The Tea Party moves to ban books…….[a mostly raw copy-blog I even left the original comments]

The Tea Party moves to ban books

As the Tea Party looks more and more like the old religious right, censoring what children can read in school is on the agenda.

Youth Reading in a Library

At a high school in Missouri, Kurt Vonnegut‘s Slaughterhouse Five has been banned after complaints that it was inconsistent with biblical teaching. Photograph: Corbis

Even though it will be pointedly ignored by mainstream media types wed to the narrative that the Tea Party is a spontaneous uprising of people who were apolitical before Obama sent them around the bend, I’m guessing many of you read with interest Robert Putnam and David Campbell’s distillation of their intense research in political attitudes of Americans that shows that the “Tea Party” is the same ol’ rightwing base, but just with a new name. And they’re the most Bible-thumping-est part of the rightwing base (as well as the most racist – these things tend to go together). Write Putnam and Campbell:

[Tea Party members] were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 – opposing abortion, for example – and still are today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.

All of which doesn’t mean we can just shrug this off as same-shit-different-name. One important thing has changed – giving them a fancy new nickname and a bunch of Astroturf rallies and endless coverage in both right wing and mainstream media has emboldened these dickweeds. It’s same-shit-different-name, but with more power and energy because of the fancy new name.

One measure of how emboldened the religious right is at any point in time is looking at book challenges and censorship in local schools. Interfering with the intellectual empowerment of minors is right up there on the priority list with raising the teenage pregnancy rate to produce a constant flow of examples to point to when wailing on about the wages of sin. And censorship attempts have already seen a lot of success this year, according to the American Library Association:

Last month ThinkProgress reported that a Missouri high school had banned Kurt Vonnegut’s classic novel Slaughterhouse Five because religious residents complained that it taught principles contrary to the Bible. Now the American Library Association reports that this year alone, US schools have banned more than 20 books and faced more than 50 other challenges, with many more expected this fall as school starts …

While parents have traditionally launched the lion’s share of challenges, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, an attorney with the association, says she has noticed “an uptick in organised efforts” to remove books from public and school libraries.

The uptick in organisation is a disturbing trend to watch more closely. With religious right whining censorship efforts aimed at the internet or television, I think it’s easier just to see them as “concerned citizens”, since a lot of well-meaning but misguided people tend to get bent out of shape at kids’ investment in pop culture, which they erroneously believe is significantly different than their own youthful love of pop culture.

But attacking books shows that this isn’t about the religious right being concerned that kids’ minds are being numbed. It shows that they’re worried kids’ minds aren’t being numbed enough! Which, in turn, should make people inclined to agree with them about TV and music stop and think really hard. If people whose main concern is making kids stupid and compliant get upset at kids’ exposure to music videos and video games, it’s because they see those things, like books, as potentially horizon-broadening. Strangely, the religious right sees things the way I do in this way – they don’t see a significant difference between fiction in a book, on a stage, or on a screen. The big difference is they oppose all ways that can broaden horizons, and I see the potential to broaden horizons in all these various mediums, and believe that’s a good thing.

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  • BinkyBlue
    24 August 2011 7:39PM
    I’ve read this article twice now, and can spot no evidence presented that“The Tea Party moves to ban books”Are you just making it up?
  • gillyput
    24 August 2011 7:39PM

    endless coverage in both right wing and mainstream media has emboldened these dickweeds. It’s same-shit-different-name, but with more power and energy because of the fancy new name.

    Dickweed is my new favourite word.
    I despair for America.
    What have you done to deserve these Tea Party freaks?
    Mind you – what have we done to deserve these public school pipsqueaks?

  • nicita
    24 August 2011 7:42PM
    I thought that book burning and the extreme right had always gone together.  Bring on the most silly intolerant extemist candidate to oppose Obama.  However misguided in other respects, main stream Americans will see attacks of freedom of speech for what they are.
  • Contributor
    teaandchocolate
    24 August 2011 7:42PM
    Worrying.  I used to hide the odd edition of Jackie, a UK teen mag under my bed as a kid, and it was pretty innocuous.  It must be horrendous having to hide books from you parents.Have they banned Harry Potter?They are a worry, the American right; a right worry.
  • kikithefrog
    24 August 2011 7:43PM
    Sorry, could you explain again how you got from

    a Missouri high school had banned Kurt Vonnegut’s classic novel Slaughterhouse Five

    to

    The Tea Party moves to ban books

    ?

  • gillyput
    24 August 2011 7:46PM
    Kikithefrog and BinkyBlue

    Last month ThinkProgress reported that a Missouri high school had banned Kurt Vonnegut’s classic novel Slaughterhouse Five because religious residents complained that it taught principles contrary to the Bible. Now the American Library Association reports that this year alone, US schools have banned more than 20 books and faced more than 50 other challenges, with many more expected this fall as school starts …

    You think this is some kind of naturally occurring phenomenon? Or symptomatic of a swing to the right by emboldended biblebashing freaks?

