Utah schools pull books. We should give more credit to students, writes George Pyle

Parents who want to ban books, as Utah Parents United suggests, are doing children a huge disservice.

(Thibault Camus | AP Photo) In this photo from September 21, 2012, American novelist Toni Morrison applauds as she attends the America Festival at the United States Embassy in Paris.

Goldie: “I can’t decide what to get my brother for his birthday.”

Ruth: “A book is always nice.

Goldie: “No. He already has a book.

– “Rowan and Martin’s laughter, “California. 1968

My father would have made a good newspaper editor. He was an informed and critical reader, consuming two or three daily newspapers, the Sunday New York Times, various weeklies and monthly, and local and national television news.

He was smart enough not to believe every word, partly because it was just read well and partly because, as city manager for many years in two small prairie towns, he was often the subject of newspaper articles and radio and television articles. Most of the time, he said, they got it right. But not always.

So when the local theater company changed the lyrics to George and Ira Gershwin’s song From “The things you are likely to read in the Bible …” to “The things you choose to read in The News, you don’t necessarily have to,” my dad laughed at it.

As I continued my career in journalism, my father had a suggestion for me. Each day, at the top of the first page, each newspaper should have a line that says, “We estimate today’s news is XX% accurate.” You know, kind of like the weather forecast which says a 60% chance of rain.

It shouldn’t be ashamed, he said, that a newspaper’s editors take a close look at each day’s product and frankly proclaim their best-informed guess that it was probably 75% correct, 87% correct. or 99%, depending on what was happening that day. . It would be an honest, trust-building assessment with readers, from the newspaper of that day based on its own reporting, on press releases, on anonymous sources, on dispatches from distant battlefields, on things that the newspaper’s own reporters had witnessed in relation to. information filtered by official sources, credible experts or semi-reliable gossip channels.

It is not the thought of a man who reads only one or two sources of information and trusts them completely. It is the product of a mind that has read a lot and notices that the more you read, the less certain you are of becoming just about everything.

And this is apparently what really scares some people.

In schools from Spotsylvania County in Virginia to Texas (of course) to Utah, some parents and even some school board members light the old stove burning books out of proto-fascist fear of what books are and of what education is.

This is probably an emanation of the desire to stifle critical race theory. Because it is difficult to ban something that does not exist and cannot be defined, some turn to more tangible targets. Mostly, it seems, novels by Pulitzer Prize-winning Toni Morrison, who writes about what it’s like to be black in America.

The Beyond the Books team at KUTV Salt Lake City discovered a training video released by a group called Utah Parents United that encourages parents not only to oppose books in school libraries, but also to call the police if they find something they think is offensive.

KSL reports that the Canyons School District high school libraries pulled nine books, including Morrison’s “The bluest eye“And this book by Vladimir Nabokov,”Lolita. (Which just means that kids in those schools are even less likely to catch the reference in the police’s ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me’.)

Many of the targeted tomes deal with sex, race, violence and misery through the eyes of adolescent protagonists. Some of them, from descriptions in news articles, can be more than a little racy. But the purpose of education is to learn to assimilate and assimilate just about all the thoughts and emotions that humans are capable of in a way that empathizes rather than corrupting the soul.

If “Lolita” was the only book a person, especially a teenager, has ever read, that could be a problem.

The right way is not to ban anything. It’s about mixing every thought and argument into a strong mix of many other thoughts and arguments so that none of them push someone totally wrong. To be able to judge this book against all these other books.

This is the only way to determine what percentage of accuracy each achieves.

George Pyle, reading the New York Times at The Rose Establishment.

Georges pyle, Salt Lake Tribune opinion writer hasn’t read “Lolita” or “The Bluest Eye.” Or almost enough novels. he read Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” – because it was required reading in college – and enthusiastically recommends it.

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Twitter, @debatestate

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