Burning books a “right” of passage


Last week, two Virginia school board members called for burning – yes, burning – books in the school library that they deem sexually offensive. This is, of course, the logical direction of the conservative movement to crack down on any school curriculum that does not reflect a right-wing view of the world. And that’s another reason liberals and progressives should reclaim the mantle of free speech that was once an integral part of liberal thought, but has now, alarmingly, fallen into disuse on college campuses. and other liberal strongholds.

As the Spotsylvania County School Board discussed on November 8 the removal from the school library of materials that some parents had objected to seeing as sexually explicit, board member Rabih Abuismail said that was not enough. : “I think we should throw these books into a Fire.” Another board member, Kirk Twigg, made it clear that he wanted to “see the books before we burn them so that we can identify them within our community that we eradicate these bad things “.

It was not clear whether either knew or cared that they were calling for action associated with 1930s German Nazism and other oppressive regimes.

Some of the books in question at school are actually sexually explicit, such as “33 Snowflake,” a critically acclaimed but controversial book about runaway teenage girls. It is reasonable to debate whether a given book is suitable for the age of the pupils. But that’s far from lighting them up like a bunch of modern brown shirts.

As tempting as it is to dismiss the Virginia episode as a clownish self-parody by a few extremists, it only gradually differs from what is happening in the conservative school movement.

It’s not just about sexual material, but about social issues that some are trying to eliminate from the classroom.

Note the hysteria over critical race theory, a subject fanatics condemn without understanding.

The danger when people start talking about deleting even genuinely offensive material is that it never ends there (as the Nazi book burners ultimately demonstrated in Germany).

Twigg, one of two board members who called for the book burning, also wants to broaden the criteria for determining what makes books offensive beyond sexual issues, according to the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star : material we need to pay attention to and review, ”(Twigg) said without giving further details. Anyone who doesn’t find this phrase scary should go back to story class.

The message that even the suggestion to burn books sends to students is far worse than anything they will find in these pages.

Those on the left who have strayed from the path of respecting the free expression of ideas they disagree with should carefully consider where this kind of thinking takes the right – and ask themselves if they really want to be a part of it. .

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