Book bans are like cutting down a tree in a park: Steinberg

An oak on the banks of the branch of the Chicago River in Northbrook. People are so alienated from the idea of community that they feel empowered to craft public spaces to suit their whims. We wouldn’t allow it in public parks; why allow it in public libraries?

Neil Steinberg/Sun-Times

Northbrook boasts a park in the heart of its downtown, with a ballfield and a playground, a gazebo and a river — the West Branch of the North Fork of the Chicago River. A person could, theoretically, with a shallow-draft kayak and about 12 hours effort, paddle to Marina Towers.

Too much work for me, more given to meandering through the park, my wife’s arm tucked snugly in mine. All is right in the world as we stroll under the towering old oaks, past younger trees planted to comfort future generations.

But what if all weren’t right? Let’s say I take offense at one of those saplings. Perhaps I decide there are too many oaks already. Perhaps I bear some grudge against the person honored on the bronze plaque. Perhaps I am worried an inept village child could be tempted to climb this tree, because of a low branch, say, and, in doing so might fall and be injured. Even killed. The reason doesn’t matter.

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So I take it upon myself to go to the park with a chainsaw and cut down the offending tree.

How do you think passersby would react? Would they say, “There’s old Steinberg, responsible citizen, exercising his constitutional right to live in a community free from the menace of perilous trees”? Or would they call the police, who’d haul me away for destroying public property?

The second scenario is a sure bet. And I think we can all agree: They would be right. The park is for everybody, not to be defaced by irked individuals following the random dictates of their disordered minds.

Given that, why do we tolerate people plucking books out of public libraries? Unlike trees, which really do occasionally cause injuries to careless climbers, no child has ever been hurt by a book. The damage imagined by alarmed parents is purely notional and, when you think about it — someone should — quite ludicrous.

Book banners hold their sexuality so lightly they fear their child will glance at the drawing of a pee-pee and be lost to a different orientation. Their faith is so tenuous that the merest puff of disrespect sends it crashing to the ground in a cloud of anguish. A dozen satirists couldn’t concoct a dimmer view of their supposed beliefs than they freely offer up themselves.

What’s really going on? Loss of community coupled …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times


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