The top left corner of Monday’s New York Times tackled the “book bans” in Idaho and Iowa. “Culture Wars Put Librarians On Front Lines,” warned the headline. “Combating Book Bans and Threats of Jail.” Reporter Elizabeth Williamson began with how a “Rainbow Squad” of teenagers caused a ruckus at the library in Post Falls, Idaho. This went on for 2,600-plus words and the entirety of page A-16.
But wait – what about “book bans” or challenges from the Left? Are those not News, too? It turns out that Williamson had another story – this time from Maine, where the lefties tried to stop the “anti-trans” book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters by Abigail Shrier. But that story was about 800 words….and didn’t make the paper. That headline:
‘My Heart Sank’: In Maine, a Challenge to a Book, and to a Town’s Self-Image
The obvious question: Why wouldn’t the Times take these two stories and merge them, instead of highlighting the anti-conservative narrative and burying the opposite “book ban” activists? This underlines how the Narrative is everything. The comparatively hidden fraction would upset the Times subscribers, so that can’t be front-page material.
A huge photo at the top of A-17 is the book Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe. Over the cover of the book is Idaho librarian Denise Neujahr talking about her "Rainbow Squad" teens. "They're really good kids. It just makes me so sad that they have to go through all this hate. This is not what libraries stand for."
Naturally, Williamson and the Times chose to censor the actual disputed images and text. Their subhead was 'What Is Explicit Is Subjective," but this is how they summarized the book's contents: "The author, who is nonbinary, explores puberty and sexual identity in the book, which includes some drawings of nudity and sexual scenarios."
So they won't show or describe Kobabe envisioning having her imaginary penis in mid-fellatio, as well as talk of masturbation and blow jobs. Conservatives are criticized for not even reading the "banned books," but the Times sheltered their own readers from the explicit content. Aren't leftists the open-minded ones?
The Maine story has a hero: the best way to demonstrate leftist censorship is to donate conservative books to the library and watch what happens:
Wealthy, liberal-leaning Blue Hill prided itself on staying above the fray — until the library stocked a book that drew anger from the left.
Rich Boulet, the director of the Blue Hill Public Library, was working in his office when a regular patron stopped by to ask how to donate a book to the library. “You just hand it over,” Mr. Boulet said.
Boulet was sad when the book was Irreversible Damage, but in the spirit of the librarian lobby, decided to include it. (He didn't do it on his own. He was pushed.)
Many transgender people and their advocates say the book is harmful to trans youth, and some have tried to suppress its distribution.
“If I’m being totally honest, my heart sank when I saw it,” Mr. Boulet recalled.
There was community outrage. "One patron told him that if a trans youth checked out the book and died by suicide, 'that’s on you,' Mr. Boulet recalled. Critical Facebook posts and negative Google reviews poured in."
It's a fascinating story. It's too bad it couldn't make the "paper" edition.
PS: The contrast in the American Library Association quotes in these two stories is the best cognitive dissonance:
“We’re no longer seeing a parent have a conversation with a teacher or librarian about a book their child is reading,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. “We’re seeing partisan groups demand the removal of books that they’re told are bad books, that they are not even reading, because they don’t meet the political or moral agenda.”
Hidden leftist censorship story:
Mr. Boulet appealed to the American Library Association for a public letter of support, which it offers to libraries undergoing censorship efforts. “They ghosted me,” he said.
Asked about the letter, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the A.L.A.’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, said Mr. Boulet’s request had generated internal debate, and delay.
“Our position on the book is, it should remain in the collection; it is beneath us to adopt the tools of the censors,” she said in an interview. “We need to support intellectual freedom in all its aspects, in order to claim that high ground.” Months after Mr. Boulet requested the letter, Ms. Caldwell-Stone saw him at a conference and apologized.