Letter to the editor: Banning and rewriting books

To the editor:

On Wednesday, Froma Harrop informed readers in her editorial “Threatening librarians is barbaric” that our good legislators to the east of us in Missouri have passed a measure that librarians could be put behind bars for having books in their libraries that local authorities have determined as “off limits.” Objectionable subjects include books viewed as pornographic and those dealing with gay and transgender issues.

One solution for offensive books, noted by Ms. Harrop, is to handle them like a librarian handled them in her youth. Certain offensive books were kept on a shelf under the counter and were checked out only upon a specific request. Ah, such a simpler time.

Rich Lowry then shared his dislike of rewriting objectionable books, “Rewriting books is cultural vandalism.” A few books for children have recently been rewritten by Puffin Books to promote “inclusion and accessibility in children’s literature.” They went about this by primarily removing and replacing offensive words and phrases, like replacing “enormously fat” with “enormous.”

Inclusion is a goal shared by many, but particularly those on the left who might see outdated language as a detriment to inclusion because it often does not reflect current treatment of social and political issues. They do forget, though, that outdated language offers an opportunity to look at how things were and compare them to the present.

Banning books and rewriting books to conform to current societal standards are two sides of the same coin. Both are equally dangerous because they limit our opportunity to learn and explore.

Ken Grotewiel,



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