Liberals are never so alive as when they’re speaking out against anachronistic straw men. That’s why, in their estimation, the Tea Parties are racist lynch mobs and conservatives who wonder about President Obama’s ties to anti-American radicals are sinister McCarthyites.So it’s not surprising that The Huffington Post is making a big deal of “Banned Books Week.” The house organ for the self-important Hollywood left – you know, all those “artists” constantly threatened by censorship – featured a string of articles on various aspects of the banned book topic. The week, according to contributor Jonathon Kim, “celebrates the wonderful freedom of being able to read whatever one likes, and reminding us that it's a freedom that must be fought for constantly.” Kim’s article had to do with a new movie about the 1950s obscenity trial of beat poet Allen Ginsburg’s work, “Howl.” (To their sorrow, an awful lot of English majors know first-hand that Ginsburg won.) Elsewhere, HuffPo linked to a New York Times article that suggested “Ten Ways to Celebrate Banned Books Week.” These are for readers to do “with your students, your children and anyone who believes in having ‘the freedom to read.’”Readers can adopt a “challenged” book (one that parents or civic groups have demanded be removed from school or public libraries). They can “create a map of challenges to demonstrate that book bans and challenges are not isolated phenomena, even in the United States.” (In other words, even parents who don’t live in jerkwater conservative areas care what their kids read.)
The Huffington Post included an article from the head of the liberal American Library Association. “Yes,” warned ALA President Roberta Stevens, “there is still book banning in the United States.”Stevens wrote that there have been 11,000 reported challenges to books in the United States since 1990 – three fourths of them over books on school library shelves. “Unfortunately, losing the right to choose reading materials for ourselves and our families is a reality in the United States,” Stevens wrote. She then gave the example of a book removed “despite community outrage” by a local school board over “the board's views on offensive language and sexual content.” School boards, of course, are elected from among the community, and hear the concerns of parents daily. Still, the liberals at the ALA know best.While HuffPo did feature a link to an article that wondered if some books actually should be banned, the rest toed a typical liberal line. In Stevens’ words, it’s a question of “allowing others to decide for us and our communities which reading materials are appropriate!”It doesn’t matter that asking that a book be removed from a school library is far different from banning it, or that school boards, local library boards and municipal councils who decide such things are usually reflecting the democratic will of parents and local residents. The right to give children dirty books is absolute! And that’s what banned books week is about. For every “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Harry Potter,” there are 10 “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” or “Kissing Kate.” The former was challenged “for its depictions of “homosexuality, sexually explicit, anti-family, offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, drugs, [and] suicide,” the latter “for offensive language and nudity.” The Huffington Post itself has praised teen books that push the gay agenda, and the American Library Association routinely awards gay-themed books.Whatever the Huffington Post and the ALA say, America doesn’t ban books. Concerned parents worry about certain books being where children can access them. Banned Books Week is about the left knocking down a long-dead straw man.