Book Bans: The Republican Censorship Vogue

September 30, 2022 0 comments

A book must first be contested before it can be banned. A book challenge occurs when someone attempts to remove or restrict a work of literature due to various objections. The book is not considered banned until it is withdrawn from a school or library curriculum. This indicates that free access to the book is no longer available in the designated institution, or, in more extreme circumstances, is prohibited by law. Although books are challenged regularly, only approximately 10% of contested books are truly banned.

Conservative Christian and tea party groups are working hard to change that, stat.

“Mom’s for Liberty” rallied parents across the US to push for the banning of books they claim are a “smokescreen” for introducing students to critical race theory.

Many works have one thing in common: They acknowledge that Black people and women of color exist and accomplish things.

Among them are:

A Is for Audra: Broadway’s Leading Ladies from A to Z

Condoleeza Rice: Being The Best

Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and his Orchestra

Elizabeth Blackwell: The First Woman Doctor

Reshma Saujan: Girls Who Code

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code

Natasha Tarpley: I Love My Hair!

Marti Dumas: Muffin Wars

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage

Brad Meltzer: I Am Rosa Parks.

Meg Belviso and Pam Pollack: Who Was Lucille Ball?

… And every book in every series associated with those books, and a bunch of other books they thought they might not like, just to be safe.

Republican Rep. Matt Krause has compiled a list of 850 books he wants to be removed from school libraries in Texas. His list only includes works published between 1969 and 2021, focusing on books written in the most recent decade about the Black, Asian, Latino/a, and indigenous experience and anything that mentions LGBTQ, even if in passing or outside the main characters and story.

The 2022 Conservative Republican library censoring list even includes many non-fiction books, and so far, my three “favorite” non-fiction books among the 2022 Conservative Republican censorship list are:

1) Everything You Need To Know About Going To The Gynecologist (1999)

2) The Legal Atlas of the United States (1997)

3) You Are The Supreme Court Justice (1994)

Everything You Need to Know About Seeing a Gynecologist explains what a gynecologist does, when and why you should see an OB/GYN, and how to find one. The book contains useful information regarding the menstrual cycle, performing a breast self-exam, and what to expect during a pelvic exam. The contraception section is brief, with two paragraphs each on “The Condom,” “The Birth Control Pill,” “The Diaphragm and the Cervical Cap,” and “Other Methods” (implants and injections). The “Reproductive Health” chapter defines and discusses various common problems, such as amenorrhea, PMS, and UTIs.

“The Legal Atlas of the United States” provides a unique, easy-to-use cartographic reference to law and legal issues. With 145 colorful maps and charts, this volume creates a clear picture of how states differ on major legal topics, including marriage, divorce, paternity, adoption, abortion, school prayer, and the responsibility of parents. The Atlas also includes valuable information on various crimes and statistics on corrections and law enforcement.

“You Are The Supreme Court Justice” takes well-known cases, provides background information to the reader as if the reader is the Justice, presents the Court’s options, and encourages the reader to make a ruling on the matter. They then turn to the next page to see the actual judgment. The structure enables readers to see and consider the legal rationale and arguments behind each case. Personal or civil rights are at issue in all of the cases.

Schenk v. United States (free speech during World War I)

Board of Education v. Barnett (flag salutation during World War II)

Brown v. Board of Education (state-sanctioned segregation)

Gideon v. Wainwright (indigent right to legal counsel)

Miranda v. Arizona (criminal suspects held in custody)

Roe v. Wade (privacy)

Bakke v. California (affirmative action)

Cruzan v. Missouri (right to die)

Teens have sex questions; it’s just a matter of who they ask and how credible the answers are.

Other books on the Conservative Republican library censorship list are non-fiction books about everything a female will likely face throughout her adolescence and how to deal with it calmly, from STDs and sexual assault to buying her first bra and using sanitary napkins:

It’s a Girl Thing: How to Stay Healthy, Safe and in Charge

Wait, What?: A Comic Book Guide to Relationships, Bodies, and Growing Up

Girlness: Deal with it Body and Soul

Sex, Puberty and All that Stuff: A Guide to Growing Up

Does this Happen to Everyone?: A Budding Adult’s Guide to Puberty

Sexual Health Information for Teens: Health Tips about Sexual Development, Reproduction, Contraception, and Sexually Transmitted Infections

What’s Happening to My Body?: Book for Girls Growing Up, a Guide for Parents and Daughters

The Reproductive System (Insider’s Guide to the Body)

Everything You Need to Know about Growing Up Female

Republicans have targeted most of the works by sci-fi writer Shaun David Hutchinson, including The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried, At the Edge of the Universe, We Are the Ants, The five stages of Andrew Brawley, and Complicated Love Story Set in Space.

A Complicated Love Story Set in Space by Shaun David Hutchinson is a sci-fi fantasy novel where three teenagers, two boys and a girl, face all the perils of space, as well as murder, aliens, a school dance, and one very, really horrible day with no memory of how they got there. The result is an extremely exciting, bizarrely creative story that will leave readers yearning for more.

Reason for Censorship: Rather than the typical boy/girl teen romance, the boys develop romantic sentiments for each other in this tale. When a girl is available instead of a jealous second boy? Be still my heart!

One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi explores gender inequality in Afghanistan. As a result of losing a leg in an explosion, Obayda’s father, a police officer in Afghanistan, can no longer work. With her three older sisters, Obayda relocates from Kabul to a small village near her father’s home. Obayda’s family member proposes that she pretend to be a boy so she can earn money for them. Even though she’ll miss her pretty clothing, her long hair, and her closeness with her sisters, she’d love nothing more than to be able to go outside, play, and climb trees. When it comes to the freedoms and responsibilities that come with being a boy, Obayda’s story illustrates how societies, whether intentionally or unintentionally, set distinct standards according to gender.

