We are better than banning books.

Friday, December 11, 2015

"All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships." - George Bernard Shaw

The above quote from George Bernard Shaw is especially insightful right now in Wisconsin, where two school boards have recently considered removing books from schools.  In Mount Horeb, a reading of a book called “I am Jazz” was planned to help educate kids about what a transgender classmate was going through.  The reading was postponed after a Florida-based religious conservative organization, the Liberty Council, threatened to sue.

In Marshfield, a local school board member threatened to pull her kids out of the school district because kindergarteners were reading a Muppets-themed book called "For Every Child A Better World." She feels it “downplays American exceptionalism” and wants the book banned.

The fight against censorship  can only be accomplished when individuals are vigilant and speak out to protect their rights and the rights of others to read age-appropriate materials relevant to our children’s education.  Thankfully, citizens in these communities are speaking out and standing up to the individuals who want to restrict the types of lessons Wisconsin students may learn.  These school boards have policies and practices in place to review books, and we encourage them to follow those processes instead of reacting blindly to a few frightened reactionaries.

Persis Karim said in The New Assault on Libraries, "Obviously, the danger is not in the actual act of reading itself, but rather, the possibility that the texts children read will incite questions, introduce novel ideas, and provoke critical inquiry."  This should be a goal of education in Wisconsin.