Editor’s Page – March 2023

Ban Censorship, Not Books!

Books have always been an important part of my life. No matter where I live, I have never had enough room for my books. I learn from them, enjoy the stories. Enhance my imagination. They allow me to see what life was once like in another time, another place. 

But now I look at videos of empty bookshelves and I am shocked and saddened, and downright angry about the book banning going on in schools. Being big on books, of course I’m big on education. But right now I am fearful of what is and isn’t being taught in schools. And teachers themselves are in the scope of sharp shooters’ lenses.

Governor Ron DeSantis, who is a highly educated man and a presidential hopeful, has taken it upon himself to decide what will be taught in Florida schools. That includes colleges and universities. Recently, a law was passed to penalize the educators themselves if they teach from or even if they have a banned book in their class. This includes sex education, racial topics, fine literature such as Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and other such literary treasures. Publications that have Black, Latino or LGBTQ2+ characters or authors are also included.

That’s quite a list. In the short news stories I saw, illustrated with videos of libraries with no books, I don’t know who decides what makes the list, and what doesn’t. And teachers themselves can be arrested as a felony, fined up to $2,000, and could serve as much as five years in jail if convicted. Of course, the teachers have removed their books from their classrooms or permanently covered the shelves, not wishing to chance running afoul of a legalized censorship.

And why? Governor DeSantis and his ilk dislike critical thinking and critical race theory. Diversity and inclusiveness are looked upon as being “woke,” and therefore, bad.

Authors are having a difficult time with having their work banned. According to PEN America, author Art Coulson said “I’m past being angry about school districts banning my book. Now I’m just incredibly sad for the students. If we don’t help young people learn about and confront the painful mistakes America made in the past, how can we ever hope to progress?” Coulson, is the author of Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army.

PEN America is working on keeping a list of banned books current, but the list changes frequently.

It’s tough being an educator during the current political climate in the USA. They are supposed to teach our children to live in a full spectrum society, keep them safe while they are at school, and now police the reading.

There is no place in education for censorship. I encourage everyone to read books that are banned and decide for yourself if the book deserves such a fate. If you have children or grandchildren in school, this does affect you.

Ban censorship, not books!

For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com

Victoria Schmidt
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2 thoughts on “Editor’s Page – March 2023”

  1. Re. your editorial: “Ban Censorship, Not Books.”

    It’s false of you to state that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has banned To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn from schools. In fact, Mockingbird is recommended reading material by Florida’s Department of Education for eighth-grade English language arts students.
    A few local Florida school boards have banned the books, not the state. Other school boards, including Burbank, Calif. and Philadelphia, banned Mockingbird and Finn. The stated reason is that the two books contain racial slurs.
    So you don’t get me wrong, I’m strongly against banning either of them.
    Chuck Poulsen

    1. Victoria Schmidt
      Victoria Schmidt

      Perhaps you are more correct in saying it was incomplete of me to infer he only banned those titles. These titles have been banned by others in other locations. I’m glad you are against banning at least these two titles. Unfortunately, when last in Florida, I did witness via Fox News the videos of the empty books shelves in the schools after Gov. DeSantis announced his new law. I watched it for five days during the last week of January, and several other networks as well. I couldn’t give you any specific titles from his list as it turns out he doesn’t have a list, yet. And in an abundance of caution, teachers simply covered all or removed all dare they run afoul of the new law in which they could personally be arrested, fined or jailed for having these books in their classroom or library. A few weeks ago, I saw an article about a woman who went to a school board in another state, demanding the bible be banned,

      Thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts with me,

      Sincerely, Victoria Schmidt

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