In 2005, I owned a couple of mom-and-pop music stores in Alaska. A sizable store on the Kenai Peninsula and a smaller satellite store in the place Alaskans refer to as “a quaint little drinking town with a fishing problem,” Homer.
I was looking to hire a person to run the register, but who also loved and knew a lot about music. A young guy walked in one day, fresh out of high school, who said he’d always wanted to work at the “Music Box.” He was wearing a pair of tennis shoes that were so bright I wondered where he plugged them in, and had rusty colored hair. Turns out his name was Rusty, and after a quick interview, I hired him on the spot.
A few months later he came into work wearing a black tee shirt with large, white-colored letters that read: I READ BANNED BOOKS.
What’s an employer to do?
I suppose if this employer was worried that some customers might take offense of this slogan, said employer would have asked this person to go change his shirt. Instead, I beamed with pride knowing I’d hired the right person for the job.
A brief history of banned books
Banned books, whether they are outlawed, ripped back into pulp, or piled high and burned have always been symbolic—for me—of ignorance; of the purposeful intent to eliminate from history the achievements of a race or an individual; and/or the ostentatious act of being a pompous ass aligned with a puritan set of ideals involving a malicious ideology.
The Chinese may have been the first to barbecue the written word back in 213 BCE, when they purportedly burned texts along with a live burial of 460 Confucian scholars.
The Nazi’s burned 25,000 books in 1933—but we would expect no less from them.
The Book of Acts records that Christian converts in Ephesus burned books of magic. Again, we would expect no less from them either. Acts 19:19.
And if you can believe this questionable source printed by the Landover Baptist Church—which states “burning banned books is nothing new to True Christians . . . [they] invented the practice over two thousand years ago.”
Critical Race Theory and banning books
These days, it’s the GOP that’s leading the charge to ban books, which it justifies within the context of critical race theory.
If you’re unfamiliar with critical race theory, think of it in terms of the politicization of Christian ideology and the concerted efforts of republicans to ban books they deem too offensive for you or your children to read.
If you are following politics and the governor’s race in Virginia, the “Fight over teaching ‘Beloved’ book in schools … [has become a] hot topic . . .”
So hot in fact, that banning certain books is what Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin is running on in the final days of this political race. Which means, he and the GOP in general, view banning books as one of the most pressing issues that is on the minds of Americans today.
Me thinks they be misinformed . . .
The book Youngkin would like to see banned is Toni Morrison’s Beloved.
As an author myself, I wanted to make sure that I include a link to her book here, because having a banned book—IMO—is like hitting the jackpot. For what republicans don’t understand, is that while an unbanned book is almost sure to garner space on the shelf of obscurity, banning a book virtually guarantees its place in history.
Please Ban my book
Here’s a link to my totalitarian novel at Barnes and Noble. (I hope it makes the list of banned books one day!)