Monday, June 05, 2023

Utah School District Bans the Bible for “Vulgarity” and “Violence”

by Rod Williams, June 5, 2023- Yes, a Utah school district banned the Bible due to vulgarity and violence. You can read more about it here or from any number of other sources. While I don't want school districts carrying pornographic books or books that promote racial hatred or normalize and promote sexual deviancy, any criteria that prohibits school libraries from carrying books that address certain topics may have consequences that one does not anticipate.  My view is that only the most offensive of books should be banned. Actually, I am not sure that there is that much a problem with school libraries carrying offensive books. If there is, then wise people need to be careful in designing criteria to determine what books are forbidden. 

While on the topic, I do not think "banning" is a useful term when a library chooses to not carry a book.  No library can carry every book. Choices must be made as to which books a library will stock.  Choosing one book rather than another is not "banning."  Nevertheless, choosing to remove a book that is already in a library because some find it offensive is a process that needs careful deliberation. Removing a book should not be an easy process. 

I have previously addressed this issue in the below post:

This obscene book in in every library and school in America

by Rod Williams - If there was a book in school libraries that included stories of polygamy, adultery, seduction, lust, fornication, masturbation, prostitution, pedophilia, ritual genital mutilation, castration, abortion, homosexuality, bestiality, rape, gang rape, incest, teen pregnancy, cannibalism, murder, genocide, witchcraft, torture, suicide, human sacrifice, nudity,  drunkenness, voyeurism, blasphemy, bribery, corruption, eating excrement, drinking urine, and a bunch of other bad stuff, should that book be removed?

Let me give you an example of what is in this book. Here is an excerpt:

She lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose semen was like that of horses (1)

This book was written in a foreign language and the above is the way one translator translated it, another translation says simply, "and lusted after their lovers, whose sexual members were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of stallions." 

If the book is not to be removed from the library, should it be available only to age-appropriate students?  What would be that age?  Should it be on any required reading list? 

If you haven't guessed by now, the book I am referring to is the Holy Bible.

I recognize that there are books being assigned to some school children which may be obscene or pursue a Critical Race Theory agenda to lead impressionable kids to a certain view of their nation and their racial identity. 

I recognize that since a library cannot carry every book published there has to be some system to determine what is placed on library shelves. To select one book and not another is not "banning" or "censorship."  

I believe books should be age-appropriate but not all children mature at the same rate and age-appropriate is not something easy to determine.

I recognize that there is a difference between a book being on a library shelf and being on a required reading list. I am less concerned about what is available than what is required reading.

I am concerned about the mix of reading material.  I don't want to hide the blemishes in American history.  Children should not be shielded from learning about slavery, the history of settling the nation and the conflicts with indigenous people, Indian removal and the Trail of Tears, Jim Crow, the internment of Japanese in WWII and other unsavory historical events that happened. However, the blemishes should be in context. The unsavory parts of our history should not be the main course.  I want children to receive an education that makes them proud to be American.

I am supportive of parents who want to ensure that what is taught in their classroom is no offensive to community values or undermind the parent's values. However, I recognize that community values is hard to determine and parents' values differ. 

I do not trust the teacher's unions or the educational establishment to determine what should be taught in public schools. The public that funds public education should have a say in what is taught in schools. 

Given all of that, however, I think back about my own family background and ask myself if I would have wanted my father to be the one determining what children read, and to what they were exposed in public schools. My father was a good man and very religious. We were raised to believe dice and cards, alcohol consumption, mixed swimming, going to the movies, and dancing were sinful.  If my dad would have been picking the books in the school library or on a reading list, books that included these elements would have been banned. Also, the theory of evolution would not have been taught or made available. Art books with nude pictures or pictures of classical nude statuary would have been banned. I would not have wanted my father to pick the library books. On the other hand, however, I have some woke, politically correct, progressive siblings and I certainly would not want them picking the books or compiling the reading list. 

In some progressive communities books that celebrate the founding fathers who owned slaves have been removed from reading lists and libraries and books that are deemed racially insensitive such as Tom Sawyer or To Kill a Mockingbird have been removed. Also, there has been a tendency to feature fewer classics by "dead white males" for a more diverse reading list. There has been a dumbing down of materials. 

So, what is to be done?  I don't know. It is complicated. I am glad groups like Moms for Liberty are shining a light on what is being taught in our schools and what books are in the school libraries. I am glad our state legislature is paying attention. At the same time, we must not go too far. We don't need to get hysterical over every description of indecency or obscenity or every use of a "bad" word.  We do not want the most narrow-minded nor the most progressive to set the rules or pick the books.  It is complicated.

So, back to my question at the top of this page, should the obscene book described, be removed? 

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