Next week the left will be celebrating “the Freedom to Read” during Banned Book Week. In years past People for the American Way (PAW), a liberal political advocacy group, published a report on censorship and “book banning.” Actually, books are not being banned in America. Anybody can buy a so-called banned book on Amazon or the great used-book site Bookfinder.com where you can find books from all around the world.
“Find used books, out of print books, textbooks, rare books and new books for sale. Search hundreds of millions of books from over 100,000 booksellers and 60+ websites worldwide”
So why devote an entire week to the freedom to read when everybody has the freedom to read in the United States? It’s an attempt to portray conservatives as out of touch and suppressers of freedom.
Much of the hand wringing is over book selection in government schools. Parents are often disturbed to find that their children are reading material that they believe is inappropriate considering a child’s maturity and development levels.
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Eric Buehrer, a former public-school teacher and president of Gateways to Better Education in Lake Forest, California, states that critics confuse “the issues of material selection and censorship. What used to be called discernment is now called censorship.”1 Why is it called “censorship” when parents apply standards for book selection for their children but called “meeting library standards” when librarians evaluate books to be placed in school libraries?
Judgments are constantly made as to what children should read and what books should appear on library shelves. Librarians appeal to “library standards” when selecting books, so why can’t parents? There is nothing wrong with having “standards.”
Unfortunately, these “library standards” are neither applied consistently in libraries and schools nor always reported in the same way by the press. It seems that when concerned parents voice objections to the content of books, they are said to be censors. But when books with Christian or conservative themes are refused by libraries or when teachers are denied the right to read a Bible silently during a reading period, we learn that the rejection is based upon the religious nature of the literature. Rarely are such actions by libraries and schools said to be “censorship” by even the strongest opponents of book banning.
Try getting a book into a school that questions the theory of evolution. See what happens when a professor “comes out” for questioning the science behind evolution. How many times have we heard that on certain subjects (e.g., global warming) “the debate is over”?
Public school textbooks are fertile ground for the seeds of willful historical deception. This is true censorship since the revisionism is being done by the government. A bookstore that refuses to carry a book or parents who question book selection are not engaged in censorship. Individuals cannot ban books; only government and their agents can.
Paul C. Vitz, professor of psychology at New York University, spent months of careful analysis of sixty textbooks used in elementary schools across the country. The study was sponsored by the National Institute on Education. The texts were examined in terms of their references to religion, either directly or indirectly. “In grades 1 through 4 these books introduce the child to U.S. society — to family life, community activities, ordinary economic transactions, and some history. None of the books covering grades 1 through 4 contain one word referring to any religious activity in contemporary American life.”2
Liberal groups have been involved in scrubbing the reading lists of government (public) schools for some time for content that they find offensive:
“Books such as JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird will be replaced by ‘informational texts’ approved by the Common Core State Standards.
“Suggested non-fiction texts include Recommended Levels of Insulation by the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Invasive Plant Inventory, by California’s Invasive Plant Council.
“The new educational standards have the backing of the influential National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and are being part-funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”
Because the scrubbing is “done by the left, the media, also on the left, will go quietly along with it. This disrupts the entire balance of the book-banning ballet. When the left bans something, the MSM has no problem with it.”
When visitors at a Printer’s Row Literature Festival in Chicago were asked to choose from a selection of books from authors Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Andrew Breitbart, Ayn Rand, Michael Savage, Bill Clinton, Michael Moore, Karl Marx, Adolf Hitler and Barack Obama which books should be banned “participants overwhelming chose Sarah Palin who received 53 votes putting her at 36% overall, Glenn Beck at 23% and Ann Coulter at 22%.”
- Quoted in “The great ‘censorship’ hoax,” Citizen (September 19, 1994), 8. [↩]
- Paul C. Vitz, Censorship: Evidence of Bias in Our Children’s Textbooks (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Books, 1986), 1. [↩]
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