American book banning laws: Literature censorship in the US has a long history, but this time is different: experts

NEW Fox News articles can now be heard on audio! Thomas Morton, an Englishman who arrived in Plymouth Colony in 1622, lost little time in starting a feud with his pious Pilgrim neighbors and founded a nearby settlement of English miscreants and Algonquian Indians named Merrymount.

Governor of the Plymouth Colony William Bradford dubbed Morton the “Lord of Misrule,” and he and his followers erected an 80-foot maypole with antlers on top, around which they held a feast with dancing and drinking that was undoubtedly wicked by Puritan standards.

Morton authored the “New English Canaan” about 1633 about his experiences in the colonies after being expelled from them several times and returning to England. The book, which gave a critical assessment of the Pilgrims, is largely regarded as the first banned book in America.

Ten years later, Morton returned to the colonies, but his reputation preceded him, and Massachusetts officials banished him to what would later become Maine because of the “mocking accusations Morton had hurled against them in print,” according to history professor Peter Mancall of the University of Southern California in “The Trials of Thomas Morton.”

Although Morton’s masterpiece hasn’t been read in public for nearly four decades, the desire to censor has persisted in America and has recently flared up in K–12 schools during the twenty-first century.

The number of books challenged or removed from libraries and schools in 2021, according to the American Library Association, was approximately 1,600, which is the largest amount since the ALA began keeping track of bans thirty years ago.

The head of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, told Fox News Digital that “there has been an extraordinary surge in the number of challenges reported.” “Instead of getting maybe two or three reports a week, we are now receiving many problem reports on a daily basis.”

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The majority of the complaints in recent years have been raised by conservative parents who disapprove of LGBTQ-related material and subjects that discuss racial issues in a way that they perceive to be divisive.

However, bans on books arise from all political perspectives.

Harper Lee’s 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which has long been a mainstay in high school courses, was ranked #7 on the American Library Association’s list of the most often prohibited works as late as 2020.

A Seattle-area school board earlier this year pulled the well-known American book off the 9th-grade reading list due to its use of the N-word and what some locals viewed as an out-of-date portrayal of racial issues.

Other times, book prohibitions have unintended consequences. Last month, a Texas school district temporarily removed 41 books from the library’s shelves after receiving complaints from the locals. Books featuring LGBTQ themes, such as “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” as well as “Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation” and even the Bible were among the questioned works.

Will Creeley, the legal director for the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, told Fox News Digital, “Whether you’re liberal or conservative, you need to understand that that ax swings two ways. “Regardless of your principles, raising a generation of kids who will report speech police when they hear ideas they don’t agree with is going to cause issues in the future.”

Regardless of your political leanings, you must recognize that the ax has two sides.
Changes that give parents more of a voice in the classroom have been approved by the Utah State School Board.

Some see this new front in the culture war as a symptom of America’s one-size-fits-all educational system, which compels parents to send their children to specific public schools based on seemingly random factors like their ZIP code, rather than the educational ideals they seek.

Neal McCluskey, the director of the libertarian Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, claims that families would be able to select schools that are more closely aligned with their values if school choice policies were implemented, allowing parents to choose how taxpayer funds for their children’s education are spent.

“It profoundly alters what is done with or how the funding for education is distributed. Currently, taxes are levied on individuals at the local, state, and federal levels, and the proceeds go to public schools; as a result, if you want to use the funds, you must do so through those institutions. Conflicts arise, however, when varied people are forced to attend the same school “Fox News Digital was informed by McCluskey.

“Choice suggests that we let the money follow the kids. Giving educators the freedom to open and manage their own schools is a logical extension of that.”

Bookshelves of library books stand reflected in the media center of the Newfield Elementary School on August 31, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut.

The phrase “school choice” refers to a variety of methods by which state boards can cede control to parents. Using vouchers enables parents to pay for private school tuition with public funds designated for their children’s education. By enabling families to utilize those funds for everything from tutoring to at-home curricula, education savings accounts go a step further.

“That puts an end to the conflict, or at least eliminates the need for it. The advice reads, “Go seek whatever ring you want, go choose a school that is aligned with your ideals, rather than saying you all have to fight to grab the brass ring,” “said McCluskey.

Instead than forcing everyone into a ring to fight for control of a single school, everyone gets to do that.

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While the majority of the conflicts over book bans have occurred at the municipal and state levels, First Lady Jill Biden spoke out last week.
“There should be a library for every book. every book, “She spoke with NBC News. “We are in America. We do not outlaw literature.”
“We are in America. We do not outlaw literature.”

As part of “National Read a Book Day,” the former first lady Melania Trump sent a selection of 10 Dr. Seuss books to schools across the country in 2017. This was her own experience with book challenges.

The books were turned down and returned to Trump by Liz Phipps Soeiro, the librarian at Cambridgeport Elementary School in Massachusetts. She wrote in the Horn Book Blog that the books weren’t needed in her library and that “Dr. Seuss’ illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.”

A Dr. Seuss book is seen as children play at the Children's Museum of Manhattan.

Battles over book bans occur on a spectrum, from librarians rejecting books to school districts withdrawing books after parental objections to state governments outright forbidding some works.

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Government-mandated censorship, according to Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, is the most worrisome type of restriction.
She asserted that “everyone, including parents, has the ability and the right to express concerns with a homework assignment or a book.”

“That’s the First Amendment right to petition a government agency, but we are deeply concerned about efforts by elected officials, governing bodies that are subject to the First Amendment, who are attempting to censor materials based on their viewpoint or because they approach a contentious issue in a manner with which they may not always agree,” the statement continued.