Book Banning Gets My Goat! (A Red-Goat Short Ranty-time Thing)


I know many of my rants are dedicated to the perceived ills of religion, but there are certain things that will get under my skin just as deeply as a religious injustice, and that is idiocy and the general injustice which comes with willful ignorance.

In the Idaho school district of Meridian it was reported that several disgruntled parents called the cops on some teenagers.

That’s nothing new in the day and the life of your average teen, as teenagers are known for traveling in loud obnoxious packs, playing their music at a billion decibels too loud to think, and getting into general mischief.

But the reason for bringing the law down upon these teens was entirely new–because these teens weren’t doing anything out of the ordinary. In fact, they were all bookworms giving away free books. That’s right, free books! At an event sponsored by their local book store, no less.

So why were the cops called on these mild-mannered teens?

The whole series of unfortunate events began earlier in the year when the Meridian school board voted to ban Native American author Sherman Alexie’s book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian for allegedly containing bad language, sexual content, and anti-Christian content.

Never mind all of these objections are completely subjective, the adults who voted to ban the book hadn’t even read it. Rather, the book, which was assigned reading at Junior Mountain High School, alarmed a concerned Christian student who in turn showed his (may or may not be Nazi) parents what he deemed to be an offensive and anti-Christian passage in the book and the parents brought it to the attention of the school board.

Because they were giving a book away that some adult somewhere disagreed with. Now before you go jumping to conclusions, let me just say right off the bat that it wasn’t porn. It was regular old literature. Yes, folks. Literature written by an acclaimed, award-winning, Native American author by the name of Sherman Alexie.

Whether or not Alexie’s race had anything to do with prompting the parent’s hateful attack on his literature is anyone’s guess, but I wouldn’t rule it out. Banning books and racism often go hand-in-hand, just ask any Nazi.

Needless to say, banning books in general, I think, is a really terrible idea, but banning books you haven’t ever read, I’m sorry to say, makes you a complete idiot (if not a Nazi). At any rate, the story gets better.

The (may or may not be Nazi) parents who objected to the book were obviously not thinking about the teens living on Idaho’s five Native American reservations. The whole book-banning thing didn’t sit well with those who had actually read the book, and the district’s local teens fought back, organizing a petition to have the book reinstated. 

In response, a local Boise bookseller, Rediscovered Books, crowd-funded a $3,400 campaign to buy copies of the book for each of the 350 students who signed the petition. The teens handed out books in Kleiner Park (a public park) and nearly gave away every copy. That’s when the cops were called in to break up this otherwise peaceful protest.

Boise news station KBOI reported that the cops were, apparently, baffled when they arrived on the scene. They didn’t find any harm in what the teens were doing and left them to their business.

But the story gets even better yet.

Sherman Alexie’s publisher, Hatchette Book Group, heard about the ordeal and sent 350 additional books to Rediscover Books to give away on top of the ones they had already given.

So congratulations to the teens of Meridian school district and Junior Mountain High School for a victory well-deserved. 

In fact, the parents brash cop-calling behavior is already backfiring in their faces. I am sure there are many like me who haven’t read a good Sherman Alexie book since college, and this whole incident piqued my curiosity, so I went ahead and downloaded The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian onto my Kindle. I’ll be reading it this weekend.

But that leaves one pressing question. More of a concern really. Who are these horrible, anti-intellectual, insular minded parents who think they can go around banning books they obviously haven’t read? Further more, don’t these parents realize that peaceful public protests are protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? What could be more peaceful than giving away free books in a park?

It seems the moral of the story is clear, while the young people of the Meridian school district are out on the streets passing out knowledge, literally, the book-banning parents need to go back to school and get a goddamn education.

For more on the incident please see:
And here:
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