Ban The Banning?

In what seems like a positive move to better the education for our kids, certain Democratic New Jersey lawmakers are hoping to enforce new legislation to ban the banning of books. With the rise in book banning of late (there was a record-breaking 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources across our country last year, nearly doubling what was requested from the year before), bill number S3907 would “prohibit” NJ libraries and school boards from “banning or restricting” readers access to books and resources because of “partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” And according to this new law, libraries, and boards that do not prohibit banning could risk having their state aid cut.

Sounds like a good idea, right?

Well…

First of all, it seems to me we don’t need a law after the fact (amid too much banning already), nor do we need to dole out punishments to those who don’t follow it as much as we might need to talk about why books are being banned, which are, and why. The problem with emotive words like “censorship” or “banning” is that they cause a wide pendulum swing reaction, pro or con, where both sides dig in and often fail to recognize certain facts. And one of these most significant facts is that there needs to be a reasoned approach where certain books should not be made available to a specific age group of kids. As a writer of both erotica and children’s literature, I “self-censor” myself over what I write and what I reveal of that writing to my potential audiences. In other words, the twain doesn’t meet for me where I would ever EVER expose children to my erotica. EVER. As a reasoned person, I would hope our legislators are Democrat or Republican (hey, I can hope, they be reasoned, right?), would take a deep-dive considerations of all materials, events, teachers, visitors, and, yes, books in our school systems to consistently keep our kids safe and not let things escalate to a ban.

Then we’d have no need for yet another law. Then again, coming up with and trying to pass the law gives legislators something to do.

We should also define our terms here. To me, the word banning is simply censorship just after the fact.

As we found just a few months ago, the publishers and estates of two celebrated authors In what seems like a positive move to better the education for our kids, certain Democratic New Jersey lawmakers are hoping to enforce new legislation to ban the banning of books. With the rise in book banning of late (a record-breaking 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources across our country last year, nearly doubled the amount of the year before), bill number S3907 would “prohibit” NJ libraries and school boards from “banning or restricting” readers access to books and resources because of “partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” And according to this new law, libraries, and boards that do not prohibit banning could risk having their state aid cut.

That sounds like a good idea, right?

Well…

First of all, it seems to me we don’t need a law after the fact (amid too much banning already), nor do we need to dole out punishments to those who don’t follow it as much as we might need to talk about why books are being banned, which are, and why. The problem with emotive words like “censorship” or “banning” is that they cause a wide pendulum swing reaction, pro or con, where both sides often fail to see certain facts. And one of these most significant facts is that there needs to be a reasoned approach where certain books should not be made available to a specific age group of kids. As a writer of both erotica and children’s literature, I “self-censor” myself over what I write and what I reveal of that writing to my potential audiences. In other words, the twain doesn’t meet for me where I would ever EVER expose children to my erotica. EVER. As a reasoned person, I would hope our legislators are Democrat or Republican (hey, I can hope, right?), I want deep-dive considerations of all materials, events, teachers, visitors, and, yes, books in our school systems to consistently keep our kids safe and not let things escalate to a ban.

Then we have no need for yet another law.

Then again, coming up with and trying to pass the law gives legislators something to do.

We should also define our terms here. To me, the word banning is simply censorship just after the fact.

As I explored for us a few months ago in this posting, the publishers and estates of two celebrated authors, allowed and or commissioned to have books from those authors changed. Certain words and phrases in the books of Willy Wonka creator Roald Dahl and James Bond’s own Ian Fleming were deemed ‘offensive” (and there’s an emotive word if ever there was one) so the original texts of some of the books written by these men were altered/censored/changed/raped (take your pick of the word that best works for you). Under the guise of the modern-day scourge of presentism, which merely is censorship in a modern form, the books were banned in their own way, well before they were banned.

The meat of the matter here is, there is lots of banning going on well before anyone even gets a chance to steal a copy of Catcher in the Rye from a school library and burn it (oh, the good old days)

Coming off COVID, many of our kids are still not fully integrated into the socialization of education. In fact, I am not sure if a certain generation hasn’t lost too much already (but this is ok; keeping our kids as uneducated as possible but still able to get through twelve grades, we create a new generation that will be all that much more easily led). But I want to keep fighting for those little brains. I want healthy, hearty, and yes, even incendiary debates out, in, around, and about our schools. And I surely I want the full breadth of all the fabulous material that has been produced or is currently coming out to be available to those who seek out and want such things, as it fits the seeker’s maturity level and the constant conversation over what that maturity level might be and how it may or may not be changing.

The last thing I want is yet another law when we might not be exercising the ones already in place or we might not be working hard enough to determine why we may or may not need those laws.

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