Tuesday, June 11, 2024

MO: More Book Banning Foolishness

Now that the book banning craze has had some time to find its legs, certain patterns of foolishness have emerged.

In many states, it has become a way to circumvent democratic processes entirely. We see over and over a tiny minority--sometimes just one person--demands to decide what everyone's children can read.  There's Vicki Baggett in Florida (at least 150 books). There's Washington Post's finding that  60% of book challenges came from just 11 persons. Adam Andre in Wisconsin challenged 444 books challenged 444 books. In Fort Bend, Texas, it was an actual board member, David Hamilton.

Hamilton is typical of another phenomenon-- the book challenger who has not actually read the book. 

This kind of blind attack on a book is facilitated by sites like Book Looks. Set up by some former Moms For Liberty, the site provides a quick, handy guide to all the Naughty Books. You don't even have to read them yourself (and if you're really lazy, you don't even have to check to see if the books are even in your library before you demand they be removed).

Here's a particularly striking example from St. Joseph School District in St. Joseph, Missouri. St. Joseph exists in the shadow of the Herzog Foundation, one more far right organization created by a rich guy to impose his vision on society. This particular vision involves school vouchers, lots of GOP officials, and a goal to “catalyze and accelerate the development of quality Christ-centered K-12 education.” They are directly tied to some local churches, and they have lots of money to throw around.

Keeping an eye on Herzog shenanigans is Herzog-free SJSD. A Herzog official filed a Sunshine request back in December for a list of all books, and soon book challenges started to appear. See what you notice about the list of challenges:

Yes, reading is hard. I am particularly unimpressed with Lawrence, who could not find the time to read "And Tango Makes Three," which, to be clear, is a children's picture book with fewer than forty pages.

The group also shared some of the actual forms on their Facebook page (comments were added by HFSJSD

It's no wonder that one other frequent theme in book banning coverage is librarians who have absolutely had enough (here, here, here, and here). 

Are there serious discussions to be had about which books are suitable for which young audiences? Absolutely. But to have serious conversations, you have to have serious people on both sides, and some of these culture panic folks are not serious enough for any such conversation.

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