Ross: Can anybody really ban a book?

Oct 20, 2023, 8:11 AM

book ban...

For all the talk about banning books, Dave Ross says he's never had any trouble getting any book he wants. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

I subscribe to a conservative newsletter called The Dispatch, which is edited by Jonah Goldberg, who I thought made an excellent point worth sharing. And his point was, why do liberal groups seem to get so upset about banning books?

He was commenting on the outrage over a Florida school banning Amanda Gorman’s book “The Hill We Climb” which was removed from a grade school reading shelf after a parent complained. On the official complaint form, the parent gave as the reason (quote): “Is not educational and have indirectly hate messages.” And it pointed to a poem on page 12 of the book.

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So, the school moved the book to a restricted area, and suddenly the news feeds are proclaiming another book ban.

But as Goldberg points out in his piece – putting the book on a different shelf isn’t really a ban.

Yes, it’s an overreaction to a single complaint, and it’s dumb – but it’s not a ban.

And I think he makes a good point.

Because if you Google the offending lines on page 12 on the book, you get close to 60,000 results. All of which point to Amanda Gorman’s poem and the lines:

“Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed

A nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.”

(If that banned quote set your ears on fire or shocked your children, I’m sorry. I’ll have that part cut from the podcast. But even then, you’ll still be able to read the poem.)

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My own bias here is that we are a book family. Our book collection is in the thousands, we’re within walking distance of a library which features displays of banned books, we own a Nancy Pearl Action Figure; and we even have a mug that reveals the names of banned books when you pour a hot liquid into it.

And for all the talk about banning books, we’ve never had any trouble getting any book we want. When we do have trouble getting a banned book it’s because the ban guarantees all the physical copies will be snapped up.

I suspect that’s the real reason for the outrage over book bans – the best way to undermine a book ban is to get it in the headlines.

Because nothing is so compelling as that which is forbidden.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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