You Gotta Fight for Your Read?

I've offered tacit support of SPEAK during the flair-up against the comments made in Springfield last week. I didn't hop on the bandwagon and speak out against it for a couple reasons. First, I'm fat, and doubt I could hop on a bandwagon if I wanted to. Second, I don't think my message would reach anyone that could be swayed by anything I have to say.

Having lived various places in Missouri, the guy that said what he said will never be convinced of anything. Nor will his comments convince anyone that needed convincing. His fanatics already believe the swill he's spreading. My telling you how ridiculous his promotion of rape as sexuality wouldn't surprise you. You're a smart individual and already knew that.

I am going to make a comment tangential to the subject, though, where I think a reasonable discourse may change minds. When book "banning" (and those quotes are deliberate) comes up, it is inevitable that someone says that it's unconstitutional. First I'm going to tell you why it isn't. Second I'm going to tell you why you hurt the cause you're supporting by making that claim.

The book isn't being banned. It's being removed from the school and its curricula. A banned book would not be allowed to be printed or sold or owned. Congress (or even scarier the Executive or even scarier yet the Judiciary) would say, no more BREAK. We're old and dumb and scared of sex and any value BREAK brings to society is not worth our discomfort. It is forbidden! That is an infringement on speech. That's not what's happening here.

The school board is empowered by whatever body elects/appoints it (either the people or the municipality) to administer its schools. It can decide what books are and are not included in its curricula. This does not deprive the author of speech. The book is still printed and sold. Students are still able to purchase the book from bookstores. It just won't be part of their homework assignment.

Does this suck? Absolutely, for BREAK, SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE, FAHRENHEIT 451, and so many others. Is it wrong? I believe so. I think those books are relevant and worthwhile. But it's not unconstitutional. You want to make a big impact? Skip the incredibly passive "Speak Out" skin on your twitter icon and instead do the very active vote in your next school board election. Question the candidates about the issue and elect people who understand the value of these books and want to see them in our schools.

...okay, add the skin too, but only after you've made a difference in your local community.

Now, why is saying its unconstitutional a bad thing? It creates a reverse straw man argument. Douchebag McAsshole says rape is sexual and bad for kids (I say rape is bad for kids, but that's beside the point). He says we're going to ban the book. You say, you can't do that, it's unconstitutional! You are incorrect. What you've done is given him the opportunity to disprove your argument rather than defending his own. He doesn't need to explain why he thinks rape is sexual (eww), he just has to show how what he proposes is legal.

Which it is. Not only does he not have to defend himself, he will defeat you in the argument you're making. This is not how to defeat Douchebag McAsshole. And we want to defeat Douchebag McAsshole. We want to defeat him very much.