13 Comments

It's really disingenuous to call requests to remove books from a curriculum a "book ban" - it's more "removal from the mandatory reading list" - and this isn't some edgy right-wing position, the head of FIRE agrees. If these groups were saying "these books should be illegal" I'd be right there with you.

Not to mention that there's been a strong civil society response in the form of book stores, the NY Public Library, etc. offering to give these challenged books to anyone who asks for them - exactly the kind of catallaxy that libertarians would expect in a free society.

I think people who care about liberty need to think long and hard about the "thin vs. thick libertarian" argument. Requiring that everyone (including parents of young children) be as high openness as your average libertarian lest they be called a bigot or reactionary is a recipe for making half the population think liberty is a weapon being used against them.

Is no man free until every ten year old reads Gender Queer? I don't think so.

Expand full comment

I think you may be overlooking the true point here. The subtext is not really about banning books but about when do parents lose their rights to parent their children? We are fighting about what age do children gain the right to oppose their parents on issues like sex, gender and religion? Parents like me would like to maintain some control of what my minor children are exposed to until they are at least 16. Good parents have a moral duty to keep their children away from what we believe is dangerous to them. In the age of internet this is almost impossible, but we hope that schools are not also rejecting traditional morality for children so young.

Expand full comment

"This does not mean there is no merit to some complaints about public education. Parts of the left have adopted a rigid dogma on gender, and there are a few children’s books that aim to proselytize it. There are serious complaints from mainstream historians about the promotion of historical errors that can distort our understanding of the role of race in American history."

Then why has no one on the "Left" done anything to prevent teaching racial division and "Queer Theory" in public schools? Why have no Democratic groups fought against teaching children lies about biological sex?

By denying these issues are a genuine problem, the "Left" has created a vacuum that Right wingers were certain to fill. And you know what? Despite being a lifelong Liberal Democrat, I support them!

I'm very liberal on economic issues (healthcare, housing, & living wages for everyone!) But when it comes to children I am extremely conservative.

CRT teaches hatred, shame, and racial division. Stop it.

Gender Ideology teaches lies about biology, and makes gender non-conforming children wonder if they should have themselves sterilized. Stop it.

Providing sexually explicit books to children in grade school breaks the very necessary "binary" between adults and children - and puts children in danger. Stop it.

Until a liberal or Democratic group takes on the very important task of preventing children from being indoctrinated in harmful ways, I will continue to support both Moms for Liberty and Libs of TikTok.

Expand full comment

I may not agree with everything in the letter from Steenman, but it discusses the material in question in a specific context that you conveniently leave out - whether or not it is appropriate for 2nd-graders. Very disingenous to leave that out. You really think it is inconsistent to call college students snowflakes and then have concerns about what is appropriate for seven year olds? Your deceitfulness here has seriously undermined your credibility with me.

I may not agree with Moms for Liberty about everything, but I applaud them for returning the well-deserved vitriol that the transactivist community has *already* turned up to 11 before anyone was even fighting back. It may not be appropriate to call every transactivist a "groomer" but for many the shoe fits all too well, and what is happening to young people today is absolutely tragic and sickening.

Expand full comment

Love it when people allow problems to fester in institutions until they break out into the open and face the inevitable backlash, then criticize the people reacting to the problems without proposing any solutions of their own.

Truly responsible citizenship.

Expand full comment

When it comes to censorship, I'm less concerned about books in public schools being age restricted than about publishers being afraid to publish "transphobic" books, or to publish white authors who dare to write about non-white people.

Sensitivity readers are also a horrific attack on free speech, in which an author's words must be twisted to fit a specific ideology.

When it comes to actual book bans and restrictions on Free Speech, it's the Left who's leading that charge, and it's the Left I blame for reactivity coming from the Right.