  • thesnufkin
    24 August 2011 7:46PM
    So what exactly do American children read?No fairy tales – too pagan.No dinosaurs – that would annoy the Creationists.Clearly nothing about poor people who are wiser than kings or rich people who help the poor – that’s not the American way.No wonder when 911 happend that the book that Bush was reading was something  boring about a lamb.
  • Contributor
    Sarika008
    24 August 2011 7:48PM
    @kikithefrogI think the author is equating the Tea Party with the religious right, which may or may not be accurate. I think she believes it’s justified because Putnam and Campbell found one of the strongest predictors for being a Tea Party supporter in 2006 was wanting religion to play a bigger role in politics.
  • fogeverywhere
    24 August 2011 7:49PM
    Well, school libraries have always had some restrictions on what is available to young readers. How recently was Huckleberry Finn being bowdlerised by people who thought (?) that they could improve on Twain’s original? Who even thought (?) that the original wasn’t fit to be kept on the shelves of public libraries of the UK, if my recollection is correct.But if you deny children who want to read access to certain texts, they’re more likely to seek them out in private.The whole tone of this article – ’emboldened these dickweeds’, for example – is more appropriate to some of the more lurid comments BTL. Clearly the Tea Party is having some success.
  • kikithefrog
    24 August 2011 7:49PM

    The big difference is they oppose all ways that can broaden horizons, and I see the potential to broaden horizons in all these various mediums, and believe that’s a good thing.

    So good of you to tell us how far you see.

  • TheUsualSuspects
    24 August 2011 7:52PM

    Last month ThinkProgress reported that a Missouri high school had banned Kurt Vonnegut’s classic novel Slaughterhouse Five because religious residents complained that it taught principles contrary to the Bible.

    Not the Tea Party then ?

    One measure of how emboldened the religious right is at any point in time is looking at book challenges and censorship in local schools.

    What is the ‘religious right’ ? Is there such a thing as ‘religious left’ ? Why append the label right/left wing. Just say ‘religious’.

    Additionally, I don’t think that banning books in schools is the most emboldened thing religion has done ‘at any point in time’.

    Dreadful article.

  • kikithefrog
    24 August 2011 7:53PM
    gillyput “You think this is some kind of naturally occurring phenomenon? “No, but I see no evidence whatsoever that it is anything to do with the Tea Party, still less that the Tea Party are moving to “ban books.”This whole article is a special sort of Guardian entertainment, the enjoyable group panic.
  • JohnnySmasher
    24 August 2011 7:53PM
    I’ve never understood why the USA is so fanatical about religion. It actually came as quite a surprise to me when I found this out, as I had always thought the US was a really progressive place.Let’s hope it doesn’t become like the Islamic countries, where not only are certain books banned, but to be caught in possession of one would mean being put to death.
  • LakerFan
    24 August 2011 7:53PM

    All of which doesn’t mean we can just shrug this off as same-shit-different-name. One important thing has changed – giving them a fancy new nickname and a bunch of Astroturf rallies and endless coverage in both right wing and mainstream media has emboldened these dickweeds. It’s same-shit-different-name, but with more power and energy because of the fancy new name.

    Looky- the radical right wing is burning books.  I have never seen that before….

    The uptick in organisation is a disturbing trend to watch more closely. With religious right whining censorship efforts aimed at the internet or television, I think it’s easier just to see them as “concerned citizens”,

    Upton Sinclair (American author) wrote that “When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”  Do you suppose if small right-angle appendages can be added to “the cross” it will resemble that “same-shit-different-name” thingie?

  • oxan
    24 August 2011 7:54PM
    @BinkyBlue

    I’ve read this article twice now, and can spot no evidence presented that

    “The Tea Party moves to ban books”

    Are you just making it up?

    Ah well, you see, the Tea Party is a nasty, right-wing, religious extremist organisation, and some school in Missouri took Slaughterouse Five off the syllabus, so obviously the Tea Party wants to ban books – get with the program!

  • softMick
    24 August 2011 7:56PM
    @AmandaInstead of using the tag-line –

    The Tea Party moves to ban books

    Try –

    The Iranian Regime moves to ban books

    The story could then remain the more or less the same, yet paradoxically both ultra-right-wing groups consider the other the enemy.
    When a group of people seeking power use religious indoctrination as a form of control the rest is pretty much history. They

  • kikithefrog
    24 August 2011 7:57PM
    Sarika008 writes, ” I think she believes it’s justified because Putnam and Campbell found one of the strongest predictors for being a Tea Party supporter in 2006 was wanting religion to play a bigger role in politics.”Well I can see that’s her line of thinking, I just don’t think much of it. I suppose “Member of a group sharing predictive factors for being a Tea Party supporter got book banned in Missouri” wouldn’t have been much of a headline.
  • LakerFan
    24 August 2011 7:58PM

    JohnnySmasher
    24 August 2011 7:53PM
    I’ve never understood why the USA is so fanatical about religion. It actually came as quite a surprise to me when I found this out, as I had always thought the US was a really progressive place.

