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The Modern Book Burning
I still remember one of the first novel’s I read back to back. I go back to it every few years to give it another read. It was a story of the early goldrush days, the Western frontier, the harsh wasteland of the North that only a fool would try to conquer and had an underlying theme about domestication and a return to nature. It was Jack London’s “Call of the Wild”. I read it in Grade three or four and it was one of the most influential books of my childhood. As I grew older and I began to connect the dots more on the thematical elements of the novel my respect for the material only grew. A few years ago I gave it another read and really tried to study the content and drew parallels of the main characters return to his wild state to the theme’s offamous novel “Fight Club” where the main character fights the domestication of masculine behavior through his alter ego in a desperate attempt to combat his comfortable nihilistic existence. Hey, it’s my interpretation, ok!
As I grew older my reading interests began to expand vastly. I was a huge Stephan King fan, one of my favorite novels to this day is Rose Madder. A shocking blend of mythology and domestic violence. I expanded into Tom Clancy novels a little bit. I read the Harry Potter series. Eventually as my reading interests expanded I became enthralled by the hopeless work of Bret Easten Ellis. My top five novel picks of all time still include American Psycho. I ended up in the hands of Chuck Palahniuk’s book Fight Club and while it was a very enjoyable read, in my opinion his masterpiece was the novel Diary. I ended up reading through the works of Shakespeare but besides The Taming of the Shrew I found the works boring. I read through Ian Fleming James Bond novella’s. I attempted the impossibly difficult A clockwork Orange which I limped through. In College I became absolutely enthralled with Hunter S. Thompson’s work, particularly The Proud Highway.
Alas, I have gone on quite a tangent but I want to showcase that books can be an important medium. They have helped me develop my outlook of the world. They have given me hope, scared me, made me question my reality and above all else inspired me to write in both College and on this platform. I was on a small town library board for three years and in the process donated over a hundred books from my personal collection to the library. The board was comprised of about seven elderly woman who controlled the meetings with an iron fist, loved to bicker and there were always plenty of home baked goodies for me to sample. So I have some experience not only as an avid reader but also some experience in library and inventory management through volunteering.
Given this I was shocked to hear earlier last month that a region in Ontario was culling books in a library. Apparently this had become a standard practice. I understand that old, tattered and graffitied books would need to be recycled after some time. I don’t have an issue with “weeding” old books that pose a health hazard or have become unreadable. That is a completely justified use of the weeding process. What I couldn’t believe is that books were being eliminated based on content guidelines that used language such as “critical consciousness.”would have a thing or two (or a three hour long Podcast that gets through the first five pages) on the topic. The modern day book burning doesn’t require fire. Just some random board of authoritarian woke wierdos giving social justice librarians permission to become ideological gardeners, weeding out the four olds.
Old Books, Old Ideas
You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them- Ray Bradbury
So around September 13th a Canadian Broadcast Corporation report on empty bookshelves in the Ontario, Peel School Board district area prompted concern as the article citied ‘all books were removed that were published before 2008’ based on a equity weeding process. Books like “The Hungry Caterpillar”, “Harry Potter”, “Hunger Games” and eerily enough, “The Diary of Anne Frank” had been removed from the library shelves. The student reported that the shelves were empty and about 50% of the books were gone. The new process is meant to make the library more inclusive, which appears to be a pseudonym for ridding our libraries of “Old Ideas”. Mao would certainly be proud.
Now I commented on this on twitter and was accused of being a reactionary, which is probably true because I had no idea just how bad the process was. I didn’t know the rot was so deep. You have to remember that librarians have moved on since we were kids. No longer the old lady with coke glasses attached to a lanyard monitoring over the library like a maximum security prison yard, the modern librarian appears to be less concerned with the Dewey Decimal System and more about spreading “The Message” to as young of an audience as possible to grow tomorrow’s Red Guard. There is really very little accountability as I learnt, for the librarian as long as they follow specific guidelines, which gives the librarian almost carte blanche ability to design a library book collection that they believe best suits the needs of the student population. A frightening prospect given the ideological bend of todays modern librarian.
