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It’s OK to label me as an anti-book banner

Friday, September 20, 2013 - 12:01 am

Recently, a woman who called herself an “independent conservative” to separate herself from that hairy horde of regressives, called me a “secular progressive,” apparently to deny that she was equally narrow like that horde of right-wing extremists.

As a Christian, I take a secular view of the Constitution. If that’s what she meant, it’s OK by me. But the topic is children’s books, which neither of us is willing to censor. She has a list of books that give comfort to conservative book-banners; that is, she “wishes” adult authors of children’s books would not validate every spasm of the teen years.

The only “thing” holding her back is a free market economy, as she views it.

She wishes book publishers would publish only the books she likes for children — that they would operate their businesses for social purposes rather than for profit. Contradiction, huh?

As a father and grandfather, I take an interventionist approach to children’s books, steering mine away from books about sex and horror and degradation and toward books that make moral and aesthetic claims.

Oh, yes, I readily confess. Censorship? Never!

Here’s my point: Many believe our culture is split between left and right on the question of permissiveness regarding what our kids read. In fact, I find there is no such division on the core issues, in spite of what Fox News claims and preaches.

I confess to having “a list” of books that I would steer mine (or a parent) away from reading, but I would never try to impose this on my community (schools, libraries, etc.) — for example, books I read as jingoism, depictions of biblical gender roles as traditional roles in our society, etc.

Finally, it’s OK by me for cons and regressives to label me as an anti-book banner on the left who agrees that books influence our kids and that I prefer some books to others. However, I do not use capitalism as the criterion for that position.

For the record, I feel the same about music, which is more powerful than the printed word. But I’m not a philistine like the hairy horde. I’m not preoccupied or obsessed with sex like the critic who calls me a “secular progressive.”

B. J. Paschal, Ph.D., is a retired Ball State professor.