By Tony Farkas
Like most teens in high school, I went through an awkward phase.
As a military dependent, and attending numerous schools in numerous states and countries, it was a bit difficult making friends, since we probably would move soon, and honestly, what would be the point?
So I developed a coping mechanism — the library.
Books were transportive for me, in that my imagination placed me in the story. My top genres of fiction were, no surprise, science fiction, but also mystery and a bit of comedy. If those could be mixed, that was even better (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” trio of five books come to mind).
I continued that throughout my adult life because I enjoyed reading so much more than television.
Had those books been taken from me, or redacted in some way, my teen years would have been a bit more miserable.
So I’m a bit ambivalent about banning books, which is the current bugaboo plaguing education in this country.
On the one hand, there should be no limits on knowledge. I hate censorship.
What I am squarely behind is keeping certain subjects for school children age-appropriate, and since education should be done with a parent’s input, and not dictated by social agenda, certain topics need to be made available only when a child is developed enough mentally to understand them.
There should never be books instructing elementary school children on the proper methods for sex, or drug use, or advocating choices on lifestyle, such as transgenderism. Those topics should never be part of a proper education; the fundamentals, or the three R’s, need to be the focus, as well as practical applications of such.
I’m also puzzled why school libraries seem to be the sole focus of this, since this isn’t the only medium children are exposed to. The internet, television, music, etc., all are available and all contain items that can be deemed inappropriate.
Also, these items come with warnings or at least the ability to limit access (again, something in the purview of parents).
Many of you remember the government’s foray into “protecting the children from themselves” through the Parents Music Resource Center or the Motion Picture Association of America. I say through, since it’s now required that music items come complete with warnings for explicit lyrics; all television programming is rated for the appropriate age level; and motion pictures have been required to be rated for age and content.
All of this seems to me to be oxymoronic, in that on the one hand, we must keep children safe and wholesome, and on the other, we’re told that we’re book-burning censorship Nazis for keeping kids away from books that give illustrated instructions about sex.
Televisions come with the ability to limit access to inappropriate material through parental controls; computers and cell phones have similar abilities, allowing parents to decide what children can see and when. Kids can be kept out of movies rated R or NC-17 through a simple ID check, or a denial from parents.
Ultimately, the parents should be the ones to make the call.