Thursday, October 04, 2007

Banned Books Crock

Across America, libraries are promoting "Banned Books Week". This comes complete with lots of blather about free speech and censorship.

But the truth is that none of the books in question have been banned. It would certainly be wrong for the government to prevent people from buying or reading books. But that hasn't happened. The actual issue is what books appear in government (public) libraries.

Government spends taxpayers' money to buy the books that stock library shelves. Librarians choose which books will appear on the library shelves. Librarians also choose which books to remove from the shelves to make room for more books.

Occasionally, someone will complain about the choices that librarians have made. Then, the librarians will gleefully alert whoever runs banned books week, and another book is added to the list. The book in question need not ever even have been removed from a library to be counted as "banned".

To be sure, there are some cranks who complain about classics like Huckleberry Finn because it uses now-offensive language that was common at the time. But that does not mean that no complaints have merit.

Libraries spend taxpayer money. Taxpayers have every right to criticize their choices. This is fundamental to democracy. But the librarians believe that only they should have any say in what appears in libraries. Any criticism is smeared as censorship.

What if other branches of government tried this? Could there be a "banned bridges week" to attack anyone who criticized a road project? How about a "banned borders week" for anyone who criticized immigration enforcement?

The Kalamazoo Public Library is cosponsoring the week with the local chapter of the ACLU. They have sent out a mailing and run radio ads promoting the ACLU. Who paid for this?

The ACLU was created in 1920 by Roger Baldwin with the goal of advancing communism in America. It defended communists and subversives in the name of protecting civil liberties. When communism went out of fashion on the left, the ACLU dropped overt communist ties, but continued its goal of subverting America.

The Kalamazoo Public Libraries are closely tied to the ACLU. The groups have cosponsored several events together.

Promoting reading is a worthy goal, but lying and smearing critics is mendacious.

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