So in the article it was cited that by June the Peel library had to be purged and purge they did. The library didn’t seem very concerned and in fact doubled down on the stance.
PDSB's "equitable curation cycle" is described generally in the board document as "a three-step process that holds Peel staff accountable for being critically conscious of how systems operate, so that we can dismantle inequities and foster practices that are culturally responsive and relevant." -CBC
You have to give them credit, they're not even hiding it. How is one critically conscious? Pablo Freire is the founder of this term which refers to viewing the world through power, privilege, dominance and oppression. This is of a course a Marxist concept at heart. These libraries have to have old, oppressive and corrupted idea’s “weeded” out.
The Equitable Weeding Process
I went onto the Canadian School Libraries site and right there they have an article on “equity-informed weeding”. What upsets me is that they mix in legitimate practices in with the questionable practices. I do agree that damaged, tattered and biohazard infected novels will need to be replaced. I am ok with different books from different cultures being included, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s the equitable portion of the weeding that concerns me. Equality is making a diverse range of books available for students, equity is removing some books because they have been written by people deemed problematic as defined by the progressive and replacing them with books that undermine the identified “problematic” norms of our current society.
Just look at the above infographic. Now ask yourself, who gets to decide what is misleading or superseded. I am sure there are specific reasons in specific circumstances that may merit this. Misleading though, can easily be up to interpretation. Plenty of old books use old language, removing these books is akin to denying a period in time occurred and that certain vernacular was different in those times. In the old book the Taming of the The Shrew one could easily see that society held a different view of women and men that is reflected in the writing. Should we remove it though? The women are not helpless, once they realize their power in the novel they easily lead the men on to get their revenge. In the end of the play both sexes come together through their differences, a complementary tale of men and women. In the case of superseded, I am reminded that during COVID-19 the term vaccine was officially changed and it appeared to be not centered around the truth but to ensure that a certain narrative would be upheld. These are important considerations.
Look at the above MUSTIE graph and ask yourself if you think it could be abused, especially those who may be ideologically compromised? The classics are great for a reason and we should be preserving them while offering new books for readers to consider. The classics tend to centralize around well adapted and recognized tropes/themes in easy to understand manners for the appropriate age groups. The fact is most books will not join the time worn classics and that’s ok. I highly encourage the people reading here to give the entire page a read to understand that this is not a hidden ideology, this is a core belief that has become synonymous with Social Justice.
The new Culture
Now that we’ve seen what they are prepared to take from the library, we need to ask ourselves, what are they planning, or already put, in the place of these old books. Note that the reduced library books in my view is purposeful, less choice mean there is more likelihood that students will reach for one of the woke person’s preferred novels.
Books like Gender Queer that depict graphic sexual acts are celebrated for potentially saving “LBGT youth” lives but frequently these books are deemed to be too graphic to be read out loud in Board meetings. If a book is too vulgar for the sensibilities of Robert's Rules for Order then why the hell is it being promoted as child and teen friendly material?
Did you get upset? Were you shocked? Hold on to that shock because that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
(This section contains real images from real books available in libraries across North America. Although some of the images are disturbing I encourage you to view them. If you are disturbed by these images, remember that children are exposed to this material.)
The Education Minister has ordered a review of the practice of time based weeding. People apparently were not happy that books prior to 2008 were being removed from shelves and I understand why that’s the case but this ideological concept has been around for awhile. It appears to have progressed further and further along the ideological framework. The language around the weeding process gets more and more ideologically focused on the concepts of power and hierarchies. In my opinion it is to help get rid of the old’s so that the new ideological concepts can take hold.
How do we counter this? We gotta get more involved. I sat on a library board for a few years before I moved. It isn’t difficult or too time consuming and if you’re a book lover it gives you a new way to celebrate the reading habit in others. The woke weirdo crowd, they’ve been showing up. They’re going to meetings, they’re passing policy, if we want to make changes we have to stop playing defense. We have to show up as well and be the change we want to see in the world. Put common sense policies in place that remove the option for woke behavior in the librarian staff. The future depends on it.
They don't gotta burn the books they just remove 'em- Rage Against the Machine
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