Books and Hypocrisy in America: One father's unique perspective

books

 

The image above (also linked to here) has been making the social media rounds lately.

Not much to say about it other than “I agree.” It reminds me of a documentary the Beloved and I have been watching on Netflix this week about a man who left the Neo-Nazi community and is trying to start his life over again. One of the things that disillusioned him about that community was the hypocrisy—the leaders would preach that they were doing whatever they did “for the children,” but the rate of domestic violence in that community was staggeringly high. What this picture is trying to illustrate is that same hypocrisy.

For another perspective on this same topic, author John Scalzi recently answered a reader question on whether he has ever taken a book away from his daughter, and “what guides [his] parental choices on book selection?”

His answer?

When Athena was an infant I would take books away from her so they would not be unduly chewed upon. Otherwise, no. The rule of thumb in the Scalzi household has always been that if you can reach it, you can read it, and we don’t have very many books in the house that can’t be reached, frankly.

He adds that the offer comes with the addendum that she is free to discuss anything she reads with her parents at any time. But he also says that, even bigger than the “books which may be inappropriate” threat is the “books which are crap” one, and he’s has to bite his tongue about some of YA literature’s trashier offerings. Still, he points out that his daughter seems to have turned out just fine, and has benefited from both the knowledge she’s gained from reading widely anything she pleases, and from the way it ‘demystified’ the adult world for her.

I’d love to see the book collection at the Scalzi home. I bet he has some cool stuff.

3 Comments on Books and Hypocrisy in America: One father's unique perspective

  1. Pretty sleazy of you to interject anti-2nd Amendment propaganda into a purported discussion of censorship. But as long as you’re supposedly discussing book censorship why not address the USPS’ long history of banning the mailorder sale of books which conflict with medical orthodoxy. For example, the nutrition book “Stale Food v. Fresh Food” which advocated natural foods as a way of preventing hardening of the arteries.

    Or how about addressing a more recent censorship issue; attempts to ban books which are critical of Islamic terrorism. The methods include pressure on libraries and schools, threats of violence, and even lawsuits.

  2. Oy, our new commenter is a gun nut, an Islamophobe, and a nutritional conspiracist. Not the usual fare here.

    I looked up the nutrition book mentioned. It was published in 1971 and banned in 1982 (thirty-one years ago!) because it advised readers to treat themselves and avoid doctors. I’m not sure that it would be banned in these more freewheeling times. The book is available as a free download.

    If advocating the consumption of fresh food were a crime, Michelle Obama would be in jail :) — along with Alice Waters and millions of foodies.

    As for the “banning” of some unnamed anti-Muslim books … hard to tell what this means without the book titles. There are certainly some Islamophobic rants I wouldn’t want to see displayed at the public library. That doesn’t mean that they couldn’t be purchased or downloaded otherwise.

    What *should* be available at the public library? That’s a hard question. Years ago, I found a copy of The Turner Diaries on the honor-back rack at the local branch, filed as science fiction. After I read the first genocidal chapter, I returned it to the library and asked them to withdraw it from circulation, which they did. Censorship? Dunno. I did know that in a state that is minority white (Hawai’i), a book advocating the massacre of Jews, gays, and all non-whites would outrage the vast majority of library patrons. Perhaps the library should put books like that in a special section (advocates genocide) so that you would know what you were getting. I was certainly surprised by the supposed science fiction novel I had found at the library.

  3. This image would be more powerful if “Little Red Riding Hood” was, in fact, “banned in America.” Yet the U.S. federal government has no more power to ban that book than it does to ban guns thanks to the First Amendment. It looks like the image is referring to this (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/marketing/a-canadian-agency-recruits-little-red-riding-hood-for-us-gun-control/article11214442/):

    “In 1990, the book was pulled from schools in parts of California, over objections by some that it showed alcohol in a favourable light. The little girl in the story brings wine to her sick grandmother, to restore her spirits.”

    If we’re doing an apples-to-apples comparison, though, guns are also banned in schools.

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