Editorials

'Justice' becomes offensive in O'Fallon's library, so maybe 'freedom' is next?

Annetta Works-Sallee reads "Justice Makes a Difference: The Story of Miss Freedom Fighter, Esquire" to a group of children at the O'Fallon Public Library during a story hour on March 24.
Annetta Works-Sallee reads "Justice Makes a Difference: The Story of Miss Freedom Fighter, Esquire" to a group of children at the O'Fallon Public Library during a story hour on March 24.

It's a great thing when someone stands up and objects to a book. It should be cause for celebration, because it means someone stopped staring at their screen for a moment and decided a book might be relevant. The "offensive" book might be purchased and read by others to see what all the hubbub is about.

So super-lucky us: We not only got a book controversy, but a children's book controversy. That means a bunch of kids and parents are likely to read together and have a discussion about the controversial content that a woman can be president, or that planting trees can stop a desert and hunger, or that public education should help communities prosper, or that the written word could create change (Boy, better hope that last one isn't true or what you read in this space will leave Springfield a desert).

Some from the Metro East Pachyderm Club are upset with the selection of "Justice Makes a Difference: The Story of Miss Freedom Fighter, Esq." as the selection for the children's reading time at the O'Fallon Public Library. The story is about a little girl whose love of reading is nurtured by her grandmother, who put stories in the girl's path about regular people who grew up to make big changes so that the girl is inspired to do the same.

The book was labeled "indoctrination" by some of the Pachyderms, and they are right. Kids are being taught that role models show them what they can become. In fact. libraries have been indoctrinating children for more than a century.

All those library books about George Washington, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington Carver and Helen Keller about humble roots, education and impacting society long have been foisted upon malleable young minds by those paid with our public dollars. Inspiration? Nay, indoctrination to make children believe they should aspire to look outside themselves and do things for the collective good (Thanks for the propaganda, comrade librarian!)

The problem with reading is what happens when it runs up against an unimaginative, uninquisitive mind. The reason that the Holy Bible, "The Diary of Anne Frank," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Captain Underpants," "Brave New World" and "Beloved" have all made it, sometimes repeatedly, onto the banned books list is because they've fostered new thinking and questions about old ideas.

Which leads to this little bon mot from a hippie who was arguing for marijuana legalization: "Conservatives pride themselves on resisting change, which is as it should be. But intelligent deference to tradition and stability can evolve into intellectual sloth and moral fanaticism, as when conservatives simply decline to look up from dogma because the effort to raise their heads and reconsider is too great."

William F. Buckley Jr. was probably high when he wrote that.

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