Missouri achieved a doubtful new standing lately: It broke the highest three within the record of U.S. states which have most egregiously moved to ban books from college libraries.
That’s in response to a latest report by the nonprofit Pen America, which charts the nation’s troubling slide towards reactionary right-wing crackdowns on books — together with controversial social commentary, severe political criticism and even traditional literature.
Actually, the one two states with worse information than Missouri proper now by way of college library censorship are, respectively, Florida and Texas. Sufficient stated.
Greater than 40% of the bans occurred in Florida, the place Gov. Ron DeSantis’ notorious “Don’t say ‘homosexual’” campaign in opposition to any point out of LGBTQ points at school curriculum is having its supposed impact. Texas was second with 625 bans, adopted by Missouri with 333.
Missouri in 2022 handed a regulation threatening a 12 months in jail to any educator who “supplies, assigns, provides, distributes, loans, or coerces acceptance of or the approval of the offering of express sexual materials.” It incorporates exceptions for instructing points like artwork historical past and intercourse schooling — however what instructor desires to personally check how some zealous native prosecutor will resolve to interpret these boundaries?
Like just about all the varsity curriculum crackdowns so in vogue across the nation proper now, the Missouri regulation was based mostly not on any explicit cases of pornography displaying up in lecture rooms however somewhat on the ambiance of right-wing extremism so pervasive in purple states right this moment. The Pen America research famous that totally 88% of the book-ban circumstances it recorded occurred in states that voted Republican within the 2020 presidential election.
On this political local weather, it’s no marvel college districts are yanking books from cabinets on the first signal of controversy. Because the Missouri Impartial famous lately, within the Wentzville Faculty District alone, college librarians briefly eliminated virtually 200 books, together with works by Mark Twain and William Shakespeare and even a graphic novel depicting Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Tackle.
How do campaigns in opposition to supposed obscenity morph into banning Shakespeare?
As a result of that’s the pure end result as soon as book-banning hysteria begins: It spreads like, effectively, hearth.
We have now no illusions that Missouri’s right-wing political leaders will view Missouri’s nationwide rating for intolerance as something aside from a cultural victory. Performative intolerance is, in any case, their entire venture. The query is whether or not Missouri voters will proceed to reward their ideological antics with votes.