Home NEWS Schools Wait. We’re Talking About Banning Books? Again?

Wait. We’re Talking About Banning Books? Again?


We’ll state flatly that we weren’t at last night San Ramon Valley Unified School District board meeting. We just couldn’t bring ourselves to go.

It’s not that we’re afraid of the “Angry Parents,” the description most often used to describe people upset over, well, just about anything these days, all looking for an opportunity to make their case before a – hopefully, for them – receptive audience of like-minded riled up parental units.

Having been ordered to cover, oh, a thousand or so similar board meetings as fledgeling reporters and now much older, wiser, and with precious little time to spare, we drew the line and said “nope, not this one, not tonight.”

It’s not that a proposed topic of discussion – book banning – would have been like taking a blow to the solar plexus for bibliophiles who used to read just about anything we could lay our hands on under our covers and by the light of a hand-held Cub Scout torch. It’s not that we find the topic achingly, historically galvanizing for segments of the community unwilling or unable to consider alternative views or passages from books they find “offensive,” “godless,” or “pornographic.”

And, yes, the current, elevated state of school district angst did remind us of the attached scene from “Field of Dreams,” which is about the healing impacts of baseball, but which also took a moment to address some weightier, collateral issues known for their innate ability to raise the tempers and voices of “angry parents” or governments looking for available scapegoats and publications they could toss on their bonfires.

And while some of the books we were reading literally undercover late at night when Mum and Dad were in their beds may not have passed parental muster we were no less enthralled with them, on Pitcairn Island with The Bounty mutineers as they unraveled and turned on one another, or trying to control our breathing while  questioning why the characters behaved as they did in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

We consumed those books and others on Hitler’s shortlist of Books for the Fires and made it to adulthood without any – or many, depending on who you speak with – evident character flaws. We mean, we managed to live amongst people gay and trans and Q and whatever else, counted many as friends and never feared them for whatever mysterious power some felt they might have over us. And, it turned out, many of us had grown up reading the same books.

Now, however, it appears we’re headed once again for more school board meetings, more Annie vs. Beulah confrontations, and more averted eyes as we pass one another, silent and seething, in the grocery store. Once again, we are hearing the rising drumbeat of a needed return to loyalty oaths, for the rejection of certain books from library bookshelves, for a return to lives ruled by evangelical mandate.

Why? Over words. Words that deign to make us think, to consider the lives and troubles of others, to step into their shoes at least for as long as it takes to turn a page and perhaps learn what is important to them.

Or not. Because it takes less time to light a match than it does to read a book.


  1. Generally a sign that a book is worth reading if someone is so afraid of it that they want to ban it. Same for films.

  2. It’s always more fun, I’ve read, to be the villain in a play than the good guy. I’ll take that part. Yes, I am absolutely in favor of censorship in certain situations. One litmus test for me is shown on various Youtubes where at a school board meeting they will demand the parent stop reading from or showing a book from the school’s library because it is so objectionable. The board knows it’s wrong to be in the library, but without the intellectual infrastructure to set a boundary, they are left with the binary choice made by reaction to Nazi book burnings.

    Not sure if readers here are familiar with Gov. Newsom’s cash machine where his wife publishes (at a profit of one to three million dollars according to one source) gender identity films which are purchased with taxpayer money by school districts and has scenes for middle school students like an upside down stripper with black tape X’s across her nipples and several XXX rated stills mildly fuzzed out. It’s easy to find so I won’t bother posting the link. Unfortunately, poor judgement and timidity allows inappropriate material to ride the coat tails of favoring political diversity. Inappropriate material for middle school students hides behind images of Nazi book burnings.

    Now, take your best shot. And forget claiming I’m a religious fanatic since one of my favorite books is Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. I just stole your thunder, sorry, not sorry.

    • Unfortunately your entire soliloquy of arrogance falls apart when you take into account that your chosen podium to speak from is a comment here using an anonymous name so that you don’t have to have any actual responsibility for your one sided and myopic viewpoint. Translation: It’s just another lousy two cents comment on a news site that means….wait for it…nothing. It holds neither water nor weight and will be forgotten. Not sorry to steal your thunder. Not sorry at all.

      • Mr. Mac – we take umbrage with your characterization of this site’s value to the readers it serves. Other than that, your post stands on its own.

      • Mr. Mac: That’s an interesting comment. So, please explain what statements I made that you would interpret differently if I put my name down? Are you going to interpret a stripper hanging upside down differently? Maybe you mean the youtube board meeting videos? They are easily available. The book I mentioned on religion? No, sir, we both know you would not value my comment any differently.

      • Mr. Mac,
        “A soliloquy of arrogance”? Sounds like something Perry Mason would say. But really, on this site we offer a free exchange of ideas and personal attacks are hardly necessary. Maybe you would be happier somewhere else as we don’t seem to be up to your standards.

  3. Ok Lamorinda Voter and Mr. Loomis- Who gets to decide where the line is drawn. If you say common sense, I would have to say there’s a dearth of it going around these days. Your offensive book could be a nothing burger to me.

  4. From the film clip you chose to your own admission it is clear that it has been a long time since you were near a classroom. Today’s issues primarily are about books of a graphic sexual nature being available to children in a school library. Not sexual innuendo but graphic sex. Straight, Bisexual, Gay, Transsexual, etc.. What is going on now is light years away from the sexual health class that many took in the days of yore. Parents have every right to be concerned.

    • “… it is clear that it has been a long time since you were near a classroom.”

      Board meeting. They said board meeting. And judging from the behavior I’ve seen at some of them recently, I don’t blame them one bit.

  5. Banning books is for the intellectually stupid. There is no other reason to ban a book about two male penguins raising a baby penguin together.

  6. I read some books on economic and social inequality when I was growing up. Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, North America, South America. I can’t unsee that. Why didn’t someone protect me? Is it because I grew up working class? I think if I had grown up where I live today someone would have protected me from seeing that $#!&.

  7. I suspect someone is conflating “deciding not to spend tax money to buy” a book with “banning” a book.

    • Maybe
      But there seems to be a lot of concern in some parts about what Johnny and Mary told the folks they read in school. Stuff in the classroom or in the library already.
      So I think your point is not central to the fuss.

  8. As for who decides where the line is drawn, it’s local elected officials with community input. Just like it’s always been and what we have in this case. In my mind, all of these discussions are great and everyone’s voice is being heard. The problem is the level of anger with which the “adults” at these meetings express themselves. The arrogance one must have to believe that their opinion should be followed, and contrary opinions are without any merit, is incomprehensible to me.

    • Couldn’t have said it better myself. I’d also point out that tax dollars always go to things done people don’t like. My preferred approach is usually to just get over it.

  9. Yes. Take a crackpot idea from a guy who doesn’t even live here – run it through the Karen/Mommy Chambers at Facebook and Nexdoor and whip up the whippable until it’s a controversy. Way to fall for the contrived bull doodie, San Ramon.

  10. You saved yourselves a wasted evening news24 – smart. Embarrassing how this got baked into something almost real. Crazy.

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