In my first post about book banning, I used Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” as an example of what can happen when books are banned. In this post, I will examine a case in Florida.
On July 1, 2022, the Florida legislature passed a law known as the “Stop W.O.K.E. Act” (House Bill 7). This law emboldens parents and others to purge schools of material they deem indecent.
It is important to note the definition of indecent can be subjective at times. In other words, what is indecent to one person may or may not be indecent to another.
It can be difficult for school librarians to know which books may find themselves on someone’s hit list. To avoid having to contend with those who would ban books, some teachers have removed their entire classroom libraries.
Author Jodi Picoult, who is a self-described ‘non-practicing Jew’, has had twenty of her books banned in various Florida schools. There is a group that actively seeks to ban certain books from schools. That group is known as ‘Moms for Liberty’.
Any group that seeks to ban books should not refer to themselves as ‘for liberty’. They demand liberty for themselves and those who follow them. They make no allowances for anyone who disagrees with them. When they ban books, they deny others the liberty of reading those books.
In the case of Jodi Picoult, Moms for Liberty was able to get all twenty of her books banned. For my purposes here, I will discuss two such books.
“The Storyteller” is about a descendant of a Holocaust survivor and her interactions with a former Nazi death camp guard.
“Nineteen Minutes” tells the story of a small-town school shooting and the trial that followed. The opening paragraphs include examples of how many things can happen in nineteen minutes.
Antisemitism has been on the rise in recent years both in the U.S. and abroad. Despite the voluminous amount of historical evidence to the contrary, there are people that claim the Holocaust never happened. Jodi Picoult is Jewish. The Watchman cannot help but wonder whether any/all these things played a role in “The Storyteller” being banned.
School shootings have been increasing at a frightening rate here in the U.S. Active shooter drills are commonplace in schools. Some children wear bullet-proof backpacks to school. Though “Nineteen Minutes” is a work of fiction, it can be enlightening for high school students.
Speech, which includes writing, is protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution. Banning books silences the voices of the authors, which is a violation of the First Amendment. If someone does not like a book, they should not have the right to deprive others of reading it.
If the Watchman learns of other major cases of book banning, you can expect another post.
‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (First Amendment to the Constitution)