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Letter: Valley City community protests book banning crusade, not the book

Vicki Voldal Rosenau of Valley City writes about efforts to ban a sex education book at the Barnes County Public Library.

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It’s not really about the book at all. It’s about the local right wings flagrantly flexing their self-righteous muscle during a pivotal midterm election season.

The book, of course, is the sex-education book “Let’s Talk About It” in the Valley City Barnes County Public Library that the Times-Record has very inappropriately targeted in two separate, long-winded stories.

No, the extremists’ intentionally divisive kerfuffle isn’t really about the book, and it isn’t about the definition of pornography, either.

It’s all about trotting out one of their most time-worn political recipes: deliberately create contentious hubbubs, thus agitating their loyal partisans in order to make sure that they turn out to vote for whatever right-wing candidates are on the ballot.

The perpetrators may succeed in riling their own base, but their views are clearly in the minority and they don’t seem to be gaining many new converts. Library staff report receiving verbal support for their anti-censorship policy, and social media brims with community disapproval of the “ban the book” fiasco. Both the would-be book banners and the local newspaper that abetted them came in for harsh criticism on Facebook.

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Here are seven examples:

  • “I attended the library board meeting
    today [Sept. 15]. They (the library board members) were very prepared and professional with their approach to the discussion...I want to give thanks to the librarians who offered their professional insights on the matter. They are highly trained in library collections management (and) very knowledgeable about how to operate our library. They are well informed on matters of book banning and restricting access to knowledge.”
  • “Who prompted the paper to look into this? The article reads as if the paper originated the inquiry. My journalism professors liked to say ‘the media shouldn’t make itself the news’ and this article sounds like that’s exactly what you’ve done.”
  • “…It’s obvious that the Editor (of the Times-Record) didn’t find the book himself. So he is simply attempting to inflame the public.”
  • “Nonsense like this is why I read the Times-Record at the library instead of subscribing. Poorly researched, inaccurate, and inflammatory—"
  • “Our City and County leaders need to get a backbone, and at least do minimal research before making claims of inappropriate.”
  • “In the Long Arc of History, no people who actively ban/burn books are the good guys in the end.”
  • “Banning books never ends well.”

As it’s turning our community is protesting the book-banning crusade, not the book.
Vicki Voldal Rosenau lives in Valley City, N.D.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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