    Let’s hope it doesn’t become like the Islamic countries, where not only are certain books banned, but to be caught in possession of one would mean being put to death.

    As an American, I see that the only difference between religious fanatics is the brand of religion.  Religion is truly destructive to reason.  Voltaire was right.

  • TheUsualSuspects
    24 August 2011 8:00PM

    LakerFan
    Looky- the radical right wing is burning books. I have never seen that before….

    Nobody is burning books. They are being proscribed in one (?) school. It has happened throughout history and has nothing to do with left/right wing labels.

    If I read this article correctly the attempt is to subtly link right-wing thought (however one wishes to express that) with religion and then take a moral high-ground. It is tenuous at best and riddled with holes.

  • Whitt
    24 August 2011 8:01PM
    I’m sorry Ms. Marcotte, but much as I feel that the Tea Party crowd are a bunch of wingnuts, I don’t see where you’ve made your case here.  You start with a premise that many of the Tea Party belong to the religious right, then make the leap to your your conclusion using a single case where a specific book was banned in one library due to complaints from members of the religious right (with no mention of the Tea Party) and a factoid”Deborah Caldwell-Stone, an attorney with the association, says she has noticed ‘an uptick in organised efforts’ to remove books from public and school libraries”that has no specifics as to who is behind these “organized efforts”.This is extremely sloppy work.  You are guilty of the same kind of practices that the Tea Party crowd engages in.
  • scassacocchi
    24 August 2011 8:07PM
    I loathe the Tea Party mentality as much as anyone, but this is a shockingly poor article, both in terms of writing and in terms of supplying actual information, as several other posters’ questions highlight. It’s also very sloppily edited (if edited at all). What does the first part of this sentence mean?

    With religious right whining censorship efforts aimed at the internet or television, I think it’s easier just to see them as “concerned citizens”, since a lot of well-meaning but misguided people tend to get bent out of shape at kids’ investment in pop culture, which they erroneously believe is significantly different than their own youthful love of pop culture.

  • LakerFan
    24 August 2011 8:09PM

    Last month ThinkProgress reported that a Missouri high school had banned Kurt Vonnegut’s classic novel Slaughterhouse Five because religious residents complained that it taught principles contrary to the Bible. Now the American Library Association reports that this year alone, US schools have banned more than 20 books and faced more than 50 other challenges, with many more expected this fall as school starts …

    I think Kurt might like the idea that his book was banned by an ultra-right-wing fascist organization.  Think about how Slaughterhouse Five even begins….

    So US schools have banned 20 books that kids will read anyway.  The ultra-right-wing fascists are ignoring Goebbels Eighth Principle of Propaganda:

    8. The purpose, content and effectiveness of enemy propaganda; the strength and effects of an expose; and the nature of current propaganda campaigns determine whether enemy propaganda should be ignored or refuted.

  • SoberReflection
    24 August 2011 8:11PM
    So, the Tea Party opposes books that are contrary to its world view? No shit, Sherlock!The left would never do anything like that, would it? PC zealots are perfectly happy with Enid Blyton, for example, aren’t they?
  • kikithefrog
    24 August 2011 8:13PM
    I just re-read this article to see if it was still as silly. Looking at this bit,

    Missouri high school had banned Kurt Vonnegut’s classic novel Slaughterhouse Five because religious residents complained that it taught principles contrary to the Bible. Now the American Library Association reports that this year alone, US schools have banned more than 20 books and faced more than 50 other challenges, with many more expected this fall as school starts …

    I noticed that there wasn’t even any evidence either that the “religious residents” were right wing at all  – and there is indeed a religious left, particularly among African Americans – or that the other 20-plus books mentioned were banned on religious grounds.

    I’d have thought it just as likely that they were banned or censored on grounds of political correctness. For instance there really was a reissued version of Huckleberry Finn that did not include the word “nigger”, even though the universal use of that term, and Huck’s gradual escape from that mental atmosphere as he learns to see Jim as a human being, is the theme of the book.

