Education, Family & Community

‘Experts’ to parents: Don’t believe your own lying eyes

September 24, 2022

Brandon Dutcher & Trent England

Perhaps you’ve seen news stories these last several days celebrating what is called “Banned Books Week.” For virtue-signaling school employees and media activists, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Several organizations are promoting this made-for-media pseudoevent. For example:

In short, the thinking is that “all books should be in the library,” as First Lady Jill Biden declares flatly. “All books. This is America. We don’t ban books.”

‘Banned’ Books? Not Exactly

It turns out that Mrs. Biden may have inadvertently spoken the truth when she said “we don’t ban books.” For as theologian and seminary president Albert Mohler points out, the entire premise of “Banned Books Week” is based on a lie. By PEN America’s own definition (“What Is a Book Ban?”), ban doesn’t necessarily mean ban. “If any parent complains about any book and it is placed on, say, a higher or lower shelf in the library,” Mohler says, “it can be claimed that’s now a banned book.”

“They’ve had to redefine what it means for a book to be ‘banned,’” he says. “And that’s intellectually dishonest.” Unlike in repressive regimes such as North Korea (where possessing a fragment of the New Testament is a capital crime) or China or Iran, in the United States “there is no real honest problem of a lack of access to just about anything anyone wants to see, anyone wants to hear, anyone wants to read.”

Bipartisan Agreement: Gender Queer Is Pornography

Let us now turn our attention to the most “banned” book of the 2021-22 school year: Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

On July 26, 2022, the Twitter account LibsOfTikTok reported that Tulsa Public Schools “has the graphic books ‘Gender Queer’ and ‘Flamer’ available for students in many of their schools. Both books contain sexually explicit and pornographic content.”

Libs of TikTok

“This is disgusting,” Oklahoma Secretary of Education Ryan Walters, a Republican, said the next day. “It must end!”

“This is inappropriate, sexually explicit material,” said Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, a Democrat. “It’s pornography that does not belong in any public school library.” (Hofmeister’s no dummy. She doesn’t want to be on the receiving end of an ad like this.)

Indeed, as Amy Haywood noted in a recent article, “for books like Gender Queer, I’m unable to replicate the pictures depicted in the book for this article, as I would be subject to legal penalties.”

‘Professionals’ Try to Gaslight Parents

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said of pornography: “I know it when I see it.” In like manner, Oklahoma parents know what they know. Nevertheless, incredibly, some educators, teacher unions, religious-left leaders, and activists (those with and without bylines) think they can gaslight parents. Consider:

Who You Gonna Believe?

Like many states, Oklahoma law makes it a crime to cause “any child to view any obscene materials.” Is that a “ban” on books? Not really. Oklahoma adults, including teachers and school librarians, are permitted to own, access, or create obscene materials. But like cigarettes, they cannot pass them on to children.

Advocates for pornography in schools often hide behind classics like To Kill a Mockingbird or Tom Sawyer. These are great works worthy of reading, but nobody includes them in elementary school curricula. Does that mean they’re “banned” in elementary schools?

Behind the claims of book banning are adults bent on using children as pawns for their sexual ideologies and fetishes.

PEN America would have us trust the “ethics” and “discretion” of educational professionals. But if some of those professionals can’t even pass the simple Potter Stewart test, should parents be expected to trust them? Parents should never be cowed by their supposed betters, the “experts” and “professionals” asking them: Who you gonna believe, me or your own lying eyes?