By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist
It was a book that introduced the term “catch-22” into modern American vocabulary. The 1961 novel by Joseph Heller satirizes a bureaucratic loop that prevented a military member from requesting a psychological assessment because, according to the catch-22 rule, the simple act of asking proved he did not need it. Merriam-Webster defines as “a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem”.
Heller’s novel is touted by the American Library Association (ALA) among the famous “forbidden books”. However, it was only temporarily banned from one library in Strongsville, Ohio out of a total of 116,867 US libraries. The real irony is that a “catch-22” is precisely what prevents an open and honest discussion of civic responsibility in libraries across America.
Forbidden Book Week is a propaganda campaign invented in 1982 by a collusion of the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association and the National Association of College Stores. Each year in the last week of September, it provides a platform for libraries to treat parents’ concerns with contempt. This is how it works.
Step 1: Woke school administrators to Burbank Unified School District (CA) removed three American classics (“Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain and “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee “) from a list of required reading in the English curriculum High School. Despite a million other books not on this list, this decision provided the pretext for the ALA to label the books as “censored.”
Step 2: ALA’s “Intellectual Freedom Office” (OIF) used the dubious claim to include two of them on their “”Top 10 #List of Forbidden Books. “Despite its official sounding name, the OIF list has no science behind it. Rather, it is a false classification developed by activists seeking complaints from” “librarians and teachersWhile ignoring parents’ concerns. The simple request to move a book from the children’s section to the adult section of the same library is considered a censorship “challenge”.
Step 3: The same OIF carefully selects eight other books to complete the “Top 10” list. Above all, these serve the waking agenda and raise legitimate objections among parents. The goal is to move the Overton window by associating examples of awakened orthodoxy with American classics. However, they are careful to omit the most flagrant violators of the standards of decency from the list.
While these more pornographic books are excluded from the ALA’s annual list, they are not excluded from the children’s section of your local library. Thus, the ALA annual list is designed to distract the public from the worst books by drawing attention to the worst.
Consider three books omitted from this year’s list. Anyone unable to see why parents should object to the open posting of “I do it, “The V-word,” and “This book is gay, “in the children’s section of a library has nothing to do with our children. Despite what progressive ideologues will tell you, it has nothing to do with ‘gender identity’ and everything to do with l exposure of children of both sexes to inappropriate sexual content.
Unless you read the aforementioned headlines on your own, you probably won’t believe what unsuspecting children may come across in your local library. These titles would be perfectly at home in the crappy “Adult Book Store”. Who but the most jaded parents would dream of a library displaying them at eye level with your average seven-year-old?
This brings us to the real catch-22: The pornographic language and images found in the children’s section of American libraries are so over the top that the examples cannot be printed in any respectable newspaper. This is the very definition of catch-22. The public needs to know the extent of the problem. But full disclosure is “denied by some circumstance inherent in the problem.”
Thus, parental concerns are censored from the public out of sheer decorum and decency. Corn this same decency does not hold back librarians exposing even the youngest children to indecent content. Through attractive, kid-friendly displays, they invite curious children to read what your local newspaper editor is ashamed to print. No exaggeration, “Doing It” was beautifully presented in the children’s section of my local library in Kemmerer. More recently, the general manager of the Campbell County Public Library has attract national attention for refusing to budge even the most obscene children’s section titles.
So what should a citizen do? First of all, educate yourself. Under the radar, virtually every county and school district library in America indecently exposes children to explicit content. Concerned citizens should search the card catalog for books of a sexual nature or otherwise objectionable. Be sure to cover libraries in your local school system as well. Work with others in the community to share the workload.
Second, go see the administrators and discuss your findings. Look for a solution that first and foremost protects the children of the community. At the very least, sexually objectionable books should not be displayed at eye level with children wandering past book racks. Better yet, move them to the adult part of the library. Parents who really want their children to read them can find them there.
Third, learn about the library’s policies and whether they are followed. Otherwise, file a complaint. If the policy itself is inadequate, take the matter to the appropriate supervisory board, either the school board or the library board. Schools and counties are not responsible to the American Library Association. They are accountable to the voters. Sadly, the ALA has abused the public trust and squandered any credibility it once enjoyed.
Finally, remember that parents are not the only ones with a duty to make public libraries safe for children. The whole community shares the duty of creating safe spaces. Parents, grandparents and those who have no connection with the children of the community other than the desire to see them flourish all have a legitimate concern. Don’t shut up because you don’t have children in the school system. Don’t allow libraries to censor your concerns out of fanaticism or elitism.
Children need and deserve the protection of every member of the public. This is why public libraries exist in the first place.