Librarians and Book Bans: Why Not Burn the Books?

May 24, 2022

Every couple of years the nation deals with an unprecedented surge in book banning. Once upon a time Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn were the top banned contenders and they remain on the list. Other challenged titles include JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and The Bluest Eye. Banned books usually include content people deem blasphemous, lewd, racist, pornographic, and contrary to decent society.

Most books currently being banned discuss racism, trans people, homosexuality, sex, and alternative views of history. Educators are not the only professionals dealing with demands to ban books, school and public librarians are fighting the angry mobs too. Salon explores the current book banning storm that is sweeping the country in the article, “‘Hearbreaking’: Frightened Librarians Face ‘Hostile’ Harassment Trying To Navigate Book Bans.”

Texas is a conservative, Republican, Christian state and its librarians are facing a book banning crisis. Many librarians are quitting their jobs or are fired because they refuse to cave to the mobs. Librarians are not only facing hostility at work, but they are also dealing with it on social media:

“In Keller, local Facebook group pages and Twitter accounts have included pointed comments about librarians being “heretical” and portrayed them as pedophile “groomers” who order pornographic books. After a particular book challenge failed, one commenter included the phrase “pass the millstones,” a biblical reference to execution by drowning.”

Librarians who continue to work under the box banning blitz are hesitant to make any move that could be misinterpreted. They are afraid to order new books (and probably new copies of past banned books) because they do not want to deal with the backlash. They are playing it safe, but they wonder at what cost to themselves, students, and the future of education?

Most of the attacks are coming from parents who are unaware of what the questionable books contain. Many of the challengers do not read the books, stating that they do not need to read to recognize “smut” or “inappropriate” material. Book banning is an ignorant act and violates the First Amendment, the right to freedom of speech. Book banning is a propaganda tool for the Nazis, the Soviets, communist China, North Korea, various South American dictatorships, cults, and fundamentalist zealots use to control, indoctrinate, and brainwash people.

Book access should be managed for kids, but not everything deemed inappropriate fits the bill. The Bible contains references to genocide, sex, incest, rape, magic, cannibalism, evolution, war, and many more inappropriate subjects. Are librarians to be equipped with matches?

Whitney Grace, May 21, 2022


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