Plus: The coup is ongoing
When books get banned or shunned, it makes me want to buy them.
The mayor of Ridgeland, Mississippi just recently cut off funding to the local library, demanding that all "homosexual materials" be removed. This occurred after the library put out a display that included several LGBT-oriented books. The library refused to allow such censorship and raised over $100,000 to remain in operation through the fall.
Once lawyers got involved, the city changed its story and said they were merely looking to renegotiate their contract with the library, thus allowing them to include language in the contract enabling the city to object to books and displays of "adult material", referring to books depicting LGBT individuals.
The entire series of events was triggered by the chairman of the board of a conservative think tank based in Mississippi called the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, who lodged the complaint about the books with the Ridgeland mayor. What I find remarkable is that if they had demanded that the library remove all books depicting African-Americans, the law would be clear on the legality of such a request. But somehow the same standard doesn't apply to LGBT individuals.
Banning books seems so old fashioned. It's ridiculous to ban classics for being racist when it gives us a view of how bad the world had been. And equally ridiculous is banning books because you don't agree with something the author says or believes.
Here is a true story. I read a book that was one of the most beautifully written books I ever read. Not just the subject, which was creativity, but the language was exquisite. I didn't recognize the author by her name which was a common one. A friend then told me who she was, and it turned out to be someone I not only knew but hated. She was one of the most obnoxious, loud mouth, nasty people I'd ever met. I was shocked because knowing this was the author of this gorgeous book did not make me like her or dislike the book. I don't know what that has to do with book banning or author banning, but if you enjoy a book it does not mean you have to enjoy the author. I also heard Mother Teresa was a nasty old woman who belittled and criticized people constantly. Does that make her good works with orphans any less?
Slow down. Quit reacting to the reacting to the reacting. Maybe people need to read some more books instead of just reacting to them.
People on these threads need to stop bashing Charlie and everyone for criticizing the left when it is deserved. I'm a (moderate) progressive, and though I sometimes disagree with Charlie's "tough love for our Progressive friends" moments, I'm absolutely grateful for them.
This is one of the few online political sites that hasn't been arguably compromised by audience capture, and we need to ensure it stays that way. I don't want the Bulwark to become the leftist version of "Common Sense with Bari Weiss", where it ends up being such comfort food for those of us on the left that we have to worry they're afraid to alienate us by pointing out some of the obvious problems with progressive illiberalism and overreach.
If you want unmitigated criticism of the right, along with the convenient swatting away of any criticism of the left as an overwrought Republican talking point (all served up with a generous helping of toxic progressive cliches about "whiteness", "colonialism", and "violent speech"), there are plenty of places for that. This isn't one of them.
Outstanding piece from Jim about Steve King...the last paragraph is brilliant!
Why are we celebrating the substitution of adjudication for legislation? Is this a conservative ideal? Unqualified lame duck Trump lifetime appointment overrides CDC. Yay?
Why is it so hard for adults to wear a surgical mask on an airplane to protect an infant or toddler too young to wear one? It is too much to ask of people to protect youngest children on an airplane just in case?
I am trying to understand why a people and party who care so much about families and children and commerce are so obsessed with comfort that they would risk a child’s well being.
Still trying to understand the conservative viewpoint. Failing.
On the whole speech is violence thing:
Speech IS often a form of violence or aggression. Them are fightin' words. We often use speech as a form of violence and oppression/suppression because we are not free to use actual violence.
Words are used with the intention to harm. While you may not bleed on the outside and no bones were broken, you were harmed--and that harm can be far more reaching and difficult to overcome than bruises or cuts or broken bones. I see the harm that words do every day and this has become ever more prevalent in the age of social media.
And that harm can become pervasive if others take up the idea and act upon the words in various ways... especially if they get government support.
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me is a foolish children's rhyme, without actual foundation in reality.
Words are often the harbinger and signal for physical violence.
What bothers me about the trandsgender dispute is that both takes could be true: that inter-sex and gender disphoria are real as a heart attack AND that there is a bit of a fad regarding them. I hope we can trust the doctors to sort things out.
In GA, the latest Landmark poll shows my treasonous Congressman Jody Hice leads Brad Raffensperger 35-18% ahead of next month's Republican primary. No chance on the SOS letting Democrats win NEXT time.
