I’m With The Banned.

Nashville Public Library card.

Some people say “You can’t fix stupid.” Well, you can. You can educate yourself, challenge yourself to think critically, and, most importantly, read. Of course there are people, a lot of them politicians, who’d like you to stay stupid which is why they support banning books. Take Tennessee’s governor Bill Lee, who loves the poorly educated which is why he’s pushing to lower education standards and is in favor of banning books. Of course Governor Lee was born into a wealthy family and, while he could have chosen to work, he’s been able to afford to be lazy and stupid his entire life. Earlier this year he called for “a new law that will ensure parents know what materials are available to students in their libraries”. Since Governor Lee isn’t interested in libraries he doesn’t realize there’s already a way to find out what materials libraries make available: it’s called a library catalog.

A Tennessee school board also made headlines earlier this year when they banned Maus, the graphic novel about the Holocaust by Art Spiegelman. School board officials complained about the book’s “disturbing imagery”, although at least one admitted he hadn’t read the book, only “reviews”.

This happened at the same time Tennessee’s religious adoption law was used to deny a couple the right to adopt a child solely because they’re Jewish. That’s not an exaggeration of misrepresentation. It’s the only reason the adoption agency they went to considered them unfit to be parents.It’s also not a coincidence. Once you start banning books it’s a short step to banning people.

At least libraries in Tennessee and other states are fighting back against book bans in spite of threats from Tennessee legislators who are calling for burning books instead of reading them. I’m proud to be part of that fight. I can’t–and won’t–dictate what other people read. I can’t make anyone think critically if they don’t want to. But I choose not to let them drag me and others down with them. Some of us choose not to be stupid.

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9 Comments

  1. M.L. James

    Chris,

    What are we without freedom of ideas and the ability to express ourselves? What are we without the power to fight injustices? In my humble opinion, people are too busy telling other people who, what and how to think and do and be…through legislation of all things! As if.

    All I know is if you want to get people to read a book that they may not have given a second thought about, ban it.

    Of course, there are people who literally brag that they don’t read and don’t like to read and refuse to read. Also, there are people who are more interested in following whatever someone tells them to follow, too. It takes work thinking for oneself, and it’s risky if you have an opposing view to the group you happen to belong (not all groups are like this, but there are a lot!) I’d speculate that most groups tend to like and fight to keep homogeny within their membership. Not all, but a lot. And groups come in all shapes and sizes and forms and so, many don’t even know they belong to a particular group when they do! And I just read (don’t remember where) that “rage” can be addictive and…there’s plenty to be outraged about…

    There’s a lot of fodder right now for social psychologists who want to study the masses. I know that some people just want to be part of…whatever they’re told to be a part of! I know a few people like that. Some of them are very sweet and I like them, sooo…it makes life more complicated for me…and I try (very hard) not to get into political discussions with them because they have a right to believe and express whatever they want to believe. So there’s that.

    Ditto about people perking up and looking into things they wouldn’t normally care one way or another about but for the fact that something’s been banned or canceled; that intrigues them. Controversy, these days? Maybe it will spark interest or maybe not. When there’s real drama though? Extreme drama? That seems to attract some like bugs to a bright light.

    We definitely live in interesting times, eh?

    By the way, my therapist and I had a discussion a long time ago because I was a whistleblower at my job and…well, the situation and I was a mess. I live in Texas, which is an “At Will” state. That means if you work somewhere that you don’t like and it turns out you find that the company/your employer is taking chances with employees and others’ lives? Unless you have federal protection, you quit and find yourself a different job. Period. Even if you have federal protection, though, that company will find a way to get rid of you once things have settled down. Of course the employer also has the right to let you go without notice and without a reason if you aren’t a whistleblower just as you, the employee, has the right to quit without notice or reason. And you’d better be careful with how much you spill about that job/your employer, too. If you, as an employee or former employee, say too much and that causes that employer to lose business, clients, etc., (it doesn’t matter if what you say is true…guess what? That business/employer has a right to come after you and sue the you-know-what out of you. They have the right to utterly ruin your life for speaking the truth! (That was what was threatened to me if I opened my mouth and told anyone about what was going on.) Fun times.

    What I found out about Texas’s judicial system is that they aren’t interested in right or wrong…what they’re interested in is “stability.” They don’t want anyone going around and changing laws through the judicial system…that’s for damned sure! Any upstart attorney that thinks they’re willing to take on that system will soon find themselves without the right to practice law in Texas, too. Trust me…I encountered this through my own attorney and a few other attorneys I considered hiring! They were all too worried about maintaining their status quo as a practicing attorney to do anything about my situation even though each one said it truly sucked what I was going through and they wished me luck.

    Anyway, my therapist explained that he went through something similar and how it was explained to him by his attorney about how things worked in Texas…about this desire at all costs to maintain stability on the legal front, right and wrong be damned…again, at least in Texas.

    When you wrote that the TN governor is interested in lowering standards of education, presumably, to maintain the status quo of the poorly educated, that reminded me of what I went through in my own fight…against what would, ultimately, amount to fighting a windmill, and that also cost me thousands of dollars (and at present I wish I had that money back!) Speculation on my part, but I suppose it is easier (?) to govern the masses or employ the masses (at some companies) when they’re uneducated, are more likely to participate in group think (be a part of the TEAM!), not willing to fight injustice or are forced to take on a David and Goliath battle to right a wrong, I guess. It doesn’t make it right…just easier for those in power and who have the gold.

    Who has the money and time to fix that? (I might if I ever win the lottery…or not. I’m tired these days!) That may be one reason I haven’t won, though…besides the fact that I rarely play. The Universe/God may be protecting me from myself! Ha! I dunno. I never trusted my peers in high school and worried that my generation would make things worse as we aged, especially those who went into government. Now that I’m into my mid 50’s, I think I was onto something.

    Good for you for taking on the fight against banned books! It’s ongoing, but an important and necessary fight! Just don’t let it give you hives, my friend. I’m still fighting that little by-product from all of my years of fighting and struggle against one thing or another. Also, thanks for letting me vent a little with my too long response. Sorry about that. You got my dander up, my friend! Great post, Chris!

    Hugs, Mona
    M.L. James recently posted…ZappedMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Mona, wow, this was fantastic. Thank you so much not just for your response but also your efforts in continuing to fight. We’re not just tilting at windmills either.

      Reply
  2. M.L. James

    Also, Chris, holy cow! Didn’t realize how long the above was. I’d just taken my Vyvanse for my ADHD and, apparently, it kicked in when I was writing this. Sorry. Mona

    Reply
  3. mydangblog

    It seems like the States is determined to roll back the clock to the Dark Ages–I don’t know how you stand it. Keep fighting the good fight because the only way you can fix stupid is with education, and that comes from books, and teachers teaching them.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Just this week I feel like things have gone from bad to worse but, at the risk of descending into cliches, I remember Mr. Rogers and how he encouraged us to look for the helpers. Well, there are a lot of people who are doing their best to help, and that does give me hope.

      Reply
  4. markbialczak

    We library people must keep fighting the keep the books on the shelf fight, Chris.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Indeed we must, Mark. I’m glad you’re part of the fight and even though I don’t work for a public library I’m supporting the ones in my community.

      Reply
  5. ANN J KOPLOW

    I’m with you, Chris, and there are a lot of us.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I hope we have enough numbers, Ann, I really do.

      Reply

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