You Can’t Read That! is a periodic post about book banning. YCRT! features news and opinion roundups, commentary, history, and reviews.
YCRT! News & Opinion Roundup
Illinois to Become First State to Ban Book Bans (Book Riot)
… per the bill, the $62 million of funding that goes to the state’s libraries will only be eligible for said funding if they “adopt the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights” or “develop a written statement prohibiting the practice of banning books or other materials within the library or library system.“
When the Culture Wars Come for the Public Library (The New Yorker)
Flathead County had always trended conservative, and harbored clusters of Ammon Bundy extremists, but its mainstream politics, until recently, tended toward a live-and-let-live libertarianism. The weeks that followed stunned library staff. Newell, who is openly bisexual, was harassed: “I had people get in my face, yell, and spit, and scream an inch from my face.” At an outreach event, she was grabbed by a man complaining of the “library’s agenda about transgenderism.” In April, a queer-youth support group met, as it often did, in the library basement. Afterward, several men waiting outside chased two of the teens down the street, yelling, “Fucking faggots.”
They’re Killing Libraries (Pharyngula)
… one person, literally one person, squeaked an objection, and chickenshit school administrators in Martin county immediately pulled every Roberts book off the shelves. That’s all it takes, one prude from the fascist group “Moms for Liberty” complains, and administrators instantly surrender. There’s a reason for that. “Moms for Liberty” is a right-wing terrorist organization.
Retired Navy Officer Takes on Florida’s Book-Ban Fascism (Daily Beast)
“Religious fanatics, who wouldn’t even let women be educated, flew planes into the World Trade Center and my Pentagon,” 54-year-old Wess Rexrode said. “I spent the last decade of my naval career fighting religious fascism abroad. I never thought I’d have to fight it right here in the United States of America.
Until recently, schools were the battleground for book bans. But now the book-ban movement is targeting the one place a kid should be able to access vetted and potentially life-saving information for free. They’re targeting the books but also the librarians; SB 2360 actually threatens to throw librarians in jail if they don’t comply. As North Dakota author Taylor Brorby tells me, “Even Ron DeSantis hasn’t come up with that scary thought yet.”
… a forbidden book will always have appeal. Almost as soon as Margaret was published, it was banned in certain corners; Blume has said her own children’s elementary school principal wouldn’t shelve it in the school library because it mentioned menstruation. In the 1980s, conservative warriors Phyllis Schlafly and Jerry Falwell made Margaret and other Blume books a target of their ire. Schlafly’s Eagle Forum put out a pamphlet titled “How to Rid Your Schools and Libraries of Judy Blume Books.”
GOP Rep Suggests Replacing Libraries with ‘Church-Owned’ Alternatives (MSNBC MaddowBlog)
None of this makes sense. Americans’ public libraries have not become “grooming centers,” and Congress funding “church-owned” alternatives is obviously at odds with the First Amendment. But the fact that Higgins felt comfortable espousing such an idea publicly says a great deal about where some on the right find themselves when it comes to libraries, free speech, and church-state separation.
Book Bans and Native Voices (American Indians in Children’s Literature)
People continue to take from Native peoples and Native Nations. It started with our lands and our children. It included efforts to destroy our nationhood and cultures by making it illegal for us to speak our languages and tell our stories and practice our religions. … But now, our books — our voices — are being removed from libraries and classrooms.
“I made the difficult decision to leave the district following the events of the last board meeting when the book ‘reviews’ began,” Librarian Christine Knust wrote.
… Barbee explained she played the Disney movie to a class, which was only partially full after a day of standardized testing. She also said she had previously-signed permission slips from all the parents, allowing the students to watch a movie rated PG. According to Barbee, a parent then complained and reported her to the state Department of Education.
In response to the Escambia County School Board’s removals and restrictions on school library books, the board is being sued in federal court by some very big guns: publisher Penguin (heh) Random House, five authors, two parents of children in the school district, and the freedom to read nonprofit PEN America, alleging that the school board is violating the First Amendment rights of all the plaintiffs.
Cousins and Stephana Ferrell founded the Florida Freedom to Read Project after meeting at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to support mask-wearing in schools. They confronted conservative parental rights groups, including Moms for Liberty, that opposed COVID-19 restrictions and would later challenge “liberal indoctrination” on the teaching of racial equality and gender.
YCRT! Social Media Roundup
NEW. An updated book ban report for the current school year from @PENamerica shows how new state laws are supercharging book suppression in schools, esp in Florida. ? #FReadom #EdScare #BookBans
— Jonathan Friedman ? (@jonfreadom) April 20, 2023
.@angiecthomas—author of the frequently banned The Hate U Give—responds to a @CBSSunday segment on banned books that featured only white parents from the book banning group Moms for Liberty. #BannedBooks #BlackAuthors #BlackLives pic.twitter.com/sMsiq40lU5
— PEN America (@PENamerica) April 24, 2023
More students protesting book bans, this week in Plattsmouth, NB. Here, 52 books have been challenged & some or all pulled. Part of what the students are protesting is the district’s claim that banning the books pending investigation “seems reasonable” /1 https://t.co/ABA3QwVyvn
— Jonathan Friedman ? (@jonfreadom) April 28, 2023