Have We Learned Nothing From History?

                                                                                    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 22, 2023

                           For more information, contact:

                                                         Lily Benavides (908) 290-4158

                                                         Craig Cayetano (201) 320-9753

                                                         Barry Bendar (609) 276-3183

          One of the most disturbing developments in current US and NJ politics is the so-called movement to ban the presence of books in public libraries or to ban including these books in student curriculum. Even worse is that the people organizing this effort are also targeting certain librarians for doing their job – making sure that a wide variety of books is available for children, teens, young adults and adults to read.

The Green Party of New Jersey said in a statement that, “Some of the best times children have are spent in the library. It is there that they can learn about people who don’t have the same background as they do. Taking children to the library is a big part of how they grow up as kind and caring people, understanding and respecting a diversity of viewpoints and the histories of different kinds of people. Efforts to ban books from public libraries, whether it’s because they focus on the lives of the LBGTQIA+ Libcommunity or the holocaust or the history of racism in the US, is damaging to the growth and development of all people within this society. And, since access to books outside of public schools or public libraries can be very costly, eliminating these books from public spaces infers that only people with means will be able to read about subjects that are banned.”

Banning books is also a form of censorship. The banning of books in the US, a country that fancies itself as having freedom of speech, freedom of expression and a commitment to equality, is diametrically opposed to what are supposed to be the country’s values.

Librarians are often on the front lines of protecting freedom of speech and expression. Immediately following the passage of the USA Patriot Act shortly after 9/11, librarians refused to follow some of the directives of the law, ones that would have required the reporting of the books people were reading. This requirement was in complete disregard of the reasons behind a person’s reading about certain topics and was designed only to target people in an effort to silence dissent or even curiosity about some US history.

The availability of titles in libraries should not be based on partisan politics or subjects that make a reader question his or her positions on any issue. Book banning should be considered a violation of the first amendment to the US constitution and a most dangerous precedent for a country that is supposed to protect freedom of speech. No one should have the power to ban a book – instead, if it’s a topic a parent doesn’t want their child to read about, then that parent can take steps to “protect” their child from reading it. However, they have no right to make that decision for everyone.

The Green Party of NJ stands firmly behind those public officials who are standing up for the 1st amendment rights of all and is opposed to censorship and the banning of books and the ranking of ideas – the more voices available to read, discuss and learn from, the better for us all.