The Best Books: Banned Ones, Of Course

September 14, 2023

Every few years the United States deals with a morality crisis that surrounds inappropriate items. In the 1980s-1990s, it was the satanic panic that demoralized role playing games, heavy metal and rap music, videogames, and everything tied to the horror/supernatural genre. This resulted in the banning of multiple mediums, including books. Teachers, parents, and other adults are worried about kids’ access to so-called pornographic books, specifically books that deal with LGBTIA+ topics.

The definition of “p*rnography” differs with every individual, but the majority agree that anything describing sex or related topics, nudity, transgenderism, and homosexuality fulfill that definition. While some of the questionable books do depict sex and/or sexual acts, protestors are applying a blanket term to every book they deem inappropriate. Their worst justification for book banning is that they do not need to read a book to know it is “p*rnographic.” [Just avoiding the smart banned word list. Editor]

Thankfully there are states that stand by the First Amendment: “Illinois Passes Bill To Stop Book-Bannings,” says Lit Hub. The Illinois state legislature passed House Bill 2789 that states all schools and libraries that remove books from their collections will not receive state grant money. Anti-advocates complain that people’s taxes are paying for books that they do not like. Radical political groups, including the Proud Boys, have supported book banning.

Other books topics deemed inappropriate include racial themes, death, health and wellbeing, violence, suicide, physical abuse, abortion, sexual abuse, and teen pregnancy. In 1982, Island Trees School District vs. Pico was a book banning case that went before the Supreme Court. The plaintiff was student Steven Pico from Long Island, who challenged his school district about books they claimed were “just plain filthy.” The outcome was:

“Pico won, and Justice William Brennan wrote in a majority decision that “Local school boards may not remove books from school libraries simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to ‘prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.’”

We are in a new era characterized by the Internet and changing societal values. The threat to freedom of speech and access to books, however, remains the same.

Whitney Grace, September 14, 2023


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