Reason for censorship: The exploration of social gender role and responsibility standards, even about another country, might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their sex.

Thirteen Reasons Why, the novel, is as controversial as the Netflix TV adaptation. Thirteen Reasons Why, the account of a young woman’s suicide and the study of her life before suicide, was included on the Republican 850 censored library book list.

Reasons for Censorship: Instead of stimulating much-needed discussions about a wide range of social issues affecting today’s adolescents (such as suicide, sexual assault, bullying, drugs, alcohol, smoking, and rape), critics say the book romanticizes suicide and contend the book may promote copycat scenarios.

Over a decade, data has found no suicidal link to the book, but experts have proven that not talking about social problems kids face is directly tied to attempted and actual suicides.

In this 1968 mystery thriller A Case of Need, the protagonist, Dr. John Berry, is a pathologist working in Boston during the 1960s who receives word that a buddy has been jailed and accused of performing an illegal abortion that resulted in the death of a member of a prestigious Boston medical family. Berry sets out to prove his innocence.  Berry eventually discovers that Karen’s drug-dealing pals were responsible for the botched abortion, then he’s attacked and sent to the hospital. Berry’s assailant, who turns out to be Karen’s African-American boyfriend, is also taken to the hospital in an ambulance, dead from a suspicious fall.

Reasons for Censorship: Censor advocates find the term “need” in the title in combination a mention of abortion problematic, even though no one could possibly read this book and come away thinking abortion is great.

To be honest, the plot totally reminded me of A Time To Kill, one of my all-time favorite books/movies. Surprisingly, Republican censors left this one alone, despite exploring racism and the criminal justice system that got so many other books on the list.

This 1963 illustrated classic did not make the Republican banned book list for 2022, but I included it as a bonus because the activism to do so is still alive and strong.

In Where The Wild Things Go, when Max is wicked, his mother refers to him as a “wild thing,” and when he is cheeky, she sends him to bed without dinner. Max feels extremely angry in his room, dressed in pajamas that make him kinda look like a wolf, and imagines his bedroom turning into a jungle where he meets weird and strange creatures whose emotions are as wild and unexpected as their acts. The book’s main theme is surrounded by the strong concept of imagination and the places it may lead you. Max invents a new world in which he can direct his own fate, escape reality, and explore his emotions.

Reasons for Censorship: When the book was first published in 1963, it was banned because adults felt it objectionable that Max was punished by being sent to bed without dinner (child abuse). They also protested the supernatural undertones in the book.

Some parents now say that the book is psychologically damaging and unsettling to young children exposed to the “dark and distressing tone of the story,” and that it may encourage exaggeration and lead to emotional outbursts.

“Everywhere Babies” has been included in the latest 54-book banning list… not to be confused with last week’s Republican Rep 850-book censorship list.

“Everywhere Babies” is a rhyming book that describes what a baby does and begins each page with “Every day, everywhere, infants are ___,” followed by text and illustrations demonstrating how babies do that thing. “Every day, everywhere, babies are born-fat babies, thin babies, small babies, tall babies, winter and spring babies, summer and fall babies,” says the first entry.

Each subsequent entry follows a baby’s development over the course of a year. Babies are fed, rocked, make noise, make friends, crawl, walk, and the last post is a photo of a one-year-old birthday party that is appreciated just for who they are. A charming book with expressive drawings and a timeless theme.

The book’s sole “controversial” aspect is an unidentified depiction of people putting their arms around each other’s shoulders, which “could” be interpreted as same-sex couples or simply blood-family-member affection.

Defund for Ignorance is on the Menu

In August, residents in Jamestown, Michigan, voted to defund the small-town Patmos Library on Tuesday rather than allow some books with LGBTQ+ themes.

The defund campaign was started by a group calling itself the Jamestown Conservatives, saying it exists to “keep our children safe, and protect their purity, as well as to keep the nuclear family intact as God designed.”

Numerous people turned up at library board meetings to demand the organization remove the graphic novel Gender Queer: a Memoir by Maia Kobabe after a parent raised concerns about it. The book is about the author’s experience of coming out as nonbinary. (The book, which included sex imagery, was in the library’s adult department.)

After the Patmos Library put Kobabe’s book behind the counter rather than on the shelves, complaints began targeting other books with LGBTQ+ themes or content

Residents were urged to vote against renewing the library’s funding due to the library’s unwillingness to submit to the blanket book-banning demands.

The Jamestown Conservatives handed out flyers accusing a library director of promoting “the LGBTQ ideology” and called for making the library “a safe and neutral place for our children.”

Young and old people of Jamestown might discover that the entire library and its books have been taken away from them by the conservative Defund-the-Library movement after the first quarter of 2023.

Also in August, Kimber Glidden, 51, a former bank manager turned librarian, resigned as director of the Boundary County Public Library in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, stating that “nothing in my background could have prepared me for the political atmosphere of extremism, militant Christian fundamentalism, intimidation tactics, and threatening behavior currently being employed in the community.”

For months, a group of conservative Christians has bombarded the public library staff and board with demands for Pride Month display bans, prohibiting membership in the American Library Association, and a list of books to be removed from the shelves.

None of their over 400-title list has ever been in the library’s collection.

The activists then demanded a pre-emptive ban on young adult books with LGBTQ characters and novels with scenes “describing sexual behavior” or “invoking the occult.”

They were enraged that the library wanted to join the American Library Association, a non-profit trade organization known for battling censorship and which local activists falsely accused of “promoting pedophilia.”

The Christian group also argues that the American Library Association “brainwashed our libraries” into believing that “public library book access is a First Amendment issue.”

Wait a second… Surely, public library book access is both a Freedom AND a First Amendment issue, right?

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