B.L.U.F.: Stop f*cking with the books, gezus.
The big news on the left right now (aka when I wrote this a couple of weeks ago) is the drama ensuing from “book bans” happening in Florida and other southern states. I want to talk about this, and other book stuff, because it’s important. Just to be clear, in this missive I am referring to book bans as “books removed from circulation and unavailable to anyone in a state/country”… books pulled from the shelves and being held, or simply held books, as books that have been flagged by someone and that are currently being vetted, but have not yet been removed… and removed books, which are books that have been vetted and deemed inappropriate in some way, and which will not be returned to the library.
I’m an author. I write a variety of things, but in the fiction world, I write occult and fantasy fiction. My books do not belong in schools. They are not child friendly, for the most part. While I’ve allowed my kids to read my books, because I know my kids and I know the books, that does not mean that all kids should read my books. That decision is best left to the adults in their lives, perhaps with input from the kids as they get older.
First and foremost, there are no book bans going on in this country that I’m aware of. There are a variety of books being removed from elementary, middle, and high schools because someone (and that “someone” is pretty vacuous, to be honest) has decided they aren’t appropriate. In many cases, I have no problems with it. Twilight doesn’t belong in elementary school libraries, nor middle school. I’d say it’s fine in high school, though. Harry Potter is much the same, though for different reasons. The first couple of Potter books are fine in the elementary setting, but the rest should be relegated to the high school library.
There are, however, quite a few books being pulled from schools of late that are over the top inappropriate for school. I don’t have a problem with the books in general, but I can definitely say that I see no reason for them to be in a school library. Overly sexual books, books that deal with more than the scientific parts of sexuality are okay (ie age appropriate stuff on the reproductive cycle of plants, animals, and humans is fine, but “sex guides” definitely are not). If the only thing wrong with a book is that it mentions someone could be gay, or that gay people exist, I don’t think that’s an issue. It’s a fact. If it explains the hows and wherefores, that’s a wholly different issue.
But the books that are being removed are not always like that. Some books are being flagged, held, and then removed, because a single parent got their panties in a wad over something. There are currently four books that have been removed from most Florida schools, that I have a major problem with. They are:
- Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
- Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult
- The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
- Forever, by Judy Blume
I cannot find anything which allows “the rest of the parents” to argue or appeal these decisions. This is not how this country works. If I’m not going to let a Leftist hold me hostage over their “problem de jour”, then I’m not going to let the Right do it, either. These are not decisions that should be made by a single person, except when it comes to the extremes.
Of course, the Left has stuck their oar into these waters, and not in a positive way. I was horrified to see a video last week that showed a librarian pointing out huge bins of books that had been removed from the school library to be disposed of in landfill. According to her, the books had been removed by “someone from the state, he just came right in and started throwing these books into bins for disposal!” All is not as it seems, however, and the Florida school in question has fired the woman who made the video. Those books were indeed removed from the library… as they are every summer, for the school to go through them and see which ones need replacing, which ones are out of date, and which ones are fine to go back on the shelves. Because of the new laws, they are taking the opportunity to do vetting as they go through the books, at the same time. Due to school floor replacements (I believe… I couldn’t find the article that explained it), they were doing it BEFORE the end of school, so that the books would all be dealt with and back on the shelves in time for summer. The Left is still passing that video around as if it’s true despite being debunked. I have no words.
The Right, however, is not the only one to blame when it comes to book issues and literature. While I might argue that the Right is doing a disservice with the removal of books from schools, I cannot disagree with the fact that a number of books that even I consider inappropriate have shown up of late.
My expectation of the Left was that it would argue the removals and holds. And while that is happening, what the Left is also doing comes under the heading, “Here, hold my beer.” The Left is behind the censorship and change of many classic novels. This is leaps and bounds worse than removing a book from a school, a book that I can still order on Amazon or pick up at the local public library. They are literally going in and changing the words of the author to be more “politically correct.”
Let’s see. The new editions of Roald Dahl’s books are removing words deemed “offensive”. The James Bond series, written by Ian Flemming, is being rewritten to be less womanizing. They’re also editing the Doctor Doolittle series by Hugh Lofting.
This goes far beyond removing a book from a school shelf. This is removing the story, the original words of the author, from everywhere. First they removed The Merchant of Venice for being racist, then came Romeo and Juliet for daring to talk about suicide. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn were taken out of schools ages ago. At least you can find original copies of those books, though. What the owners of the aforementioned edited books are doing is actually changing the original wording.
They have the right to do it. The copyright holders are permitted to make such changes. I would not want that right taken away, I might add. As an author, if I discover an error in one of my texts, I want to fix it so that further editions are correct, be it spelling and grammar, or a silly continuity mistake. That’s not changing the original meaning of my books, however.
Along with that, we’re also seeing awards changed. The “Laura Ingalls Wilder Award”, which has been given to authors who make a lasting impact on the world of children’s literature, has been renamed to the “Children’s Literature Legacy Award” because Laura Ingalls dared to write about Native Americans and call them Indians (the only name she would have been aware of when her books were written, one might note) and she mentions “black people” in a less than praising way.
I just don’t know what to think anymore. Leave the damn books alone!