Expand full comment

"There is a certain irony that conservatives have spent years complaining about overly sensitive “snowflakes” who demand to be shielded from opposing views and need “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings”—yet here are conservatives demanding a safe space to shield children from basic facts about the struggle for civil rights."

Could it be that people think its silly for 18 year old legal adult college students to need "safe spaces" but also think that 8 year olds might in fact need adults to protect them from disturbing, violent, or sexual imagery? No, no - hypocrisy is the only possible answer.

I think the Moms for Liberty people sound sort of nuts here (particularly in the error of thinking that teaching people something happened is somehow endorsing that it happened, as seems to be the case with their objections to depictions of racist people being racist), but I think there is also a reasonable question of what age children should be introduced to racial slurs, images of police beatings and riots, etc. - is 8 too young or old enough? I'm not sure, but hand waving away the possibility that this could be a legitimate site of concern for parents is not a good answer either.

Expand full comment

Liberals are naive in failing to understand and control the power and the use of public education to “indoctrinate” children in the mythic verities that support and disseminate the core ideals of the nation and the state that governs it. If the child is the father of the man, then who controls the content of primary education is crucial.

The antidemocratic Founders clearly understood that the polity that controls education of children thereby inculcates the local philosophy of ideals that state should profess.

Consequently the Founders’ Constitution empowered the individual states, counties, and townships to control both the administration of the schools and the content of the core curriculum. Today, the naivety of liberals is on full display when in the states and counties they govern, they continue to take a “he said/she said” philosophy toward what the children are taught about the particulars of the American Credo. In college a full throated debate on the subtle arguments about the “contest of competing ideas” as the surest road to truth about America’s core principles is critical. The role of college is to develop the skill of critical thinking.

The role of K-12 education may be “the three Rs” of readin, ritin, and rithmatic”. But, it is also the “indoctrination of the fundamental “credo” of the American State. When Republican politicians and activists are ceded local control of education, no one should be shocked that they teach a politics based on the supremacy of the individual state to control the content and administration of both schools and elections. We may be the only democracy on the planet that does not empower the national government to determine what is taught in primary education.

Expand full comment

I didn't read the whole rap-sheet of Moms for Liberty's enormities, but I'm prepared to stipulate them. I'm not going to ask why you're taking that organization to task and not the Education programs and the teachers' unions. Much of that was done ably in previous comments.

I will mention, though, that since you seem concerned with school boards' ability to deal with things like building classrooms and raising grades, you should note that 𝘯𝘰𝘣𝘰𝘥𝘺 𝘪𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘤𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮 𝘵𝘰 𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘴𝘵 𝘰𝘯 𝘏𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘩𝘢𝘴 𝘛𝘸𝘰 𝘔𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘳 1619 𝘤𝘶𝘳𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘢 𝘰𝘳 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘰𝘶𝘯 𝘳𝘶𝘭𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘳, 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳, 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘥𝘦 𝘧𝘭𝘢𝘨𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘴𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘰𝘭𝘴. Schools got along at least as well without these things and the boards know damn well that many of the parents they're there to serve are furiously against them. You might suggest that they simply, you know, 𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘱.

Expand full comment

Libs of TikTok has posted numerous videos by teachers showing how they are using their classroom to promote extreme sexual views. Of course, that is OK. Moms for Liberty is not. Some of the books Moms for Liberty wants out of public schools are quite extreme. Ever heard of 'Gender Queer', 'Flamer', and 'Wait What?'?

Expand full comment

Moms for Liberty has the right under our Constitution to petition, however heavy handed, the government for redress of what they see as grievances. The problem for us on the center right, center, and center left is that the right and far right have been more adept on organizing and influencing at the levels of county and municipality. After 20 or more years of right and far right activity, the nation seems to be just waking up after a blinding glimpse of the obvious.

Expand full comment

If I am not mistaken, an article in today's Washington Post relates an attempt by left wing activists to ban "To Kill a Mockingbird" in a DC - area school district.

Also, I do not think that Galileo was ever tortured.

Expand full comment