Showing posts with label book banning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book banning. Show all posts

Friday, September 29, 2023

I Was Thinking About Getting a Passport

Image by Anna ZieliƄska from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now, haunt them after I'm deleted.  

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring Dana: Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device 

"Without opening your door, you can open your heart to the world." -Lao Tzu

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders),  

I visited Mexico, once, in the late eighties, and I've been to Canada a few times. At the time all I needed to get into Canada, and return, was my driver's license. 

I needed a driver's license to get back into the USA from Mexico but when wild-eyed Walter and I walked over the bridge from Brownsville to Matamoros the gentleman in a booth on the Mexican side merely nodded to us as we strolled by.

I always thought it would be cool to have a passport and when, a few years back, I heard that Americans now needed a passport to travel to/return from either country it occurred to me that I should think about getting a passport, "just in case."

However, I'm not much of a traveler these days, never have been really, so I wasn't in a hurry. 

{A few years back? That policy went into effect 1/1/2008, 15 years ago!}

Thanks for pointing that out, Dana. 

Since then, things in Mexico have gotten a little too interesting in my opinion; I've seen Niagra Falls at least twice from the Canadian side — well worth the trip — but heading north out of Ohio (Canada's deep South) instead of in the opposite direction is nowadays counter-intuitive to me. 

Also, I came across a news story recently that has me wondering if things in Canada might be getting a little too interesting as well.

There's an ongoing kerfuffle concerning book banning in American schools. 

{You never tire of the K-word do you?}  

Being a former bibliophile (my ardor for books, not unlike many former fascinations, has diminished) and a dude who read and enjoyed Fahrenheit 451 way back when, book-banning stories always catch my eye. 

I admit that as a parent, grandparent, and semi-rational H. sapien that I have no problem with parents who are trying to get what amount to graphic sex manuals removed from little Johnny's/Joanie's/J's school library.

Unfortunately, many a news report on specific examples of this phenomenon paint all the parents involved as far-right wingnuts, homophobes, etc. but often what the parents are objecting to is content that's so graphic that... Well, here's an example:

Personally, what I find shocking is the willingness of many people/parents to bend over backward, in a rush to non-judgment of age-inappropriate books, or anything else, to demonstrate how accepting, fair, and open-minded they are. 

If it feels good, or right, do it — or steal it, or set it on fire, or beat them up, or...

Here's a looong article from titled Closed Book — I watched "book bans" happen in real time. I thought they were all hysteria. Then I opened one of the most challenged titles — written by Aymann Ismail.

Long article short, Mr. Ismail admits the book in question, It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie H. Harris, freaked him out, but only sort/kinda, cause he's a very sophisticated dude. 

But he also admits that although it's supposed to be appropriate for kids 10 and up he wouldn't want his kids reading it once they reach the age of ten.  

He goes on and on (and on) about why graphic sex manuals with illustrations, for kids and teens, are not necessarily a bad thing, and quotes experts, mentions book bannings, beats up on conservative Christian parents, and also... 

{Okay, fine, so now we know you're not sex-positive. What's this got to do with...}

Canada? Well, I don't know how he feels about graphic sex manuals for kids and teens, but the Ontario Minister of Education and some... enthusiastic librarians at the Erindale Secondary School have come up with an interesting way to protect kids from the pernicious threat of Pasty Patriarchical Hegemonistic Euro-imperialism — equity-based book weeding.

{You spelled patriarchal wrong.}

Yes, I did. 

The Harry Potter and Hunger Games books are history. Another looong (but much more interesting article as it's often unintentionally hilarious) on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation website tells the tale.

"In May, [Mary]Takata says the shelves at Erindale Secondary School were full of books, but she noticed that they had gradually started to disappear. 'This [school] year, I came into my school library and there are rows and rows of empty shelves with absolutely no books,' said Takata...'

'In the spring,' Takata says students were told by staff that 'if the shelves look emptier right now it's because we have to remove all books [published] prior to 2008.'"

Where did all the books go? Why 2008? 

Ontario's Education Minister, the Honourable Stephen Lecce issued a directive and then a... 

{You spelled Honorable wrong.}

No, I didn't. 

As best I can tell — it's a complicated story and none of the parties involved are accepting blame — Mr. Lecce, based on the results of a report he commissioned, ordered an "equity-based weeding" of library books at Mary Takata's high school which is under the control of the Peel District School Board (PDSB). 

The 46-page report determined that the PDSB was running a district (45% South Asian, 17% white, 10% black, 6% East Asian, 5% Middle Eastern, 17% Others) that was a hotbed of anti-black racism in need of multiple reforms.

The equity-based "weeding" ordered by Ontario's Honourable Minister of Education was for all books published 15 or more years ago (2008). The librarians were to examine each and every book and apply an acronym, MUSTIE, to determine its fate. 

Was the book Misleading, Unpleasant (physical condition... in theory), Superseded, Trivial, Irrelevant, or Elsewhere? You can discover details by reading the article. 

Unfortunately/hilariously, the librarians simply tossed all books published prior to 2008 in the trash. Allegedly, this was a mistake, a miscommunication. Personally, I hope they did it on purpose and are still exchanging secret smiles, or laughing out loud when hanging out at the librarian's water hole after work. 

The relevant parties aren't doing any finger-pointing, Canadians being much nicer people than ugly Americans. However, they've all issued bum-covering statements that read like they were composed by lawyers.

Big BUT, the members of a newly formed local organization called Libraries Not Landfills would like some answers. 

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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