roe v. Wade, civil rights and feminism.

How much easier to control future voters when they ignore their rights.

Some parents fall under the spell of these declarations which fall from the sky and become a tool of the powerful. But before embarking on a censorship frenzy, they might want to consider what their kids have already seen on their phone screen.

Fortunately, educators are unwavering in their protection of the right to read. While the police form a thin blue line between chaos and order, teachers and librarians must stand between ignorance and knowledge.

If we allow politicians to restrict understanding of our children’s history, their bodies and their rights, we are no better than Bradbury’s sci-fi book burners.

The Day’s Editorial Board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and meets weekly to formulate editorial perspectives. It is made up of President and Editor Tim Dwyer, Editor-in-Chief Izaskun E. Larrañeta, Editor Erica Moser and the retired Associate Editor. Lisa McGinley. However, only the editor and the editor of the editorial page are responsible for the preparation of editorial notices. The board operates independently of the Day newsroom.


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