The US State of Florida has recently seen the introduction of HB 1647, better regarded as a measure designed to remove various books from school libraries. We are told these measures are to protect children, but protect them from what?
Books like The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (which is meant to be a challenging, emotional read), The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (also meant to be an emotionally charged story), and of all tales, Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl, are among the titles being banned as ‘inappropriate. Some of those tasked with enforcing the legislation have pointed out how vague, and at times, contradictory, it all is.
Alongside this law, Florida has introduced other new rules, relating to materials about the LGBT community, and race. This trio of laws seem designed to curtail expression, not protect children.
It would be fascinating to know what the very enforcers of these laws would make of the Bible being banned for inappropriate material. After all, the Old Testament has graphic depictions of violence throughout its pages. Is that material that children should read? If so, why would that be acceptable, but Revolting Rhymes be deemed unacceptable?
Predictably, the conservative religious right is rallying in support of this move, and creating false flags to denounce its detractors. The opposition to this bill is not to permit children access to pornographic material (as some right-wing commentators have claimed). It is to ensure that access to materials relating to black history, the LGBT community, and women’s rights are not oppressed. If the bill succeeds, it is only a matter of time before the conservative right eats itself over it anyway, when someone proposes banning material another conservative believes is absolutely fine. That will be an interesting conversation!