“Banning” the Bible:

Reader Matt Johnson reminds me that the American Library Association — hardly known as a bastion of Republicanism — defines “banning” of books to include “remov[al of] material from the curriculum” of a public school. Under that definition, many liberals do support “banning” the Bible: If a school teaches the Bible as part of its normal curriculum (except in unusual contexts, such as for instance a comparative religion class, likely in the upper grades), then liberals would want it to be “removed . . . from the curriculum.”

This is, of course, apropos the Republican mailer that suggests that the “liberal agenda” would lead to the Bible being “banned” and same-sex marriage being “allowed.” As I mentioned in my original post, it’s hard to tell whether this is “dishonest” (as one correspondent of mine suggested) without seeing the inside of the mailer. If the senders are really claiming that liberals would want to criminalize all distribution and reading of the Bible, even on private property, then that charge is pretty dishonest. But if the inside of the mailer makes clear that they are just claiming that liberals would want to ban the distribution and use of the Bible in public schools (again, except in certain unusual contexts) — the very meaning that the American Library Association uses — then there’s no dishonesty there.

Incidentally, I would not use the word “ban” myself to refer to removal of a book from a curriculum; government agents must select what’s in the government-run schools, and if a lower-level employee (a teacher) selects a book, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong in a higher-level official (a principal or a school board) changing that selection. The particular choice may be foolish, but because it’s an unwise decision to remove a book from the curriculum, not because all such decisions are wrong. Nor would I call them “bans,” since the book is still available elsewhere.

Nonetheless, if this is what the Republican mailer meant by the Bible being “banned,” then the American Library Association usage further illustrates that such a meaning isn’t inherently dishonest, and — even if imprecise — probably within the boundaries of legitimate political hyperbole. But, as I’ve said before, if anyone can pass along to me the contents of the inside of the mailer, we may get a better idea of what meaning of “banned” was involved.

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