  • Jamestown
    24 August 2011 8:16PM
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  • kikithefrog
    24 August 2011 8:20PM
    I have.It’s OK.Yeah, all that Offred stuff. Gonna happen any day now. It was prophetic, the way that bloke who used to wonder around Oxford Street saying the end of the world was coming and don’t eat red meat was prophetic. He was prophesying.What was that boring academic postscript trying to say, though?
  • SamsonBadcock
    24 August 2011 8:23PM
    I read the Handmaid’s tale. Grossly over-rated, along with Catcher in the Rye and The Grapes of Wrath.Catch 22- on the other hand should be on every A level reading list.
  • MozP
    24 August 2011 8:24PM
    The far left like banning books.  The far right like banning books.Really, the two extremes are just two sides of the same, intolerant coin.
  • LakerFan
    24 August 2011 8:27PM

    kikithefrog
    24 August 2011 8:20PM
    I have.

    It’s OK.

    Yeah, all that Offred stuff. Gonna happen any day now. It was prophetic, the way that bloke who used to wonder around Oxford Street saying the end of the world was coming and don’t eat red meat was prophetic. He was prophesying.

    What was that boring academic postscript trying to say, though?

    That all fascists face a loaded pistol in that bunker in Berlin as the Red Army marches in.  Fascism commits suicide.  The book starts with that observation, by explaining why the species has, by cause-and-effect, decided not to reproduce.

    I can also explain the plot to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

  • bassireland
    24 August 2011 8:29PM
    @Jamestown

    The Islamists [CAIR] complain about something everyday. Everyday! You get a line on a story some Christians are complaining about a book, and, poof, the Tea Party is engaging in censorship. Amazing and a tad dickweedish.

    I suspect CAIR is less likely to get its way and if it was we’d be up in arms about that. It’s not which particular brand of imaginary friend extremism you favour, its simply imaginary friend extremism that I object to.

  • LakerFan
    24 August 2011 8:30PM

    MozP
    24 August 2011 8:24PM
    The far left like banning books. The far right like banning books.

    Really, the two extremes are just two sides of the same, intolerant coin.

    The far left like writing books.

    The far left like reading books.

    The far left like books.

    Fascists and extremists of any stripe don’t like books.

    Goebbels’ Principles of Propaganda 14:

    14. Propaganda must label events and people with distinctive phrases or slogans.
    a. They must evoke desired responses which the audience previously possesses

    b. They must be capable of being easily learned

    c. They must be utilized again and again, but only in appropriate situations

    d. They must be boomerang-proof

    Reading books is enjoyable and useful.

  • Jamestown
    24 August 2011 8:33PM
    bassireland

    I suspect CAIR is less likely to get its way and if it was we’d be up in arms about that.

    Do a little research about CAIR then decide because you obviously don’t know just how often they do get their way.

  • GreenLake
    24 August 2011 8:33PM
    The Tea Party is a loose coaltion of people with dumb ideas about the economy.The fact most of them are ignorant, religious, right-wing extremists should not be surprising, but their extracurricular beliefs and activities should not be conflated with the TP’s mission.They should, however, alert other TP supporters who are not ignorant, religious, right-wing extremists that it’s only natural they should be judged by the company they keep.
  • LakerFan
    24 August 2011 8:39PM

    Jamestown
    24 August 2011 8:33PM
    bassireland

    I suspect CAIR is less likely to get its way and if it was we’d be up in arms about that.

    Do a little research about CAIR then decide because you obviously don’t know just how often they do get their way.

    Way out of the context of this article, but I’ve never heard of CAIR.  Just how similar is CAIR to the teabaggers?  Sides of the same coin sort of thing?  Has CAIR burned books at some Aryan Rally or something?

    Are we to be concerned that there are two bags of nuts out there that ban/burn books?

  • Contributor
    Sarika008
    24 August 2011 8:40PM
    @scassacocchiThis post is part of the Guardian Comment Network, and was cross-posted on CIF because some readers may find the content thought-provoking.  The Guardian does not change the content of the author’s work.
  • Whitt
    24 August 2011 8:42PM
    “Fascists and extremists of any stripe don’t like books.” – LakerFan
    *
    That’s not true.  Fascists and extremists use books to promulgate their POV.  It’s other people’s books they don’t like and want to forbid.
  • LakerFan
    24 August 2011 8:46PM

    jazzdrum
    24 August 2011 8:35PM
    Orwell and Krishnamurti should be taught to every school child, a complete social education.

    And they used to be.  My basic California education included Orwell’s works, Krishnamurti’s, Hesse’s, Voltaire’s, Shakespeare’s, Thoreau’s and all of Victor Hugo’s.

    Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World were part of the secondary literature curriculum, as were the works of Graham Greene, Dickens, and Jane Austen.

    To paraphrase Dr. Jones: If the goose-stepping morons would READ books instead of burning them, there might be more “potential to broaden horizons in all these various mediums, and believe that’s a good thing.”

One thought on “The Tea Party moves to ban books…….[a mostly raw copy-blog I even left the original comments]

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