As parents continue the fight to have a say in what books their children are exposed to at school, ABC’s Roseanne spinoff The Conners dedicated 30 minutes to denigrating such rights. One character goes so far as to call a school board member who supports the fight a “moron” and an “idiot.”
On Wednesday’s episode, “Book Bans and Guillotine Hands,” Darlene (Sara Gilbert) wants to make a good impression on her new neighbors and decides to place a free lending library filled with books in front of her new house for them to enjoy.
The topic of books leads Darlene’s daughter Harris (Emma Kenney) to complain about a school board member she heard about in her “human rights” group on Instagram:
Darlene: I’ve already taken the first step at getting in good with the new neighbors. I put up this small lending library box in front of the new house with free books that people can take.
Harris: Well, that may be the last place people can get books they actually want. I follow this human rights group on Instagram, and the moron who represents us on the school board is trying to ban a bunch of the classics at Mark's school.
Dan: I don't like book banning, but some parents just want to have a say in what their kids are reading. Personally, I've always thought that kind of parenting got in the way of my TV time.
Harris: This idiot wants to ban "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Catcher in the Rye," "The Scarlet Letter." I spent my whole day going door-to-door to get people to sign a petition to recall this guy.
Jackie: Yeah, good for you. You get in people's faces! Make 'em uncomfortable!
Harris: Well, we need more volunteers. You wanna help?
Jackie: Uh, me? No. I don’t believe in bothering people at home.
At least they had Dan (John Goodman) state the obvious. But they still proceeded to make it a “book banning” issue when no parents are out fighting to have books banned completely. I’ve also yet to see anyone fighting to ban “the classics.” However, these days if “The Scarlet Letter” or any other classic mentioned were in a kindergarten library, that would be a problem.
Today’s parents are out fighting against books that talk about how to “eat pu**y,” which one parent in Oklahoma spoke out against recently. Others have protested books containing sexual activities, sexual assault, abortion. And hundreds of parents in Michigan spoke out against sexually explicit LGBTQ books.
But Harris believes she’s doing the right thing and even says she can’t help the family decorate because she’s “trying to save democracy" (#eyeroll). Harris becomes more infuriated when a neighbor shows up to complain about the political fliers she’s been sneaking into the books:
Harris: Hi. Uh, can I help you?
Pamela: Hi. I'm Pamela Finch. I live three houses down from where you're building your new home.
Darlene: Oh, hi. That's my house. I'm Darlene. Really nice to meet you, neighbor. Please, come in. And, uh... Just so you know, the new house is gonna be a lot cleaner. And it won't smell like a nursing home...inside a brewery inside an Arby's.
Pamela: That's good to hear. Uh, some of the other neighbors asked me to come over. We have a little issue with the lending library in front of your house.
Darlene: Please don't tell me it's the chimney. 'Cause that would make my husband right, and I can't have that kind of toxic dynamic in my marriage.
Pamela: I've never actually seen a chimney on a library before, but that's not why I'm here. We've been patient with the hammering at night, but now you're using this library to, well, push your politics on the neighborhood.
Darlene: Politics? Oh, are you talking about the vegan cookbook? 'Cause you can bring as much meat as you want to the barbecue. Oh, did I tell you I'm having a barbecue? You're invited.
Pamela: Uh, no. It's about you sticking these flyers in the books that you're putting out. The books that the school board is trying to ban.
Harris: That would be me. I put those in there.
Darlene: You what?
Pamela: Well, we'd like you to take them out.
Harris: Well, we don't care what you want. You can't censor books because you don't agree with the ideas in them.
Darlene: Harris, let me handle this.
Harris: No, it's your lending library and we can put what we want in it. And if you have a problem with it, you could make your own lending library and put as much Ronald Reagan fan fiction in it as you want.
Darlene: Harris, go upstairs. Please. Right now.
Pamela: Thank you, Darlene.
Darlene: Look, my daughter's a very passionate person.
Pamela: Look, I understand. Listen, if you want to make a better first impression with your new neighbors, why don't you get her under control, get rid of all the fliers and the provocative books? Because of her aggressive, radical agenda, I had to take "Lady Chatterley's Lover" away from my 9-year-old.
Pamela sounds like a good mom! But The Conners wants us to believe the opposite. So, Harris confronts her mother about taking Pamela’s side, ranting about her brother and cousin being allowed to stand up for what they believe in while she can’t.
“You told Mark not to hide being gay,” she yells at her mother. “You told Beverly Rose not to hide being smart. I'm standing up for freedom of speech, and you tell me to shut up and go to my room?”
After Darlene explains that she just wants to get along with the neighbors, Harris calls her a sellout and says she should be more concerned what her daughter thinks of her rather than “a bunch of strangers.”
Of course, Darlene comes to her liberal senses and realizes her daughter is right, because of course. She decorates her new front yard with a graveyard of banned books to impress Harris and stand up to the neighbors:
Harris: Don't get excited. I'm not here for you. I'm here for Grandpa.
Darlene: Oh. Aww. I like your costume. You look like somebody who was, uh, unjustly slut-shamed by a Puritan village.
Harris: I'm Hester Prynne.
Ben: Guess what your mom is.
Harris: Uh, well, I think it's just random so she can show us she still fits in her Little League uniform.
Darlene: No. I thought a lot about what you said, and I do care about censorship, and I do care what you think of me, so that's why I am the catcher in the rye.
Harris: Yeah. Well, it's not exactly proactive, but I know you must feel like an idiot in that costume, so that makes me happy.
Darlene: Oh, it gets better. Even though I wanna make a fresh start with my new neighbors, everybody who stops by to trick-or-treat will get the message.
Harris: Thanks, Mom. It's possible I was wrong about you when I was 8.
Darlene: If they ask, it was your idea, and you got it from Pamela Finch three doors down.
“One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t belong.” Did you happen to notice a very non-classic book placed in front with all the real classics? How is Gender Queer a classic when it was published in 2019?
Looks like the writers knew all along this has nothing to do with “the classics,” book banning, or freedom of speech and everything to do with sexually explicit books that are inappropriate for children. Gender Queer is one of the most protested books by parents given its extremely pornographic and pedophilic contents. But The Conners wants us to believe it should be included in a school library?
That alone speaks volumes about this show and its agenda.
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