We all know that things are bad when it comes to widespread, targeted book-banning in America. Its a free speech crisis unlike any weve seen in a generation, and follows in this countrys grand tradition of moral panic-as-national pastime.
But did you know that just 11 people are responsible for more than 60 percent of book challenges in the 2021-22 school year?
I strongly urge you to head over to the Washington Post to read this incredible, by-the-numbers deep dive into the alarming rise in book bans over the last couple years. Here are some of the awful highlights:
Nearly half of filings 43 percent targeted titles with LGBTQ characters or themes, while 36 percent targeted titles featuring characters of color or dealing with issues of race and racism.
TRANSLATION: We dont want to hear about you unless youre white and straight.
Many challengers wrote that reading books about LGBTQ people could cause children to alter their sexuality or gender.
TRANSLATION: Books can turn you gay.
Serial filers relied on a network of volunteers gathered together under the aegis of conservative parents groups such as Moms for Liberty.
TRANSLATION: It only takes a few bad actors to corrupt an otherwise open society. This is the Tolerance Paradox at work.
These censorship attacks on books have real-life human impacts that are going to resonate for generations, said John Chrastka, cofounder and executive director of library advocacy group EveryLibrary.
TRANSLATION: The few hateful book-banners dont actually care about the mental well-being of children.
From the 2000s to the early 2010s, LGBTQ books were the targets of between less than 1 and 3 percent of book challenges filed in schools, according to ALA data. That number rose to 16 percent by 2018, 20 percent in 2020 and 45.5 percent in 2022, the most recent year for which data is available.
TRANSLATION: This is a targeted, activist-driven culture war in the absence of any real policy ideas on the right.
If that book was made without the strap-on dildo, Jennifer Pippin (founding chairman of Moms for Liberty) said, that book wouldnt be challenged.
TRANSLATION: Jennifer Pippin will not peg you, no matter how nicely you ask.
This isnt exactly news, but the only conclusion one can draw from the majority of these challenges is that the book-banners live in absolute terror of anyone they know, child or otherwise, somehow turning gay.
As Sarah Kate Ellis, president and chief executive of LGBTQ rights group GLAAD, told the Post, at the heart of these challenges is the idea that, Being gay or transgender is somehow something to avoid.