I thought Stephen King had the best take - and the best advice - on book banning. He said this as both an author who's had books of his banned and as a former teacher:
“Censorship and the suppression of reading materials are rarely about family values and almost always about control, about who is snapping the whip, who is saying no, and who is saying go. Censorship's bottom line is this: if the novel Christine offends me, I don't want just to make sure it's kept from my kid; I want to make sure it's kept from your kid, as well, and all the kids. This bit of intellectual arrogance, undemocratic and as old as time, is best expressed this way: "If it's bad for me and my family, it's bad for everyone's family."
Yet when books are run out of school classrooms and even out of school libraries as a result of this idea, I'm never much disturbed not as a citizen, not as a writer, not even as a schoolteacher . . . which I used to be. What I tell kids is, Don't get mad, get even. Don't spend time waving signs or carrying petitions around the neighborhood. Instead, run, don't walk, to the nearest nonschool library or to the local bookstore and get whatever it was that they banned. Read whatever they're trying to keep out of your eyes and your brain, because that's exactly what you need to know.”
Re. Book banning, the caveat at the end notwithstanding, lazy analysis I think. & it a recurring theme here. More or less equal space and weight given to the right and far left, even when one side uses the government/judiciary/legislative bodies to force their way and the other side often has individuals/private entities or "minor" leaders (the Squad for e.g.) calling for some extreme measure (which is almost always rejected by the lefty leaders who actually matter). Straight out of the right-wing playbook. Use a shade of grey from the other side to excuse/justify their much darker positions. No nuance.
Every time I see a "free speech" debate in the news or media, it's always at least partially wrong about what "free speech" is. The "Law and Order" party is saying they want the government to regulate speech, apparently without irony, which IS a violation of free speech. But as many people over and over have pointed out, free speech doesn't apply to private businesses. So, if your privately-owned bookstore doesn't want to stock the Very Hungry Caterpillar, they don't have to. I actually understand the liberal outrage--some ideas are dangerous in the public square and it'd be better for certain segments of the population if they weren't out there--but not one bit the conservative outrage, especially since they're the ones in the media complaining about being "canceled," which has many times erroneously been compared to losing one's right to free speech.
Speech has consequences...
Repeat it after me and remember it: Speech has consequences.
The role of the private sphere is to provide those consequences... whether through counter-speech or shunning or economic sanctions. This is part of the battle of the "marketplace of ideas." It has always been how these battles are decided. Not on the merits of the ideas, not on actual argumentation, but on how popular the idea is and the actions (of various types) used to advance the idea.
And we have turned this into a bad thing, in search of political advantage.
Any private entity (corporate or personal) has the right (within the limits of existing law) of attaching consequences to speech and ideas they do not like. It is only right and proper (within the "marketplace" concept) that they should be free to do so and that they actually do so.
The First Amendment does not apply, except to protect the right of these private entities to do what they are doing (and the right of their foes to act in relation to that, again within the limit of the law).
There is a difference between a bookstore and a library. Between a public school and a private school, between actual public speech on a public forum and speech on a private forum (which is what Twitter and Facebook, et al actually are). They are NOT "town squares" as much as they might want to appear to be one.
Using your economic choices and your own speech to combat what you find offensive or wrong is one thing. Using government power to do so is QUITE another thing, regardless of what you feel your justification is.
Too many people want consequence free speech. That's not how it works. It has NEVER worked that way.
It is in the consequences of the speech--and how they play out, the decides the battle.
How do you compare private book stores refusing to sell certain books to this 👇?
“ Until further notice, teachers in the area will not be able to include on their curriculum Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Theodore Taylor's The Cay and Mildred D. Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.”
The bookstores are willing to take a financial hit for their right to not stock books they choose, while Rs suffer no consequences for these actions at publicly-supported institutions.
Charlie WHINES about objection to bothsidesism but it’s not that. It’s that he actually equates removal of books from public libraries and schools to private businesses electing not to carry an author’s books (something they decide every day). What bookstores exist that carry every single authors’ books? No matter the reason. Surely the libraries will carry it?
“Don't join the book burners. Don't think you're going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don't be afraid to go in your library and read every book...”
― Dwight D. Eisenhower