What gets lost in the ‘book ban’ debate

Parental concern over what books are made available to their children in school libraries is largely being framed by media and others on the left as “book banning,” “censorship,” or alleged anti-gay sentiment.

But these mantras distract from the fact that most of the content being called into question is obscene and sexually explicit. This is not about “book banning,” this is about public school libraries having non-age-appropriate books available to children.

It’s baffling that protecting children from explicit material is controversial. America “has always restricted certain kinds of content, and the attendant freedom to engage with it, when it comes to children,” wrote Nate Hochman in the National Review. “Why? Well, because we understand that some things — including some books — aren’t appropriate for children.” Consider, for example, warnings on music, television, and video games, and limited access to movies in theaters. There is a reason television stations have cut away from press conferences on these books when the content is shown.

“…[S]chool districts have a limited budget and capacity for books in their classrooms,” wrote Lance Christensen with the California Policy Center. “Salacious or pornographic material that would not be read in front of our grandmothers or allowed on network television does not belong in the classroom.”

If school districts feel like it’s appropriate for kids to be exposed to raunchy, graphic, or explicit material, they should be prepared for concerned parents who show up at their school board meetings and protest. And when a parent reads an objectionable portion from the book the district has approved, the presiding officer needs to hear them out rather than shutting them down.

Gov. Tim Walz recently made headlines for staging a Little Free Library outside his office at the State Capitol and taking another jab at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with the aforementioned “book banning” mantra, which was not accurate and a distraction from the obscene and sexually explicit books that are available in Minnesota school libraries. (American Experiment made a point of adding some of those books to the Little Free Library and documenting it here.)

“…[L]et’s dial down the temperature and dispense with the narrative that schools are banning books because they don’t house every title from some activist wish list,” concluded Christensen. “If parents want to buy objectionable books for their kids, they are unlikely to encounter any firemen putting out bonfires at their local bookstore.”