Sunday’s Gallimaufry

  • Homeowner captures an alligator to bring home and show his kids, Texas officials sayIn yesterday’s news, we heard that a Texan captured an alligator to bring home and show his kids. Those on Facebook who saw my post about this story weren’t amused. Needless to say, he wasn’t allowed to keep it. No word on the kids’ reactions. Frankly, I think this looks too large to be a pet.
  • I’m happy to see that Smoky Zeidel, my colleague at Thomas-Jacob Publishing, has come out with a new edition of Who’s Munching My Milkweed. This edition features her husband Scott’s cool artwork. The book is currently available as an e-book and a paperback, with the hard cover to appears shortly. From the publisher: When Ms. Gardener discovers something has been munching on her milkweed plants, she embarks on a fun and educational monarch butterfly journey that enchants both children and adults. From egg to larvae (caterpillar), to pupa (chrysalis) to adult (butterfly), Ms. Gardener watches over her friends to ensure they make the journey safely.”
  • According to Publishers Weekly, attempts to ban books have been rising. “New headlines virtually every day tell the story: across the country, there is an unprecedented spike in attempts to ban books from schools and libraries. And while efforts to remove books from schools and library collections are not uncommon, librarians and freedom to read advocates warn that this current spike in challenges is different, as it appears to be part of a broader political strategy.” We must remain viligant.
  • No photo description available.My wife and I are planning a long-awaited trip to Maryland to see the granddaughters. COVID kept us away last year. One year, our rental car was so snowed in, we couldn’t use it. Everyone took turns shoveling away the towering drift. We definitely don’t want to come home with another photograph like this one.

Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving.

Malcolm

If your beliefs are weak, ban books with opposing beliefs

One man who challenged the Harry Potter books did so because he believed the spells in the book are actual curses that summon demons. My response to that “logic” is:

  1. Can you prove it?
  2. If these purported demons appear, isn’t your faith sufficient protection?

No, of course he can’t prove it, and one reason he can’t is that he doesn’t know how spells work, and for most people considering his charge, he’s going to need some evidence. Show us the demons.

Suppose he produces the evidence. Can his faith not protect him? Apparently he’s unsure.

Most book challenges sound about this cowardly and absurd. That is, rather than disseminating opposing information to give readers an alternative, people choose to take the offending book off the shelves if they can:

Do you remember a game show called “The Weakest Link”? Banning these books shows that because an individual says, “I don’t like them so we should remove them from the library so that nobody else can read them,” we say, “okay,” and demonstrate the weakest link system of decision making.

We can do better. If we can’t, we’ve let things go too far and the contry is now in the hands of people who can’t think and/or who are scared to think, much less engage in a dialogue about opposing ideas.

You can fight the weakest links by reading everything they don’t like and asking your friends to do the same.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing

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Parents Can Put Librarians in Jail if Parents Don’t Like a Library’s Books

Jefferson City, Missouri, March 3, 2020, Star-Gazer News Service–The Missouri House announced here today that when a bill proposing Gestapo-style Parental Advisory Committees is passed and signed into law, your favorite librarian may end up in the slammer.

House Representatives Jack and Monique (not their real names) admit that while it “takes a lot of arrogance to tell other people what they can and cannot read, such people can’t help themselves.”

According to informed spokespersons, the parental committees will be composed of adults who swear on a stack of comic books that “I don’t know anything about books, but I know what I don’t like.”

Dixon Ticonderoga, president of the Broken Pencil Think Tank, told reporters that studies show that teens read banned books sooner than other books.

“The bottom line is this: Banning books ensures that the age groups you don’t want to read the book will read then in greater numbers than they would if you just shut the hell up,” he said.

Librarians–who asked not to be named in print–noted that a “Missouri State Assessment of Adult Literacy (SAAL) conducted in 2003, 35% of Missouri adults have prose literacy skills at or below the basic skill level. In addition, 26% of Missouri adults are at or below the basic skills level in document literacy and 49% are at or below the basic skill level in quantitative literacy.”

Jack and Monique admit that the SAAL assessment shows that the parental committees will be “an example of the blind leading the stupid, and that’s what democracy is all about.”

Story filed by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter

 

PEN America to Focus on the Right to Read in the Nation’s Prisons 

“America’s prison system implements that largest book ban in the United States. This year, as part of national Banned Books Week (Sept. 22 – 28), the free expression and literary organization PEN America will launch a weeklong initiative to shed light on the practice of banning books in the nation’s prisons and jails. ‘Literature Locked Up: Banned Books Week 2019’ will feature events across the country, online activities, and public education to highlight restrictions of the right to read for the 2.2 million people currently incarcerated in the United States.”

Source: As Part of National Book Banning Week, PEN America to Focus on the Right to Read in the Nation’s Prisons – PEN America

We hear about prisoners’ lack of access to books from time to time, but it always seems isolated to one jail or another. That obscures the issue. Book banning in prisons is worse than all the book challenges in all the school and public libraries put together.

We’re not talking about books with titles like “How to Tunnel out of Sing Sing” or “Bomb Making for Dummies.” I often wonder under what authority does the warden or those he reports to ban the same titles the rest of us are reading.

I hope PEN America’s initiative brings the problem to the attention of more people and shows how pervasive it is.

Malcolm