Statement on Book Banning
The League of Utah Writers supports the free exchange of ideas and the written word across all sectors of society and in our schools.
It is our belief that authors need to be able to tell their stories, even those we disagree with.
The recent spate of book-banning centered on keeping difficult but necessary topics from school kids is a chilling example of censorship, racism, anti-Semitism, and bigotry. The banning of Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel "Maus" in Tennessee on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day is nothing short of haunting. In Texas recently, a parent petitioned to have a biography of Former First Lady Michelle Obama removed, not even for objectionable content, but because of the misguided notion that it promoted "reverse-racism." Across the country, state legislatures have introduced bills that would grant the ability to ban books for objections over depictions of race, sexual orientation, and gender identity. None of this is good for writers of any creative community, nor is it good for our society. This is happening right now in Utah with legislation (HB374) currently up for debate. Prominently challenged books in Utah include "The Hate U Give", Angie Thomas's honest reflection on how police interact with communities of color, and George M. Johnson's autobiographical memoir "All Boys Aren't Blue" that documents the personal horrific realities of living as a queer man of color in this day and age.
The League of Utah Writers condemns all attempts at censoring books, particularly these attempts to harm and silence marginalized voices and keep their stories out of the hands of those who could help prevent these stories from being repeated in our world.
These attempts threaten our creative community and our society.
As writers, it is our job to speak out to protect the written word and its access to those who need it most.
Writer Judy Blume said, "I believe that censorship grows out of fear, and because fear is contagious, some parents are easily swayed. Book banning satisfies their need to feel in control of their children’s lives. This fear is often disguised as moral outrage. They want to believe that if their children don’t read about it, their children won’t know about it. And if they don’t know about it, it won’t happen."
These book bannings are giving in to fear. Reading about the ills of society won't cause these things to happen, quite the opposite. Only armed with knowledge can we prevent the worst from happening.
And no one ever learned anything in a library about saving the world without having access to the right book to teach them.
-Signed, the Executive Committee of the League of Utah Writers