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Book 'em, Ronno

Since we're on the subject of the culture wars, let's continue with a look at recent news out of Florida, specifically on the book front. PEN America is an anti-censorship group focused on keeping books of all stripes accessible. The organization just released a list of 176 books that have been pulled from the shelves of schools in one Florida county (Duval), at least temporarily. Here are some of the titles, along with a guess as to what the problem is:

We will just point out two conclusions that emerge from this exercise. The first is that, despite the claims of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) to the contrary, his policies do not leave room for teaching some of the ugly truths of American history. It would be one thing to remove books that are unusually explicit, or gritty, or politically driven. But, for example, if you can't mention racism when telling the stories of Jackie Robinson and Henry Aaron, you can't mention racism anywhere.

The second is that the policy is working exactly as designed. It is not clear how long these books will remain banned for, or when they will return to their respective schools, if they ever do. But the fact is that there is huge risk to educators in leaving a "problem" book on the shelves—they could literally be subject to criminal prosecution (and don't you doubt that DeSantis is looking for a test case to make a show of). On the other hand, there is relatively little direct cost to educators if they yank a book or ten. So, there is enormous incentive to pull any book that isn't tame enough to be made into a Hallmark Channel movie. Too bad for kids who are of color, or gay, or trans, or Jewish/Muslim/Hindu/Buddhist, and who might like a story once in a while where they can see themselves. (Z)

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