You Can’t Read That!

You Can’t Read That! is a periodic post about book banning and censorship. YCRT! features news and opinion roundups, commentary, history, and reviews.

Not 1930s Germany. 21st century America. Pastor Greg Locke book burning, Mount Juliet TN, Feb 2, 2022 (click image for story)

YCRT! News & Opinion Roundup

The Lives Upended by Florida’s School Book Wars (Washington Post)

In January, I was told to clear out my classroom library. I was supposed to box up the nearly 500 books I’d spent 15 years collecting, take them away and look through every single one to figure out if it might be a problem. For some reason.

I’m a fourth-grade teacher. I teach English language arts. I know my subject, I know my books. There’s nothing bad in my books. There’s no spookiness or inappropriateness in my classroom library.

So I said no. I’m not doing that. I’m not going to rifle through 500 books to find the ones someone might have trouble with. These are all books that, as a trained educator, I have chosen. I’m not going to take time away from connecting with students and parents, or writing up my lesson plans, to box up books because of someone’s irrational fear of — what? I’m not sure.

From Iowa to Florida, National Lawsuits against Local Book Bans Begin to Gain Traction (Los Angeles Times)

“Today, we urged the court to vindicate the constitutional rights of students, parents, authors and publishers,” said Katie Blankenship, the director of PEN America, Florida. … These books need to be returned to the shelves where they belong, and every day that students are refused access is a day they’re not getting the high-quality education they deserve,” she continued.

Dickish Florida School Dicks Interdict Dictionaries for Being Too Dang Sexy (Wonkette)

… the Escambia County School District, which is already being sued for its removal of books from school libraries, just keeps on finding new things to censor, The Guardian reported Thursday. Latest on the chopping block, or at least off the library shelves: Reference books, because what if innocent young people look up dirty words or read about gay people or sex stuff in an encyclopedia?

YCRT! Comment: Attempts to ban dictionaries from school and even public libraries are nothing new. A quick Google search turned up this report of dictionary-banning from January 2010 — in “liberal” California of all places.

Mysterious Woman Tells School Board That Scholastic Book Sparked Porn Addiction (Popular Information)

On November 14, a 20-year-old woman named Lanah Burkhardt appeared before the school board of the Conroe Independent School District in Texas. Burkhardt told the board that, when she was 11, she read a Scholastic book that introduced her to “a single kiss.” According to Burkhardt, her exposure to this Scholastic book was directly responsible for her developing a debilitating addiction to pornography.

Burkhardt said that after reading the Scholastic book with the “single kiss,” she “looked for other books that gave me pleasure.” This “led to internet searches” that Burkhardt will “never forget.” By the time she was 13, Burkhardt says her porn addiction left her depressed and suicidal.

YCRT! comment: As the Popular Information article points out, however, Ms. Burkhardt wasn’t so mysterious after all — she’s employed by Brave Books, a publisher of children’s books written by right-wing pundits and celebrities, and promotes Sky Tree Book Fairs, a would-be competitor to the well-established Scholastic Book Fairs. The next news report, below, is about a related attack on Scholastic:

Kirk Cameron Is Coming for Your Children’s Book Fairs (Wonkette)

Why is he doing this? Because Scholastic has some books about LGBTQ+ kids and issues that absolutely no one is required to buy.

“They’re a billion-dollar company, around for over 100 years,” Cameron told the Moonie Times. “They have over 100,000 book fairs around the country, hundreds every single day in public and private schools, and the books are increasingly laced with gender-confusing, race-infused, pornographic, sexually explicit material that you can’t even advertise on Facebook.”

Meet the Woman Training Parents How to Get Books Banned (Daily Beast)

England’s latest project is Take Back The Classroom, a website where she identifies “obscene” books in school districts all over the country, offers webinars to parents and community members seeking to get them removed, and solicits donations to further her cause. In a toolkit available on her site, England says she “leads the fight to expose and eliminate progressive ideologies in the school setting. This includes CRT, SEL and graphic, inappropriate sexual education.” (CRT refers to Critical Race Theory, and SEL to “Social-Emotional Learning.”)

YCRT! comment: the reigning “woman training parents how to get books banned,” of course, is Vicki Baggett of Escambia County High School in Florida, the subject of my previous YCRT! post.

School Board Member Sworn in on Pile of Banned Books to Troll Moms for Liberty (Pink News)

Democrat Karen Smith officially took up the role at Central Bucks School Board on Monday (4 December), during a ceremony in which she took her oath on a pile of six books that have been opposed by Republicans for their LGBTQ+ themes.

The Texas Historical Commission Removed Books on Slavery From Plantation Gift Shops (Texas Monthly)

As of November of this year, the Texas Historical Commission no longer sells White Rage by Anderson or Stamped From the Beginning by Kendi, or 23 other works to which Haas later objected, at two former slave plantations in Brazoria County, including Varner-Hogg. Among the literature no longer available for purchase is an autobiography of a slave girl, a book of Texas slave narratives, the celebrated novel Roots by Alex Haley, and the National Book Award–winning Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.

Someone Complained About a Book in a Great Barrington Classroom. Then the Police Showed Up. (The Berkshire Eagle)

The teacher declined to comment and asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation. Earlier, however, she had written about the incident on social media. She noted her robust experience teaching English and curating books for students.

“How on earth is a cop more qualified to decide what books are OK to be in an educational setting for teens?” the teacher wrote.

Queer Louisianans Are Fighting Book Bans — and Winning (In These Times)

The parish has become a flashpoint in the censorship battle sweeping the country. Between August 2022 and this November, 172 titles have been challenged at the library, 160 of them?—?including Two Boys Kissing—following complaints from local resident Connie Phillips, who claims the books expose children to pornography and pedophilia and confuse readers about gender identity.

YCRT! International (So You Think We’ve Got It Bad?)

Israeli Group Claims It’s Working with Big Tech Insiders to Censor “Inflammatory” Wartime Content (The Intercept)

A small group of volunteers from Israel’s tech sector is working tirelessly to remove content it says doesn’t belong on platforms like Facebook and TikTok, tapping personal connections at those and other Big Tech companies to have posts deleted outside official channels, the project’s founder told The Intercept.

[ … ]

So far, nearly 2,000 participants have flagged a wide variety of posts for removal, from content that’s clearly racist or false to posts that are merely critical of Israel or sympathetic to Palestinians, according to chat logs reviewed by The Intercept. “In the U.S. there is free speech,” Kaganovitch explained. “Anyone can say anything with disinformation. This is very dangerous, we can see now.”

St. Petersburg Librarians on Russia’s Book Bans and the Ways They Fight Back (Meduza)

On December 19, the day after the Russian authorities declared writer Boris Akunin persona non grata, the head of one of St. Petersburg’s district library systems got a message from the local cultural department: “Dear colleagues, Akunin has been added to the list of ‘terrorists and extremists.’ Put [his books] into deep storage immediately. Do not issue them!!! When books of his are returned, mark them with Category 5.”

YCRT! comment: Tell you what, though, I don’t see a lot of daylight between what’s happening there and what’s happening here, particularly in Florida and Texas!

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge