The Book Burners Next Door

Photo credit: Washington Post

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

James Sherlock alerted us yesterday to a “bigger threat to our nation than Russia and China” by the left. While the Biden administration’s establishment of an effort to combat online disinformation is somewhat disquieting, its dimensions are somewhat vague. It could be no more than a federal government “fact checker.”

On the other hand, we need only to look to one of our neighbors for a concrete example of the Orwellian future some on the right would impose.

Earlier this week, the Tennessee House adopted a bill amendment that would have required all school librarians to submit annually a list of all their holdings to a state commission for review. The commission would have the responsibility to review each list to ensure that the materials “are appropriate for the age and maturity levels of the students who may access the materials, and that the materials are suitable for, and consistent with, the educational mission of the school.” No school library could include any book in its collection that the commission deemed “inappropriate.” During the floor debate on the bill, the sponsor of the amendment was asked what would be done with books that did not meet the approval of the commission. He responded, “I would burn them.”

Following a national uproar, a toned-down bill emerged from a House/Senate conference committee. The revised bill requires the commission to issue “guidance” to schools to use in reviewing their library collections to ensure that all materials are age and maturity appropriate and consistent with the school’s education mission. (The background for this bill was legislation sponsored by the governor and recently passed that requires school librarians to survey their collections for age appropriateness and education mission. This later bill would provide the librarians some guidance on how to do that.) In addition, the final bill would enable any parent or school employee to appeal to the commission a school’s decision to retain a book in its collection. If the commission agreed that the book was inappropriate, every school in the state would be required to remove copies from its collection. The bill does not say what should be done with the copies of the books removed from the libraries.

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31 responses to “The Book Burners Next Door”

  1. Matt Adams Avatar
    Matt Adams

    This article is an exercise in Whataboutism, which is SOP for DHS. Do better or don’t write.

  2. …the sponsor of the amendment was asked what would be done with books that did not meet the approval of the commission. He responded, “I would burn them.”

    What a stupid thing to say. A more appropriate answer could have been: “I would leave them to public libraries and book stores”.

    I am certain the bill in Tennessee goes further than I would go in controlling what reading material and literature the schools expose our children to, but monitoring school libraries at some level is not censorship in my opinion.

    For elementary and middle school students, I don’t have a problem with the schools curating the books and materials in the school library for age-appropriateness.

    High school students should be treated like young adults. Their school libraries should look a lot more like the regular public library.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      ” … but monitoring school libraries at some level is not censorship in my opinion.”

      Of course it’s not censorship. We are talking about children.

      One wonders how the lefties would feel about copies of The Turner Diaries being available in elementary school libraries.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    Yes, the irony is thick and BR itself sometimes seems part and parcel of misinformation spewing forth from many conservative sources – like yesterday on the DHS issue:

    Here’s what the DHC said they were doing:

    As far as I could tell, little or no mention was made about “online” disinformation in general in the Press Release but on BR, the claim was that it was about online. Not exactly the truth.

    But hey, what-a-bout-ism and outright conspiratorial thinking and it’s clear DHS is apparently lying about their true intentions!

    In the meantime, as Dick very correctly points out, another “war” on information is taking place by those who don’t want the truth told about our history nor the realities of people’s sexualities.

    More than half of the GOP refuses to acknowledge that Biden DID win the election, don’t believe science on climate or contagious disease, nor that we still have racism occurring but we can’t talk about it in the schools.

    Much of the right wing these days is all about denial of truth and realities and portrayals of things that are simply not the truth – like the misleading article about admissions issue at TJ yesterday.

    The only saving grace for BR these days is contributors like Dick who still knows what telling the truth means and does his best to follow that ethic.

    Thank You Dick!

    1. David Wojick Avatar
      David Wojick

      The PR is just talking about an example. It tells us nothing about the scope of the effort, which given the anti-right bias of the “disinformation” campaign is certainly cause for concern.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        It was SPECIFIC, read the article.

        What conservativism is all about these days IS what-about-ism , conspiracy theories, and their own brand of disinformation and lies.

        Just look at Climate and the lies, conspiracy theories and disinformation that emanate from the right on Climate, CRT, pizza-gate, elections, you name it and there is a conspiracy.

        1. David Wojick Avatar
          David Wojick

          Climate alarmism is a movement, not a conspiracy, but close enough. The evidence of 2020 election fraud is pretty strong, but still debatable. I see no lies on either side, just strong disagreement. But you calling lies is a good example of the left movement I mentioned.

          Given that border jumping is a right wing cause I see the PR as an attempt to say the new office is not left biased. So far so good.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            You’re talking about 90+% of the world’s scientists on climate that according to you folks are either wrong individually or engaging together to assert something not true.

            There was no widespread election fraud. Not a shred of evidence anywhere yet you guys still claim it so.

            Up thread – another Conservative claims that the border is not DHS business nor Russian involvement in our elections.

            You guys are all over the map here with things not true and conspiracy theories.

            That’s the state of conservatism these days.

            People like Liz Cheney, are reviled by the folks who claim to be Conservatives.

            Mitt Romney and Sens. Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, and Susan Collins, of Maine, are “pro-pedophile”.

            “Any Senator voting to confirm #KJB is pro-pedophile just like she is.

            This is what the GOP and Conservatives have become. If there are any left who oppose this, they’re too cowardly to step up and condemn it.

          2. David Wojick Avatar
            David Wojick

            Climate science has been politicized. Almost all liberals believe climate alarmism, almost all academics are liberals and almost all climate scientists are academics. It is just a matter of believing the models (which are wrong).

            Note that almost no climate scientists deal with the fundamentals. They just assume alarmism and go on from there. As Kuhn pointed out 50 years ago, this is normal science. That is, scientific communities adopt and are governed by belief systems he called “paradigms”. However, he never considered the case where the paradigm is political, which is the case with alarmism.

            My field is issue analysis and I tracked the election fraud case pretty closely. There is serious evidence of fraud. That is my expert opinion. Whether there was extensive fraud is an open question but there is certainly serious evidence. The good thing is we will know what to look for this time.

            The rest of what you say is just foolish, which is why I normally do not reply to you.

          3. LarrytheG Avatar

            Climate Science is practiced by actual credentialed scientists with decades of experience and 90+% of them say that it is real.

            it’s not about liberal or conservative. It’s about science and whether or not you believe it – for ANY field of science and if not , why not? When you don’t believe 90%, and you believe all of them that agree are also wrong – then is it a conspiracy?

            Whether there was extensive fraud is NOT an ‘open question” except in the minds of conspiracy wackos. There is NO “serious evidence” – again. It does not exist.

            What you are claiming is just plain wacka-doodle across the board IMHO.

            The only thing “expert” about is the BS.

          4. LarrytheG Avatar

            Hey – can you, will you, provide a bio of your work experience and industry affiliations? My casual search has turned up some interesting stuff. How about laying out your credentials?

          5. James McCarthy Avatar
            James McCarthy

            It’s frustrating and difficult at times but in the face of their nihilism they are worth saving. Keep the faith. You’re not alone.

    2. DJRippert Avatar

      “As far as I could tell, little or no mention was made about “online” disinformation in general …”

      What are you talking about Larry?

      Where do you think people get their information if not online? From pamphlets handed out on street corners?

      And just like, “two weeks to flatten the curve” why would you expect government to stick with their initial scope?

      DHS declined Associated Press’ request for an interview? Why?

      You comment should be translated into “Baaa, baa, baaaa language” since it seems aimed at the kind of left leaning sheeple who believe our wonderful government (as long as the leaders are liberal wokesters) never plays games with the American public.

      I don’t trust our government and neither should you.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        I was referring to what DHS said they were going to do about misinformation. They said it was about Russian and immigration, not online.

        did you read it at all?

        If you do not trust the govt , is that at all for anything or just for some stuff or what?

        You guys and your “trust” and conspiracy theories are wack-a-doodle. You say you don’t trust but right behind you is another conservative he believes Qanon or pizza-gate or other waca-doodle conspiracy theories.

        Ya’ll are all in the same tent – just different flavors?

        Do I trust the govt 100% all the time, no, I do not, but I’m way, way far away from what i hear some of you guys saying.

        Half or 3/4 of the stuff right here in BR is basically about disinformation and supposed conspiracies… these days… it seems to be what conservatives do these days.

        Have you listened to McCarthy lately? He KNOWS he’s lying but he does not care because conservatives have his back and all you guys do is blather about liberals… geeze..

    3. Neither target – Russia nor human smugglers in Cent/S. America – are within the mandate of DHS – it can only operate within the US nation-state. This entire Biden focus is a lie and/or illegal, as per US law and policy. PERIOD.

  4. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Most kids: “What’s a book?” If they want it and the library lacks it, they will find it online. So few books are being read by so few young people I don’t think the contents of the library matters whatsoever.

