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Port: When have the proponents of book bans ever been the good guys?

When did so many become eager to have massive corporations decide what we see and hear?

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Rob Port
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MINOT, N.D. — You'll tell me that the decision by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the entity controlling the literary legacy of Theodor Geisel, isn't really a ban. It was a business decision, you'll say.

The "free market at work," you'll say.

Except, it really wasn't. It was a political decision. "Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that protects the author's legacy, announced on Monday, March 1, that it decided to quit publishing six titles after a panel of educators and experts evaluated the author's books," Michelle Griffith reported last week .

That panel wasn't evaluating the sales performance of the books. They evaluated the content in response to political pressure from "woke" Americans who want to whitewash our cultural legacies so that they conform to modern notions.

So a figurative ban, then, which isn't any better. Especially when you consider that some are treating it as a literal ban. Online commerce giant eBay has removed listings for the offending Seuss works , though you can still find Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" or D.W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation" which glorifies the Ku Klux Klan.


Perhaps these Seuss books will live on as samizdat, traded and solid from person to person on black markets with other contraband.

Or, I suppose, you could check them out from the library. Per Griffith's article, most of North Dakota's librarians are keeping the Seuss books on the shelves . "Develop your own thought and have conversations, but don't let the media make up your mind," Janet Anderson, director of my hometown library here in Minot, told Griffith.

Aren't librarians the best? The Minot Public Library routinely promotes banned books, as do many others.

To be sure, these Seuss books have some problems. In both the art and language, the portrayals of certain ethnicities are not OK, but does that mean these books must disappear? Shouldn't we get to decide for ourselves how we handle literature or other artworks that are problematic?

When did so many become eager to have massive corporations decide what we see and hear?

When, in the history of humanity, have the book banners ever been the good guys?

It's not just Dr. Seuss.

It's Harry Potter books set afire , and a Harry Potter video game under fire , because the author, J.K. Rowling, has some challenging thoughts on transgender issues.


It's the campaign to cancel William Shakespeare because his 16th-century storytelling doesn't always conform to 21st-century mores.

All initiatives enforced, to one degree or another, by corporate behemoths eager to pander to the politics of the moment.

This is madness.

It won't end well.

One of the great challenges of living in a free society is that we are often confronted with words and images we don't like, but what's the alternative? Corporate executives and appointed experts controlling what we see and hear?

That cure is worse than the problem.

Let's stop being afraid of art.

To comment on this article, visit


Rob Port, founder of, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at .

Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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