You Can’t Read That! is a periodic post about book banning. YCRT! features news and opinion roundups, commentary, history, and reviews.
As the items in this post’s news & opinion roundup indicate, things are progressing rapidly, and not in a good direction. No longer content to ban books from elementary and secondary school classrooms and libraries, the torch & pitchfork mob is going after college classrooms and libraries. Public libraries, too, which are under threat of defunding by Republican state legislatures, and are now receiving bomb threats.
Schools, colleges, and libraries are being swatted — invaded by armed police officers responding to false reports of shootings and killings made to 911 emergency services — and there’s emerging evidence such swatting is not only organized but automated. The publishing industry itself, at least in the case of Scholastic Books, is preemptively demanding authors tone down and even censor their work.
Yes, teachers, librarians, writers, students, and regular folks continue to push back, but the attacks are intensifying and some may be tempted to give up. Remember, the goons who want to ban books are the same 30-35% of the population Hillary Clinton called “the deplorables.” We outnumber the hell out of them and can easily defeat them, but only if we get off our butts. — Paul Woodford
YCRT! News & Opinion Roundup
After Bomb Threats, Iowa City School District Removes Book Targeted by Anti-LGBTQ Twitter Account (Iowa City Press-Citizen)
“This Book is Gay” is coming off the shelves at Northwest Junior High and other Iowa City Community School District libraries following a Twitter blast aimed at the Coralville school that administrators believe was linked to a pair of bomb threats.
How ‘Swatting’ Calls Spread as Schools Face Real Threats (KDKA News, Pittsburg PA)
A spate of threats and false reports of shooters have been pouring into schools and colleges across the country for months, raising concerns among law enforcement and elected leaders. Schools in Pennsylvania were the latest targeted by so-called swatting. Computer-generated calls on Wednesday made claims about active shooters, but it was all a hoax. One day earlier, nearly 30 Massachusetts schools received fake threats.
YCRT! comment: note the statement that the swatting calls were computer-generated. Here’s more on that:
Dozens of automated swatting calls targeting high schools around the U.S. can be traced to a Telegram account by the name of Torswats. https://t.co/ulxSfZ9lh3
— The Posse List (@PosseList) April 14, 2023
In an ominous sign that Republican culture warring shows little sign of slowing down, rightwing politicians in Missouri and Texas have decided they’re not satisfied with simply banning books that they fear might turn children gay — a thing that doesn’t happen anyway — but would instead prefer to just get rid of public libraries altogether, by defunding them
Scholastic issued an apology to Maggie Tokuda-Hall for asking the children’s book writer to edit an author’s note that condemned racism in the U.S.
YCRT! comment: Here’s what got that started:
OK. No more subtweeting. This is what happened. Full story at the link.
I’m so disappointed and furious and unsurprised. But I also have receipts.
— maggie tokuda-hall (@emteehall) April 12, 2023
A New Book-Ban Fiasco in Florida Reveals the Monster Desantis Created (Washington Post)
The proposal in question, which appears to have the governor’s general support, would require the instant removal of certain books targeted for objections, even before any sort of evaluative process unfolds. Advocates for free expression say this represents something new.
Judy Blume: Book Banning Now Much Worse in Us than in 1980s (The Guardian)
“I thought that was over, frankly … I came through the 80s when book banning was really at its height. And it was terrible. And then libraries and schools began to get policies in place and we saw a falling-off of the desire to censor books. Now it is back, it is back much worse — this is in America. It is back so much worse than it was in the 80s. Because it’s become political.”
Legislation of Concern in 2023 (everylibrary)
In 2023, we are paying the most attention to state legislative initiatives in eight categories: efforts to limit access to school library databases, proposals to establish book rating systems, mandating or prescribing materials challenge policies, efforts to regulate collection development policies, use of parental control policies to limit free speech, changes to obscenity and harmful to minors definitions that preempt First Amendment guarantees, bills that limit or outlaw the teaching of “divisive concepts,” and bills that would criminalize libraries, education, and museums by removing long-standing defense from prosecution exemptions under obscenity laws.
And last, from George M. Johnson, author of All Boys Aren’t Blue:
These folks banning books are wild. I’m good y’all but be safe out here. pic.twitter.com/0cBO67Rzy5
— George M Johnson (Garçon) (@IamGMJohnson) April 7, 2023