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Two contrasting views on which books should be read in schools

Amanda Darrow, director of youth, family, and education programs at the Utah Pride Center, posed with books, including "The Bluest Eye," by Toni Morrison, that have been the subject of complaints from parents, on Dec. 16, 2021, in Salt Lake City.Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

We’ve seen what happens when anti-speech efforts flourish

Thank you to Jennifer Finney Boylan for highlighting both the inanity and the peril of the current right-wing effort to ban books in communities across the country (“What’s next, banning the Bible?”, Opinion, May 12).

Though the examples that Boylan highlights take place in Florida and Utah, there are examples of this moral blight across the country, including in our own Commonwealth. Innocuous-sounding organizations such as Moms for Liberty, Parents Defending Education, and the Massachusetts Family Institute reportedly have been eager to deny access to literature in Massachusetts libraries. School committee members and candidates in the Old Rochester Regional School District and the Wakefield Public Schools have reportedly pushed similar efforts.


We at the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action decry authoritarian measures such as book bans because we have seen what happens throughout history when such anti-free-speech, anti-education, anti-democracy efforts are permitted to flourish. Such efforts evoke the emotions we feel today when looking back on the notorious Nazi book burning campaigns in May 1933 that included the destruction of works by everyone from Ernest Hemingway to Helen Keller, from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Albert Einstein.

Book bans not only hide information and art from public access. They also corrode our very humanity. Those of us who value democracy and the unencumbered exchange of ideas must be vigilant and speak up. Protest such efforts, including by going to your local library and borrowing a book that is banned elsewhere.

Larry Bailis


Cindy Rowe

Executive Director

Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action


Parents have legitimate concerns about which books their kids are exposed to

I would think a trustee of PEN America such as Jennifer Finney Boylan might articulate a better tirade. These books are not being banned. They’re all available in the marketplace. No, the calls for so-called book bans are about concern over presenting, for example, certain forms of sexuality in public schools, especially to young children. Why these concerns are controversial is beyond me.


How is it that parents’ objection to such teaching is objectionable? There are people who want to take over that which belongs to parents: raising their children. Since our culture allows these books in the public square, it is irrational to insist one’s agenda be applied to my children. They will be immersed soon enough in the culture when school is done.

Michael Burke