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Book Bans Need to Stop

Updated: Mar 15

Recently, the United States has seen a meteoric rise in book bans. PEN America has documented almost 6,000 book bans across the country in the past two years alone. At least 1,200 books have been permanently removed from school libraries.


I find all of these bans to be extremely concerning. They stem from state-level, political meddling into what children can and can’t read and discover. This sets an exceedingly dangerous precedent.


For one, book bans violate the American constitutional right to free speech, preventing people from freely digesting material. The current prohibitions we see seem to work around this by making bans “temporary,” or legitimizing them on the grounds that certain books are inappropriate for children.


Determining what material is and isn’t appropriate for children is important, but this should be the job of the teacher or the parent. For state governments to intervene and remove content entirely, they are trending towards a slippery slope: the political manipulation of facts and information in education.


The tenets of our Bill of Rights are perhaps the most salient in our entire Constitution. Any action that violates these rights must be taken with the utmost seriousness.


Additionally, book bans hinder citizens’ access to public information. These bans on children’s novels and other materials have spread from state to state. If particular people are put in Congress, what’s to stop them from capitalizing on these state movements and implementing national book bans, regardless of location or what religious or political ideologies individuals and communities subscribe to?


These recent changes in the publishing and education sectors are extremely ironic. Looking through our history, America has held personal freedoms in the highest regard. There have been scares and protests fighting for democracy, reaching their goals through hard-won battles. And now here we are, enacting book bans.


Although it may sound hyperbolic, when I hear the phrase “book bans,” my mind immediately jumps to the atrocities of Nazi Germany, where Hitler’s Third Reich removed and destroyed any titles contrary to their message and teachings. Whether it’s probable or not, I can’t shake the gnawing worry that America will backslide into an authoritarian regime where robust book bans become the sociopolitical norm.


All in all, these bans need to be put to an end. I am not certain if there is an end in sight, but politicians from both sides of the aisle must come together to realize that this is in no way, shape or form an acceptable way to address concerns about adolescent education and indoctrination.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.


Sources


“School Book Bans: The Mounting Pressure to Censor.” PEN America, https://pen.org/report/book-bans-pressure-to-censor/. Accessed 22 Sept. 2023. 


Smith, Tovia. “School Book Bans Show No Signs of Slowing, New PEN America Report Finds.” NPR, NPR, 21 Sept. 2023, www.npr.org/2023/09/21/1200725104/book-bans-school-pen-america.

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