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Opinion: Against book banning with one exception
Books

There’s a nationwide movement to ban selected books in the educational system. My initial reaction was that banning books in America is wrong — against our free thought and free speech principles. Days later, however, I realized that I would make one and only one exception. I’d like to ban all copies of my seventh grade civics textbook. Here’s why:

The textbook didn’t mention that voting was not accessible for all Americans then, and that high government officials actively blocked some citizens.

Explaining how a bill was passed in Congress, there was not one paragraph, not even one line about tradeoffs, riders, pleasing special interest groups, bribes or bowing to pressure from powerful corporations.

There was no economic explanation of why a candidate would spend huge contributed sums to get elected to a job that paid a fraction of what it cost to get there. Would the successful candidate be obligated to pay supporters back in some way? Could there have been agreements like that before contributions came in? Here too, the book remained silent.

That textbook practically knighted public figures when describing them. As a wide-eyed naïve student, I wrote one of our congressmen, and felt honored to get a response. Years later, after learning much more about publicized devious dealings, I lost my eagerness to have a personal letter from a congressman. Many of them didn’t merit the textbook’s praise.

You get the point already. That civics book author meant well, I’m sure. Yet a mature analysis confirms the book was misleading, inaccurate and wrong, by what it included and what it omitted.

I love my country. I wouldn’t live anywhere else. My patriotism makes me especially grateful for the media, authors and investigative bodies who have opened our eyes to the behind-the-scenes conduct of many of the imperfect people in charge of our system. On the positive side, I applaud leaders who courageously strive to maintain our heritage as the land of the free.

Bill Lampton

Gainesville