November 30, 2022

Edward Protzel: Banning books is a step away from burning them, as Germans did

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Ed Protzel writes historical fiction and thrillers. In an op-ed for the St. Lousi Post-Dispatch, he has some harsh words for a proposed Missouri bill attacking the public’s right to read.

The bill would empower the state to cut off funding to already budget-constrained libraries and schools to, in effect, force them to ban certain books. Indeed, right now, many critically acclaimed books are currently banned from Missouri libraries without any written justification or mechanism in place to appeal those decisions.

The bill also threatens legal penalties against our hard-pressed librarians, underpaid and underappreciated for their dedicated sacrifice, who must, against their better judgment, knuckle under to politically motivated demands. Now that’s workplace intimidation.

That begs the question: Who has the omniscient wisdom to decide which books we, the public, cannot read? Some elected — or, worse, appointed — bureaucrat? The mobs inspired by self-serving politicians and right-wing media who shout threats against local officials, librarians and their families? American heroes fought and died to protect our greatest treasure — freedom of thought — which includes our ability to make our own reading decisions.

With schools and libraries fearing a funding cutoff and librarians fearing what, arrest? A fine? The loudest, most angry groups can force banning any book that strikes their fancy, taking away communities’ choices. I don’t believe that’s what Missourians want: the unlettered, motivated by hate-pushing politicians, directing the dedicated professionals to determine which books —and which ideas — belong on our library shelves.

He has much more to say on his way to this final paragraph.

America’s great success is based on crazy ideas like equality and freedom, ideas that were unpopular at the time of our founding and remain barred by every narcissistic autocrat in the world. Missourians must not let a hysterical mob, driven by a rapacious media and power-hungry demagogues, tear down our tolerance for unfashionable views.

Read the full op-ed here. 


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