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Book banning infringes on free speech

Vibodha Gallage Dona

As education continues to feel the negative effects of the pandemic, parent groups and right-wing media are using the opportunity to redefine literature in America. The attacks on inclusion in books are a futile effort to control the media.

The move of book banning is a weaponized tactic used by conservative groups, including the rising “Moms for Liberty” grassroots organization, who argue that the move is a defender of parental rights in education. The group has faced accusations of targeting books that discuss race, gender and sexuality.

It has become a clear sign that in the lead-up to the 2024 presidential election, banning books has emerged as a highly politicized issue, fueled by a combination of societal tensions, cultural shifts and political strategies, as America has witnessed among the current Republican Party.

On a local level in politics, Moms for Liberty has been at the forefront of the movement helping elect right-wing candidates to school boards, AP News reported.

Book banning is nothing more than an infringement on the First Amendment. The idea of banning certain literary pieces due to subjective content poses a significant threat to freedom of expression, intellectual freedom and the right to access information. Firstly, banning books restricts individuals’ ability to explore diverse perspectives and ideas, inhibiting intellectual growth and critical thinking.

Since the alarming trend began, The American Library Association has kept data on how much censorship has infiltrated libraries and other educational institutions. The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom recorded 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022. The highest number of book censorship attempts in the past 20 years.

By censoring certain viewpoints, society risks creating an echo chamber where only approved narratives are allowed, hindering the development of well-rounded individuals capable of engaging in meaningful discourse.

The conservative movement fails to realize that by banning books, they are taking away literature’s ability to provide new perspectives on life. Books serve as portals to diverse life experiences as they help the younger generation with an understanding of hard topics such as racial tension, and sexuality among the youth as well as other political and social topics.

According to a 2014 study, reading J.K. Rowling’s famous “Harry Potter” series, which is challenged among conservative groups for religious concerns regarding witchcraft, helps readers gain a better understanding of immigrants and LGBTQ individuals.

Challenged books help people get a better comprehension of the world around them, not just from a historical perspective.

Censorship of books has led to multiple attacks on libraries, some of which have reached to dangerous levels. According to a report from the Chicago SunTimes, libraries across the nation have received bomb threats.

Libraries have also been affected financially by having their funding cut. New York Public Libraries recently announced that they would be forced to cut their service hours in the wake of Adams’ sweeping budget cuts.

Banning books is a conservative tactic that is futile in the digital age. The move will only lead to more resistance from the public and literacy advocates.

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Jahlil Rush
Jahlil Rush, Production Assistant
Jahlil Rush is a Production Assistant for The Ticker.
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