Banned Books Week is coming up again at the end of September, and as usual, I find myself deeply annoyed by the literary Karens who keep making mountains out of molehills.
You see, there's a funny thing about popular literature. Like pop music, it doesn't generally stick around. Sometimes, something like 50 Shades of Grey makes a big splash, but just a few years later, no one cares. It's a flash in the pan. Even big-name authors like John Grisham, James Patterson, and Danielle Steel find their highly-promoted works fading into obscurity very quickly. Few children's books have any real staying power, either.
But right now, the LGBTQIA+ (the acronym keeps growing) topics are atop the banned and challenged lists. I get it. We're in a culture where conflict over LGBTQIA+ topics is a hot-button issue. Partisan politics plays a role. Publishers wanting to cash in on the commotion play a role. And Karens who can't live and let live no matter how much they live, laugh, love just trigger the Streisand Effect and keep every new moral outrage in the news long after its shelf life should have expired.
We are also in the era of cancel culture, and even perennial target of censorship J. K. Rowling is not immune to complaints. Her audience split between outrage and solidarity over her commentary on transgender issues. I have my own opinions on the subject, but her analysis strikes me as based on a genuine concern for the well-being of others. Nonetheless, she is now being excoriated as an icon of hate herself.
As such, Karen-ism seems to manifest itself with equal blind self-righteousness on the Woke Left and the Puritanical Right. However, the Karens of the Right seems to complain to library managers the most, and as a result, guess what gets put in the spotlight? The MAGA crowd seems hell-bent on promoting their opposition through the libraries lately. Over in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, there was a much-publicized incident of deliberate book concealment that resulted in the creation of a special Unhideable Edition of Stephen Colbert's Whose Boat Is This Boat?
I have no shortage of complaints about the left, but around here at least, I don't see protests demanding the removal of our C. S. Lewis books or the Inspirational Romance collection. So I beg you, readers, whatever your politics, un-bunch your panties and stow your complaints. Apply the Golden Rule, and mind that beam before you start pointing out motes, OK?
Libraries exist to serve everyone. That means things you dislike will be there. Things you like which other people do not will also be there. That is the entire idea of a public library. If the library collection were up to my tastes alone, 95% of the collection would be gone. There's theology I don't like, politics I don't like, books I find anywhere from boring to utterly distasteful, kids books I think are a waste of space... But y'know what? Everyone has different tastes, and that is OK.
Censorship of any kind kills dialogue, and if you try, you can tolerate and respect other people even while disagreeing with everything they believe. If we are going to make any progress toward healing the growing divide in this country, it has to be by taking the first step ourselves, even if we don't thing the other side (whoever that may be) is willing to reciprocate.
And in the end, the pop culture stuff you don't like will most likely fade into obscurity on its own in short order, so just let it go.