Brainiac On Banjo: Burning Down The House!

Every year many bleeding hearts tiptoe through their keyboards decrying the spread of book banning in state and local schools and libraries. And by “every year,” I mean “well, actually, every couple of days.”

As we’ve seen this month, a huge part of the Virginia gubernatorial race focused on the horrific nightmares evoked from the work of author Toni Morrison. She was the winner of the American Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Nobel Prize in Literature, the National Humanities Medal, the Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for Fiction, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and over 100 other A list awards. Lord knows, that’s not the type of person whose work you’d want in your library, is it?

Nazis doing what Nazis do.

These lists often come out of Texas because their school library habits influence purchasing patterns all over this bigoted nation… and that’s because, when it comes to electing government officials, Texas is to fascism what Florida is to prostitution.

Therefore, every year I find myself dancing across my own keyboard bitching about censorship. Technically, that word only applies to works banned by a government, so it certainly applies here. But in a democracy – yeah, I know; stop laughing! – the government acts in the name of the people, so I subscribe to the overreaching definition of that term.

Americans doing what Americans do.

As I often state, I’m not keen on censorship. I think every book, every statement, every babbling deserves mass exposure – right wing, left wing, flightless, Venusian or otherwise. Saying we have a serious problem with bigotry is merely stating history that is obvious to most except a large minority of White fools. You need not be part of a discriminated group to recognize it. All you need is a functioning brain and, clearly, if you don’t count their hive-minds about one-third of the nation ain’t got one. I don’t understand what they’re so scared of; if I’m wrong and they’re right, the truth would come out as the result of safe but unrestrained conversation. This scares the book banners shitless.

EC Comics doing what EC Comics did.

The comic book industry at long last now represents a much wider range of humanity – women, non-Whites, LGBTQ+, non-Christians, and damn near everybody else now has a seat at the table, although clearly we need more chairs and an even bigger table. That, and the ever-growing reliance on “graphic novels” and albums that could be racked in libraries, has led to an expanding list of comics that are now being censored. If this surprises you, how did you make it this far into my piece?

Of course, those graphic novels that have been on the censored lists are still there. It’s not like you can rehab a work of art, and these perennials are, indeed, works of art whether you personally happen to enjoy them or not. V For Vendetta, Y: The Last Man, The Confessions of Nat Turner (Kyle Baker’s graphic novel adaptation), Barefoot Gen, Amazing Spider-Man Revelations, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Sandman, Stuck Rubber Baby, and Watchmen – to name but a few – have been joined by – to name but a very, very few – Moonstruck, The Handmaid’s Tale (I’m referring to the graphic novel version), Tomboy, Wonder Woman Unbound, Wandering Son, Diary of a Teenage Girl, The Graveyard Book, Ice Heaven, Anne Frank’s Diary, Gender Queer, Saga, Snow Glass Apples, Miles Morales: Spider-Man, and Maus. All have been banned from various libraries in the United States.

OK, maybe if Maus had a warning sticker “This story contains Jews,” perhaps it would be removed from the black list. Mice will not replace us!

I haven’t been surprised by these lists in a couple decades, but today, you have got to figure that if the Rabid Religious Right won’t permit people of color and students and old people and the handicapped to vote, they’re not going to let people chose their own reading material. Not even in their boring determent camps.

Yeah. This is America, 2021. Fix it or lose it.