The Gross National Debt

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The people who most need to read this, won’t


A survey by the Pew Research Center revealed on average 37 percent of those asked believe dangerous-offensive books should be banned from public school libraries.
From the report-

The question is should “books that contain dangerous ideas should be banned from public school libraries?” The survey states, "Overall there has been only a small decline in the percentage agreeing with this statement. There are no differences in agreement by party. Generation Y, which tends to be liberal on most of the other social values questions, is about as likely to agree with the statement as the Baby Boomers or Generation X. Members of older cohorts have consistently been more likely to agree."

Education does make a difference. "23% of college graduates agree with the statement, compared with 45% of those with some college experience and 60% of those who have a high school education or less. These differences are just as large as they were in 1987, when the question was first asked," states the report.

You can get a link to the survey from the site I link to and DL the PDF file. What the survey does not ask is "What is a dangerous idea?"

If you believe certain books should not be allowed in school libraries because of dangerous ideas, then what should be banned?

I remember in college the general bookstore (not the text book store) sold Playboys. This created some consternation on campus. Having perused the occasional issue of Playboy (as well as occasionally looking at the pictures), I can tell you that the literature content of the men’s magazine is good. Not National Geographic quality, but better than any of the celebrity magazines. You do not have to be an erudite scholar to read Playboy, but if satisfying a prurient interest in what you are after, Playboy is poor choice.

I recall too a while back I was summarily asked to serve on an elementary school library review board.  At issue – a  book of Shel Silverstein’s poems. While I am decidedly NOT a poetry fan (it makes me break out in urges to set fire to the poet’s head – learn to write I want to yell), I can read and enjoy Silverstein in small doses. More to the point, it is the kind of reading that kids absolutely delight in.

The objection at the time was over one of Shel’s toons. It depicted a bare butt. If cartoon characters frequented public beaches, you could see the exact same posterior cleavage because a modern thong exposes the exact same amount of flesh.

I summarily decided the parent objecting to the Silverstein book was a moron. The book stayed in the library.

But these are easy items. Playboy on a college campus – all the students are adults. Silverstein in the school library – a staple read for 3rd and 4th graders.

Let’s get tougher. Walk in to a Baptist Church on Sunday and talk about how your child is reading Harry Potter. Baptists don’t believe in exorcisms, but they just might put one together on the spot for you and your child.

Not that Baptists have a lock on textual stupidity. Pick a denomination and tote a copy of Harry Potter into the sanctuary and the parishioners will expect you to burst into flame at any moment. I just choose Baptist because I used to be one and have family members who attempt to inflict pain and suffering on me because I walk a different path. (Grandma was not one of these. She read Harry Potter, said it was good book for children and watched my brother and cohorts play Dungeons and Dragons. ‘They are using their imaginations,’ she said and left the kitchen.)

Still sophomoric yet. I am tempted to apologize to you for wasting your time, but you see I had to set a stage to build what I present to you know.

Why should a book be banned?

Really? You think that’s a good reason?

No, I cannot absolutely predict how you’d respond to that question, but I can tell you that pretty much whatever you wish to ban is accepted behavior in some human culture somewhere. Yes. I can prove it. Ask any decent anthropologist and he can prove it better than I can.

But that is too easy. Straw men and cardboard castles and all that.

Books are not the issue. It’s the ideas contained with the books that is the real issue. So when you talk about banning a book, you are really interested in banning the ideas contained within that book.

What shall we ban today, O’Brien?

Why should an idea be banned? Well, duh, obviously because you object to it, find it offensive and possibly dangerous.

I’ve beaten that mule enough for a while in other writings, so let’s move along to something else. Get specific. What ideas do you want to ban?

Cannibalism? Infanticide? Aw heck, combine ‘em. Killing babies and eating them. Ban that?  Child abuse? Racism? Miscegenation? Eugenics? Human sacrifice to a deity?

Ban the idea that magic can actually be performed and is not merely sleight of hand and misdirection? Paganistic modes of worship? Blasphemy?

Substance abuse? Torture? Murder? Rape?

Ban explicit sexual information? Incest? Homosexuality? Sexually transmitted diseases? Prostitution? Beastiality?

Slavery? Rebellion? Capital punishment?Anarchy? Mass murder? Serial killing? Kidnapping?

Pick an idea or concept. Wanna ban it?

How about it? Have I hit on anything you think should be banned in libraries? Well, maybe not in adult sections, but how about in children’s libraries? If I didn’t come up with something to ban, did you?

See above list of topics to ban. The specific ones are discussed in The Bible.

What you are doing is not banning an idea but banned a mode of thought, a way of looking at things.

If you decide a topic is dangerous and should be banned in public school libraries, the first book on the list must be religious texts.

Must be. These books discuss, in detail, human nature and cover the gamut of human functions.

You may well say "HEY! I didn't mean it that way! You're taking this too far."

No. I'm starting with the first logical books to be banned.

You set the rules. I'll make sure they are enforced across the board or I will change the rules.

If you started it, I'm gonna finish it or I will change it.

What shall we ban today, O'Brien?


  1. Was thinking the same thing yesterday when I read that a book telling the TRUE story of two male penguins acting as a surrogate family for a baby penguin had made a list of most objectionable books out today.

  2. To me, it all comes down to this; ....."Books are not the issue. It’s the ideas contained with the books that is the real issue."

    Those who read a book and feel that it needs to be banned, are simply seeing a part of themselves which they have locked away at an earlier time. The book becomes the devil which brings the negative personality trait or abnormal social moir to the forefront.

    Go to a meeting of any book club and listen to the differing accounts of the same book as told by those who are reading it.

    A book, a painting, indeed any artistic expression, will evoke myriad different responses from those who view or read it.

    The ideas that people get from reading a book are not the books, but the readers.

  3. Bible to banned?
    1. Please talking first with Mr. Obama about Biblebannet,...
    2. Bible,s Genocide, Rape or Pedophily? This is a normal!
    3. Pedophily or Rape, are a normal Solutions in christ. Society!
    4. 50.000.000 Bibles moore, we have every Year!
    5. We need new Wars, Rape, Killing!
    6. Jolie,s Film: "In the Land of Blood and Honey" (Rapestory!)
    7. But Mrs. Jolie make Biblepropagand in Internet to!
    8. Num.31:17.18. Is a Rapestory! John 10:30.
    9. Mrs Jolie Angela is crime Person!



Hi. I welcome lively debate. Attack the argument. Go after a person in the thread, your comments will not be posted.