December 18, 2021

Leonard Pitts Jr.: What’s one more deadly school shooting when the real danger to kids is a book?

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At the Miami Herald, Leonard Pitts Jr. questions the priorities of some legislators.

Once again, carnage goes to school. Once again, American students are used for target practice. But conservative leaders are on the case. Recognizing the ongoing threat to our children, they know it’s time for decisive action.

It’s time to do something about books.

And if you expected that sentence to end differently, you haven’t been paying attention. In red America these days, books are Public Enemy No. 1.

As Time magazine recently reported, librarians are seeing a definite spike in censorship activity. Deborah Caldwell-Stone, executive director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, called it “an unprecedented volume of challenges.” From Texas to South Carolina, to Virginia to Florida and beyond, conservative governors and advocacy groups are removing books from school library shelves, particularly those that deal with the two subjects they find most threatening: sexuality and race.

All to protect our children.

You may say that makes no sense. You may look at what happened last week at a high school in Oxford, Michigan — four students killed, six more and a teacher wounded — and say that what we need to protect our children from is the fact that any troubled classmate can too easily obtain a weapon of mass destruction with which to work through his teenage angst. But on that subject, those same governors and advocacy groups will give you only loud silence.

In their world, a mass shooting is just a natural phenomenon, unpleasant, but unavoidable, like rain. Would you try to ban clouds?

No, from where they sit, the gravest threat facing our children stems not from bullets but from books, and they won’t rest until the scourge of knowledge has been defeated. Which is to logic what a funhouse mirror is to one’s actual appearance: a reality hopelessly distorted.

We live in a world where students huddle under their desks in active-shooter drills, but conservatives are concerned that learning about race might make them uncomfortable. A world where children have PTSD from seeing friends slaughtered, but conservatives fear that reading about sex might expose them to things they’re not yet ready for. A world where kids go to school with bulletproof backpacks, but conservatives think books have gotten way out of hand.

Read the rest of this hard-hitting editorial here.

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