The Chronicle -

A thing of no consequence?

 

February 6, 2020

Dear Editor,

Some children's books have been removed from Creswell School District libraries. Their removal is being considered by the Creswell Library Board because some people find them offensive. A child's book may appear a thing of no consequence. I disagree. It is symptomatic of a larger problem we face as a society.

While parents have every right to monitor and limit the material to which their children are exposed, the community has no such right. Rather, it has an obligation to make a wide range of information available to all its members. Restricting access to things, be they art, or books, or goods, or political views, or religious beliefs is a social evil with no home in a free society.

Many provisions of the Constitution and several of its amendments specifically protect the individual against such abuses by the state. These are not crafted to protect the majority, for they need none. It is the minority opinion and the unpopular view that require them.

In a society as vibrant and diverse as ours, we must expect occasionally to be offended. This is not a defect. It is an opportunity to examine our own thoughts and feelings. It is a chance to explore the attitudes of others. Engaging others in civil public discourse is how democracies sort out their differences and formulate policies designed to produce a community supportive of all its citizens. Too many Americans seem to have forgotten this.

We no longer engage those with whom we disagree. We retreat into our little enclaves of like-mindedness and hurl invectives at one another. We enlist the courts and the political apparatus not to find some common ground but to gain some momentary advantage or to punish those holding views in opposition to our own. This is not the way a liberal (in the classic meaning of the word) society functions.

History is replete with examples of book burnings and the desecration of art. These are harbingers of a coming despotism. Today, it is a child's book. What will it be tomorrow?

M. James Fox

Creswell

 
 

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