In “Banned Books Week Is Just Hype” (Townhall , September 8, 2011), Jonah Goldberg offers,
To get a sense of how overhyped these sorts of stories are, consider that reported challenges have dropped from 513 in 2008 to 348 last year. The historic norm is a mere 400 to 500 bans or challenges.
Well, there are almost 100,000 public schools in America (98,706 in 2009) educating roughly 50 million students. (There are 33,000 private schools. And some 10,000 public libraries). So if there were, say, 500 parent-driven “bans or challenges” in a given year in public schools, that would mean for every 200 public schools, or every 100,000 students, at least one parent even complained about an age-inappropriate book. What an epidemic!
Banned Books Week pleads for special protection for those books that represent the leading edge of where the establishment wants to go next, not for intellectual freedom in general. These friends of books never focus on bans initiated by the (true) establishment.
That is, the same “ballistics experts” who would declare war over the removal from a school library of a “sensitive portrayal of a minor-attracted man” (= a pedophile) would likely consider it their duty to purge the shelves of any book that questioned Darwinism. Or legal abortion, for that matter. It is easy to come up with a list of books such people typically ban – without ever thinking of themselves as banning books.
Attacking books without the bother of reading them
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