Saturday, December 2, 2023

False choice: parent responsibility or freedom to learn


Commenting on a parent rally to remove “pornographic” books from the public library in Dearborn, Michigan, the mayor said he believed a false choice was being presented by protesters between parental responsibility and the freedom to learn, because both can coexist, Michigan Advance, a progressive-leaning nonprofit news site, reports.

Model T cars in Dearborn, Mich. (TennesseePhotographer/iStockPhoto)

“Make no mistake: at their core, these are attempts to limit our freedoms, and it will not stop there,” the site quoted Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud as saying. Mr Hammoud is the city’s first Arab American mayor. “The same dangerous ideology that once considered people like me ‘a problem’ in Dearborn is now being revived under the guise of preserving ‘liberty.’

“To my fellow parents, we have the responsibility of raising our children with the values we hold dear,” he continued. “And as attacks are being cast, remember that our children are watching.”

Sunday, in front of Dearborn’s Centennial Library, several hundred protestors rallied behind fliers that said: “protect our children.” The Dearborn Public Schools temporarily removed seven titles from their collection, including LGBTQ+ themes and characters, and the protesters have moved on to the public library.

According to PEN America’s index of banned books, school districts in several states have banned at least one title in classrooms, libraries, or both. We summarized their list as of today.

Number of districts and book bans by state

Alaska, 1 district, 1 book
Arkansas, 1 district, 1 book
Florida, 21 districts, hundreds of books
Georgia, 2 districts, about 20 books
Idaho, 3 districts, about 25 books
Illinois, 4 districts, 5 books
Indiana, 3 districts, about 15 books
Iowa, 4 districts, 8 books
Kansas, 3 districts, about 30 books
Maryland, 1 district, 1 book
Michigan, 4 districts, not including Dearborn, about 40 books
Minnesota, 1 district, 1 book
Mississippi, 1 district, 20 books
Missouri, 8 districts, about 25 books
New Jersey, 3 districts, 3 books
New York, 4 districts, 12 books
North Carolina, 5 districts, about 15 books
Ohio, 1 district, 4 books
Oklahoma, 3 districts, about 40 books
Oregon, 1 district, 1 book
Pennsylvania, 12 districts, about 450 books
Rhode Island, 1 district, 1 book
South Carolina, 1 district, 1 book
South Dakota, 1 district, 5 books
Tennessee, 6 districts, about 340 books
Texas, 22 districts, about 800 books
Utah, 3 districts, 12 books
Vermont, 1 district, 1 book
Virginia, 9 districts, about 20 books
Washington, 3 districts, 5 books
Wisconsin, 6 districts, about 30 books

For those who may not know, the Ford Motor Company proudly built most Model T automobiles at its plant in Highland Park, Michigan, some 15 minutes away from Dearborn, down I-94. The Model T is largely considered the most influential automobile of the 20th century, as it brought motor cars to the middle class.

It’s ironic indeed that an area that was so proud of its innovation a hundred years ago, bringing new technology and new learning to our world, would try to stop its students of the 21st century from learning about all the new things we now know about gender, about young people’s wellbeing, and about science.

We seem intent on making sure young people keep driving Model Ts even as they see SUVs and Teslas zooming all around them—more evidence that the only natural state in a free world is irony.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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