Banning books



When and how was it that American journalists became so contumelious toward the U.S. working class?

On second thought, let me rephrase that to head off the comments from conservative critics of the media who imagine a long history of bias.

When and how was it that American journalists judged it publicly cool to badmouth blue-collar America?

Case in point: “Watching the videotape of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough school board meeting on April 22, you can actually see America’s IQ points circle the drain and slip away.”

These are the words of Washington Post book writer Ron Charles pontificating on something he imagined was done by the ignorant, country bumkins of “The Valley,” as other residents of the Anchorage metro area know the land the city’s upper class considers the home of the “trailer trash”.

From reading Twitter – where you can daily find the well-researched and always accurate reporting of one Donald Trump, president of the United States (POTUS) – Charles concluded “the Mat-Su Borough District School Board voted 5-2 to ban five books from MSBSD schools.”

Only it didn’t.

The books in question weren’t banned from schools, and there is no plan to do so.

Charles either failed to watch the videotape he linked or he didn’t watch it closely, because in that recording one of the members of the Board leading the push to remove books from a class curriculum very clearly states that “I don’t want the books to disappear. I think (students) should have a right to go read these books.”

What the Board did do was remove the books from the “High School English Election Curriculum.” That might have been a bad decision – public entities make bad decisions all the time – but nobody was planning a pyre in Palmer, a bonfire in Big Lake, or a war on literature in Wasilla.

The American Nazi party had not succeeded in filling Mat-Su School Board seats with card-carrying party members.

When this was pointed out to the local newspaper – the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman which first tweeted the inherently inflammatory words “book ban” – it corrected its reporting to accurately describe what happened, and later wrote another story headlined “Not a full ban.”

Whatever a “not full ban” might be.


By then, of course, it didn’t matter. The book ban version of reality was off and running unchecked like a new coronavirus:

The kicker came when Alaska reporter Dermot Cole, a former columnist for the Anchorage Daily News, lambasted the Frontiersman for correcting its original story.

“The newspaper was wrong to post a correction on its story saying, ‘The original version of this story included the word ban. The books were not banned, but rather removed from the curriculum,'” he wrote.

“The books were banned from the curriculum.”

And what curriculum would that be? Well, according to the teachers who explained things to the Board, it would be the curriculum for an English elective for juniors and seniors that would only be offered if there were enough juniors and seniors interested in the class.

An aged journalist, Cole was playing the favorite word game of old-school journalists called “it might be wrong but it’s not really wrong.” Historically, this was done to avoid the need to write “corrections,” which many thought made their newspapers (if you remember those) look bad because everyone knew how accurately processing huge volumes of information and condensing it into a story in a brief period of time was a task so simple any idiot could do it.

With the internet today revealing just how difficult the job is, the myth of flawless reporting is dead. But it has been replaced by the need of partisans to paint black and white the big, American world of greys.

So Cole pulled up his partisan pants, zipped them shut, and took the defense of a journalistic mistake to a whole new level.

You can only feel sorry for someone who can’t tell the difference between books being banned from schools and books being removed from a reading list for a class that might or might not happen.

Read the rest of this column at


  1. Nice obfuscation job, Craig!! Wow! So removing the books from the list of books that would be available for an elective class, which would presumably be for college prep, isn’t a bad thing. Because the books are still available, just tucked into the library where one would have to seek them out to find them. And it isn’t bad they were removed from the list, because the class may not happen anyway, yeah. So, school, more to the point, elective english, is no longer about exposing the young mind to ideas or view points that might require them to think about the ramifications of a life in a time or environment that they would never otherwise experience. I read the list, I find it notable that a book written to advance socialism beat out one illustrating the plight of a black girl growing up, unaided, in the south in the 1930s. Ill advised to attempt to redirect intellect when it is developing.

    • You’re missing the point here. The story isn’t about the morality of removing certain books from a school’s curriculum. The story is about the politicization and polarization of the press in a digital age. Journalism was once about the pursuit of truth. It has drifted far from that target nowadays.

  2. This book wasn’t banned, but maybe it was one that should have been. It borders on smut, and has poor taste for growing pre-18 minds. I don’t want my juvenile reading about guilting a sex victim into thinking his ejaculate stain was her fault. What a sick mind. A felon. Brainwashes her into liking it. There is banning, and there is burning. Don’t confuse the two.

  3. I remember when I was twelve my parents got into a snit over my reading “The Catcher in The Rye” by Salinger.This was in the late 60’S. They complained to the school that the Librarian let me check it out. Unbeknown to my parents I was already reading more mature literature. I was reading Faulkner, Wolf, O’Henry, Orwell, PG Woodehouse, Lord Bryon, Frost, Somerset, etc. GASP! I even read Fanny Hill by John Cleland, and many others. I especially enjoyed the English Authors the most, although John Steinbbeck was a big American favorite of mine. All these books will grow you up some, they give a slice of grown up reality, perhaps a caution, epic tales of bravery, all while pondering the road not taken and dealing with the one you did. I can truly understand the era and my overly religious parents getting upset over some word or a concept in a book, thank God they never took a gander at my Richard Bratigan books, their head probably would have exploded! I just wonder why with every image, every word without filter on the internet and on cable, on the radio, in video games, in rap music why a book is dangerous to look at. Schools in my day taught you how to think, not what to think. I later just learned to hide my books because if “Letter’s From Earth” by Mark Twain was ever found, I probably wouldn’t be allowed to have a book ever again! Knowledge and knowing is not dangerous, ignorance is a far more liability .

  4. Just a post script, I was taught how to read before kindergarten, by that time I had probably a reading level of a third grader, so that Dick and Jane crap really didn’t do it for me. God was that boring uninspired reading! I sincerely hope thay are not doing that Dick and Jane crap because that would put any young child off from reading!

  5. Good on Craig for his opinion.
    I’ve commented on the Facebook wars ongoing about the controversy. Such exaggeration. Most opposed are liberals, definitely, who are interested in pushing on line of thought–U.S. bad. However, that’s expected.
    The troubling part is the use of the word ban. As noted by many of the commenters here, nothing was banned.
    School boards and parents have a duty to the kids.
    What they did was to change a reading list.
    Same was done when I was in HS way back in the 60s.
    We don’t ban books in this country, the day we do, I will be out there to help restore the Constitution.
    The only book banned from a classroom is the Bible.
    We all need to be concerned about that.

  6. Reading imprints different thought, reasoning and common sense. For the young, reading gives different perspectives of perceptions of reality. To be truly ‘educated’, one must be well rounded in different viewpoints and possible results or repercussions of those viewpoints. To exclude (ban/restrict) youngsters from learning of the pros and cons of any philosophy, is much worse than the opposite approach. They should be able to read it all and form their own opinions with guidance from elders and parents that will help them throughout their life. At home teaching in rudimentary respect, courtesy, curiosity and the impact of life decisions should be enforced by “schooling”. That is not happening currently and has not happened for several decades. The propaganda being pushed by most schools is strictly for the benefit of socialism/leftism, not the students or their perspective of life as an adult. Banning/restricting access to any genre of literature is a communist and nazi tactic that leaves the aspiring “student” without any but radical, leftist, extreme exposure and implied/demanded obedience of the “ruling” class. With that lack of real education comes a lack of self confidence and desire to excell . Not the American way.

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