You Can’t Read That! is a periodic post about book banning. YCRT! features news and opinion roundups, commentary, history, and reviews.
YCRT! News & Opinion Roundup
Record Number of Demands Made to Ban or Censor Books in 2022 (ABC News)
"Overwhelmingly, we're seeing these challenges come from organized censorship groups that target local library board meetings to demand removal of a long list of books they share on social media," said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom. "Their aim is to suppress the voices of those traditionally excluded from our nation's conversations, such as people in the LGBTQIA+ community or people of color," Caldwell-Stone said.
YCRT! comment: note that the ALA official is talking about public libraries, not school libraries. And on that subject ...
Bay Area School District’s Book Ban Discussion Devolves into Rancid Mess (SFGate)
Resident Mike Arata claimed that a well-known journal read by school librarians is "an echo chamber for twisted librarians drawn themselves to porn like flies to dog poop."
Did Tennessee Republicans Ban Seahorse Book Because It 'Normalized Gender Fluidity'? (Snopes)
Complainants stated during the hearing that there is "social conditioning" in the book, that there are concerns about the book and video "attempting to normalize that males can get pregnant" and the "suggestion that gender is fluid is too early" to be taught in first grade. It was stated that the book paired with the video is "indicative of an agenda."
The Real Reason North Dakota Is Going After Books and Librarians (New York Times)
When I was a young person, libraries were where I went to find stories that made me feel I could fit in, not only in North Dakota, but in the wider world. But two pieces of legislation that may soon be signed into law in North Dakota would make it possible to restrict libraries and, in some cases, to imprison librarians.
‘Offensive’ Books That Have Been Rewritten (The Week)
After reviewing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, editors altered the description of Augustus Gloop to "enormous" instead of "enormously fat." In the new edition of Witches, a supernatural female posing as an ordinary woman may be working as a "top scientist or running a business" instead of as a "cashier in a supermarket or typing letters for a businessman." News of the changes sparked criticism from free speech advocates, some politicians, and notable authors like Salman Rushdie. "Roald Dahl was no angel but this is absurd censorship," Rushdie wrote on Twitter. "Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed."
Illinois House Passes Bill Prohibiting Book Bans (WGEM, Quincy IL)
“Banning books is the sort of behavior that was once, for good reason, associated with the worst, most repressive and repugnant authoritarian regimes of the mid-20th century and before,” the bill’s lead sponsor Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, D-Naperville, said during debate on the House floor. “The fact that this is even up for discussion in America in the 21st century is disgusting. And yet, just last year in my district, that discussion was spurred on by a few radical parents and the Proud Boys hate group over a book called ‘Gender Queer.’”
Hendersonville Library Director Voted Out after Kirk Cameron Author Event (NewsChannel5, Nashville TN)
Morales lost his job because of viral accusations by actor and author Kirk Cameron, former swimmer Riley Gaines and "Duck Dynasty" personality Missy Robertson. Cameron held a children's reading event last month at the Hendersonville Library and publicly accused them of giving him and the other celebrity guests pushback.
YCRT! comment: What NewsChannel5 doesn't report is that the Kirk Cameron event was far from a mere book reading for children. It was a staged right-wing Christian nationalist event, a Tea Party MAGA rally forced upon the library.
Michigan Prosecutor Mulls Charging Lapeer Library over LGBTQ Book (Bridge Michigan)
Miller cited the specific criminal code — 750.145a — he believed the book’s presence in a public library could violate. The law is often associated with police sting operations of adults who prey on minors, barring enticing anyone under 16 "to commit an immoral act, to submit to an act of sexual intercourse or an act of gross indecency or to any other act of depravity or delinquency.”
Ibram X. Kendi Says a Backlash Has ‘Crushed’ the Nation’s Racial Reckoning. But There’s One Reason He Remains Hopeful (CNN)
Then came a backlash. Kendi’s books were banned by some school libraries and he was accused by conservatives of corrupting children and offering a grim view of America that casts everyone as a racist. He also became the central villain in a GOP-led campaign to purge the teaching of systemic racism in American public schools. The campaign took off following the massive wave of racial protests that swept across the country in the wake of Floyd’s death, which drew the support of many White people, including students.
YCRT! comment: I increasingly believe organized GOP-led opposition to critical race theory, the teaching of books by authors like Kendi and Coates, the 1619 Project, and indeed public education in general, is fear that educated white adults will come around to the idea of reparations.
Plot Twist: Activists Skirt Book Bans with Guerrilla Giveaways and Pop-up Libraries (NPR)
It was much busier than usual on a recent Friday at a Ben & Jerry's in Melbourne, Fla. But it wasn't the Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey drawing the extra customers. A crowd gathered in the back corner of the store, browsing through newly installed, rainbow-colored shelves displaying multiple copies of some 65 books currently banned from various Florida schools. It was opening night for the shop's "Banned Book Nook," and customers with ice cream cones in one hand helped themselves to novels, memoirs and biographies with the other.
100 Year Old Lady At Florida School Board Better Patriot Than All Book Banners Put Together (Wonkette)
"Good afternoon folks. I am Grace Lynn. I am a hundred years young. I'm here to protest our school district's book-banning policy. My husband Robert Nichol was killed in action in World War II, at a very young age, he was only 26, defending our democracy, Constitution, and freedoms.One of the freedoms that the Nazis crushed was the freedom to read the books they banned. They stopped the free press, banned and burned books. The freedom to read, which is protected by the First Amendment, is our essential right and duty of our democracy. Even so, it is continually under attack by both the public and private groups who think they hold the truth."
YCRT! Arizona Watch
Arizona Senate Bill Aims to Prohibit Certain Books and Material in Schools (KOLD 13 News, Tucson AZ)
SB 1700 will allow parents the right to request that school districts or charter school libraries remove books and material that are lewd or sexual, promote gender fluidity or gender pronouns, or groom children into normalizing pedophilia.
(YCRT! comments in italics)
Notice how KOLD 13 News adopts the language of book-banners: "lewd or sexual," "promote gender fluidity or gender pronouns," "groom children into normalizing pedophilia.”
KOLD 13 News goes on, perhaps unintentionally, to highlight the malign know-nothingness of one of the bill's sponsors:
Senator Justine Wadsack of Tucson said this bill is needed as it has been a growing concern among her constituents. “There have been a couple of schools, in particular Vail school district where they had the, The Diary of an Indian, that raised a lot of concern from parents. Just over the last few years, it’s been a lot of graphic, almost cartoon versions of sexual acts," said Sen. Justine Wadsack of Tucson. "It’s gotten to the point where K-12 parents are not interested in having these types of books, with this level of graphics introduced to their children."
Does she mean The Absolutely True Dairy of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexi? The cartoons-of-sexual-acts-free memoir of growing up Native American in Washington state? Yes, she does.
Here's an interesting self-reveal by Arizona State Senator Woldsack, from a paywalled article on tucson.com, in which she discusses another book she wants banned, Beyond Magenta; Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin:
Woldsack says what concerns her is a "very explicit imagery of 6-year-old children giving oral sex."
Here's the cherry on top:
Woldsack acknowledged she has not actually seen the book.
Would you be surprised to learn there are no pictures of children (or anyone else) giving head in Beyond Magenta? No matter, she'd repeat the lie even if she had read the book, because she wants her base to believe it.
If you're curious, here's a link to my own review of Beyond Magenta.