As books go up in flames

It is unconscionable that a nation that wants to make amends for the past and live up to its founding principles of tolerance is continuously thwarted in that endeavor. | Kaysea Suzana, PantherNOW

Benz De Marshall Pierre | Staff Writer

Books are the repositories of knowledge and having their future on shelves vulnerable to the caprices of a legislature with illiberal tendencies signals something bad. 

To be clear, books have always been the target of censorship. Beloved novels such as George Orwell’s “1984”, for instance, stands as the most banned book in the world

William Goldin’s “Lord of the Flies”, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” and many more have fallen victim to censorship. All these are cherished novels that the bookish connoisseur is sure to have been immersed in. 

Clearly this is not a novelty – it is then fair to ask why is this now causing a stir? 

It is not a secret that many right-wing extremists see the rising prominence of LGBTQ+ rights as a threat. They would much rather relax gun laws in a state where the evening news is replete with stories of gun violence, and then argue about wanting to protect children by passing strict anti-LGBTQ laws. 

This is a dizzying cognitive dissonance. 

Moreover, it is important to note the political context within which these bans arise. Florida is now the leading cheerleader of the “fight against woke”, a loosely defined phenomenon which sees a string of political acts taken in response to anything the state views as being contrary to its ideals. 

Interestingly, Tallahassee has not concocted a list of books it wishes to see vanished from book shelves; rather, it empowered virtually anyone who objects to them to challenge them through HB 1069 

Because of that, parents whose wrath is incurred by the mere presence of these books, brought multiple complaints for their removal. 

If Tallahassee felt even a morsel of responsibility toward the LGBTQ community and the possible repercussions of its actions, it would have proceeded differently. A board made of independent professionals who are conscious of the sensibility of that issue could have been created and proceeded accordingly. 

Contrary to that, Tallahassee left these books and the larger context they serve to the appetite of parents who ignore the larger impact of their actions. 

Under other circumstances, this kind of democratization of an issue would be applauded by all, but something more sinister lies at the heart of all of this. 

The stated purpose may be to protect children from inappropriate content, but really it’s one more cynical instrument wielded to further a twisted political wet dream. 

None of it is really about protecting children. It is in fact about stuffing us all with culture war content, in hopes of distracting us from other matters. 

It’s in schools that a nation’s future is being strenuously trained in preparation for the responsibilities they will have to shoulder. 

Politicians have understood that and made them the ideal theater where ideological clashes could take place. It’s first in the schools that hearts and minds must be conquered. 

The problem is that it feeds impersonable children with a twisted idea of what constitutes a good society. If parents request that some books be removed from schools, the impression could be that the contents of these books are surely bad. 

It is unconscionable that a nation that wants to make amends for the past and live up to its founding principles of tolerance is continuously thwarted in that endeavor by disgruntled parents.  

Those who lived in the shadows because mainstream society frowned upon their choices, must be recognized to the fullest. 

In every liberal democracy, it is the government’s duty to stand for the alienated, to shield those who may be at risk of being harmed in any way by the dictates of the majority. Tallahassee is utterly failing at that duty.

If these actions continue unabated, they may cause a disturbing change in how we perceive LGBTQ issues.Troublingly, issues such as Critical Race Theory, Black History and more already fall under the umbrella of this rampaging monster. We may witness the dawn of an era where much of the progress made on these particular issues would be rolled back.

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