    Eight year old data: Bound to be lower now:

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      A lot of lawmakers don’t seem to understand that. Nor do they understand an old truth: if adults forbid something, that will encourage kids to go out and do it.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        And what will the book banners do if the libraries provide of “list” of books on a subject that they are not allowed to carry so the kids can go find them at the general libraries?

    2. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
      James Wyatt Whitehead

      The library? That place is a graveyard in schools now. If books are being checked out it is because of an assignment. 7 in 10 American teens use this daily. Here is where the minds of the future are being shaped. It is not a good place either. Lawmakers do not have their eye on the right bouncing ball.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Indeed. So what this is REALLY about is not the “books” or the CRT or the “grooming” but about a political strategy to win elections and implement charter schools. Right? The kids already know where to find information and don’t need parental or lawmaker ‘help” or rules.

    3. The kids may not read the books, but they can still look at the porno illustrations!

    4. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Snark? That’s my bailiwick.

  5. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Wait! Don’t we record our history in books? Does this mean they’re trying to change/erase our history? Or, is that only statues?

    BTW, Tennessee is not Virginia, hence not germane to this blog. There’s enough insanity in the RPV. One needn’t look to our bumpkin relations.

    $33 Billion to Ukraine?!
    “Between 2002–2011, US Congress approved $18 billion[8] in military and economic aid from the United States. However the Pakistan Treasury only received $8.647 billion in direct financial payments.”

    Well, that was $8 Billion well spent, eh?

  6. I am a lot more concerned about a federal Disinformation Governance Board being put in place than I am about state-level fights over the contents of public school libraries.

    From the article: While the Biden administration’s establishment of an effort to combat online disinformation is somewhat disquieting, its dimensions are somewhat vague. It could be no more than a federal government “fact checker.”

    Mr. Hall-Sizemore, you do not honestly believe that the powers of this new government entity are going to be limited to on-line fact-checking, do you? The fact that the word “governance” is included in the name of this board gives the lie to any argument that its mission is simply benign fact-checking.

    The word ‘governance’ has a very close friend from which it is seldom separated for very long. That friend is the word ‘control’.

    governance (n) – 1) The system by which entities are directed and controlled; 2) the act or process of governing or overseeing the control and direction of something.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      I’ve read more BS from the existing “fact checkers” than I can believe. Biden, with the aid of aid of Jen Psaki (aka Little Red Lying Hood) spew disinformation at every press conference. Will that be fact checked by the Ministry of Truth too?

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        So labeled because it’s not what you believe.

    2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      This whole affair is being blown up way out of proportion. It was handled clumsily by the Secretary of Homeland Security and, from the reaction of the President’s Press Secretary to questions about it , was not run by the White House first.

      The name of the project, Disinformation Governance Board, is unfortunate. It was sure to raise red flags. The staff member who came up with that term should be reassigned and the supervisor who approved it should leave government, either forcibly or quietly.

      It seems to be focused on two issues. The first is countering false information that migrant smugglers put out to drum up business. It is ironic that some of the folks are making the most noise about the illegal immigrants coming into this country would be criticizing the administration’s effort to stave off some that migration.

      The other issue is Russian disinformation on various fronts. It is hard to see how anyone could be opposed to that objective.

      All of the dire motives and activities, such as the creation of a state-led censorship division, attributed to this effort by its critics would be plainly against the law.

      Back to my main point, I am much more concerned about the effort to rid school libraries of all books that conservatives view as “inappropriate” than I am about this clumsy effort by the Dept. of Homeland Security to address two issues that are probably beyond its capabilities.

      1. It seems to be focused on two issues.

        For now.

      2. LarrytheG Avatar

        The name issue, yes, what idiot along with what leadership approves such a name given the times we are in?

        The bigger issue about information and disinformation is real and a serious issue given groups like Q-anon that has thousands, perhaps millions of followers and believers.

        People say they don’t trust govt, nor media (nor science also for some) but then their choice of sources to believe instead is not exactly an improvement.

        I think it is healthy to not take ANY single source as the gospel truth these days and I include especially, the govt, media and even science (especially pre-print, non-peer reviewed).

        But going from the frying pan into the fire …….

        The whole concept of a govt entity named “dept (or ministry) of information” is off-putting.

        But clearly, we have no shortage of people who will believe virtually ANY source and clearly lies, disinformation, what-about-isms, and outright conspiracy theories these days.

        BR itself plays in this game with stuff along the lines of ” we don’t know that teachers are not grooming” and it goes from there.

        How exactly is the truth to be said? How are schools supposed to counter such false information?

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