In a recent piece in The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein proclaimed, “The Book-Bans Debate Has Finally Reached a Turning Point.” With the solemnity of a writer reporting on anti-totalitarian uprisings, Brownstein’s opening paragraph explains, “Across multiple fronts, Democrats and their allies are stiffening their resistance to a surge of Republican-led book bans.”
It seems that this writer and many others are taking a cue from Joseph Goebbels, chief propagandist for the Nazi Party, who once posited, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
No one is banning any books. The government is not destroying any reading material and imprisoning writers. What’s happening very simply is that parents and some school districts don’t want their children being exposed to books like Gender Queer, in which the protagonist says, “I can’t wait to have your c**k in my mouth — I’m going to give you the bl*w j*b of your life. Then I want you inside me.”
Also, parents may not want their children to have access to Jack of Hearts (and other parts) by L.C. Rosen. The author details the “unapologetically queer” sex life of a teenager in graphic detail. In City Journal, Dave Seminara writes that the book is full of pornographic content. “Big hairy muscled men love taking it up the *ss . . . And slim, makeup-wearing types? We love to f*ck and, in my case, getting f*cked too.” In another part of the book, a boy character says, “What I really get turned on by, is the idea of hurting (girls). Not like beating them or anything but spanking them, slapping them, making them wear collars and ball gags and ordering them around.”
Again, no one is for actually banning these books, no matter how perverse they may be. But parents do not want them in their children’s classrooms or school libraries. If schools allow this type of smut, why not stock Hustler or Penthouse magazines on the shelves? It should be noted that parents have the feds on their side. Federal law strictly prohibits the distribution of obscene matter to minors. “Any transfer or attempt to transfer such material to a minor under the age of 16, including over the internet, is punishable under federal law.”
In addition to complaining about attempts to remove dirty books from our schools, the anti-banning zealots try to make the case that books outside the porn realm are also on the chopping block. Perhaps the most strident outfit in the country is PEN America, a group that grandiosely claims that it “stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide.” The group reveals that from July 2021 to June 2022, their Index of School Book Bans lists 2,532 instances of individual books being banned.”
But Jay Greene, Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, vehemently disagrees. While PEN America claims that many important books having nothing to do with sex have all succumbed to the book banners, Greene methodically destroys this assertion, writing, “Among the books that PEN America alleges were banned are classic works, such as Anne Frank’s Diary, Brave New World, Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men, The Color Purple, and To Kill a Mockingbird. In every school district in which PEN America alleges those books were banned, we found copies listed as available in the online card catalogue.”
Greene adds, “We were unable to find 26% of the books that PEN America claimed were banned in school district card catalogues, but that doesn’t necessarily mean those books were banned. Given how sloppy and error-prone the PEN America report is, it’s unclear whether the books we were unable to find in school district card catalogues had ever been listed and then removed.”
Greene backs up his statements by providing screenshots on Twitter that show that the “banned” books are readily available in school libraries.
Nonetheless, PEN America is doubling down. Like any strident left-wing outfit, they will plod on, and its newest “plod” is a lawsuit. Last week, PEN America, Penguin Random House, and several authors filed a federal lawsuit against Escambia County School District in northern Florida “over its removal from school libraries and restrictions on 10 books related to race or LGBTQ identity.” Among the books is Two Boys Kissing, in which the protagonist claims that he and his same-sex love interest are about more than “dreaming and loving and screwing.”
It’s worth noting that some of the books on race have sexual content. All Boys Aren’t Blue is about a boy who is black and gay who laments, “In our society, a person’s sex is based on their genitalia.”
PEN America’s lawsuit is invoking the First Amendment and the Constitution’s equal protection clause in its case. But what has gone unaddressed by PEN America is that, again, federal law strictly prohibits the distribution of obscene material to minors.
Perhaps, instead of constantly grousing about book bans, PEN America could channel the film industry. The Motion Picture Association realizes that not all content is appropriate for all age groups and self-censors via a rating system:
- PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned – Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.)
- R: (Restricted – Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.)
- X: No one under 17 can be admitted.
Why would PEN America not adopt a similar regimen for books?
The answer is simple. It’s because PEN America is a radical group whose mission includes perverting American youth and, thusly, dragging American culture into the woke gutter.
Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.