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You Can’t Read That!

You Can’t Read That! is a periodic roundup of news about banned and challenged books.

Right on the heels of the racially-motivated confiscation and banning of textbooks in Tucson schools (see my previous posts, here and here) comes SB 1467, a bill before the Arizona state legislature that will require teachers to limit their speech to language compliant with Federal Communications Commission regulations on what can be said on TV or radio.  It’s generally being reported as a “no cussing in the classroom” bill.

But people are beginning to see it for what it really is: a book-banning bill.  If it passes, and if our conservative governor signs it, it will be used as legal cover to remove from schools all the books the right wing hates: Catcher in the Rye, Slaughterhouse-5, The Grapes of Wrath, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, To Kill a Mockingbird, Nickel and Dimed, probably even Huckleberry Finn — books now being taught in advanced placement classes across Arizona; books young people actually check out from school libraries.

Something tells me SB 1467 is one of those American Legislative Exchange Council bills, written by right wing activists and passed on to conservative state-level lawmakers.  If I’m right, we can expect similar bills to emerge in other states.  I thought I was on to something when I began to see an organized, politically-driven pattern to parental school book challenges around the country, but as usual I’m a day late and a dollar short — they’re coming for the books through ALEC and the state legislatures now.

In other Arizona news:

“Arizona has made our books sacred documents now.” — Sherman Alexie

Local and national groups are working to make sure the Tucson school district’s “disappeared” Mexican American studies books don’t stay disappeared long:


Here’s a interesting test for those of us who oppose book banning: remember those old racist textbooks that depicted early African hominids as dark-skinned and ape-like, while homo sapiens — modern man — always looked like a happy European marching off to work?  What would you do if you learned those books are not only still around but that your child had to use one in class?

A Tulsa, Oklahoma competition for budding romance writers welcomed entries in all categories — paranormal, historical,  and contemporary — so long as the romances were heterosexual.  Gay romance stories, organizers explained, were “just too much.”  The competition has been cancelled.

Some New Hampshire conservatives have hit upon another effective way to ban dangerous books: defund and close public libraries.  Well, if that doesn’t work, they can always consider the Arizona option!

© 2012, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.


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