Parents with Matchsticks
Mothers and fathers already make a habit of banning books.
Mark Twain is said to have said, “Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” Unfortunately, real life involves bad friends, bad books, and a bothered conscience.
Some parents seem motivated to introduce their children to these bad books as early as they can. Other parents who send their children to the same government schools are pushing back, and the New York Times is noticing. The word “ban,” or some equivalent, is used ten times in a piece that seeks to draw attention to a fledgling group of right-wing parents intent on stifling the intellectual creativity of America County children.
But one parent is inching away from the label:
“This is not about banning books, it’s about protecting the innocence of our children,” said Keith Flaugh, one of the founders of Florida Citizens Alliance, a conservative group focused on education, “and letting the parents decide what the child gets rather than having government schools indoctrinate our kids.”
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The three components of a moral act are the object, intention, and circumstances: Flaugh’s object is banning books, his intention is protecting the innocence of his children, and the circumstances are cultural decay and a well-funded apparatus overseeing that decay. To accomplish his end and change the circumstances, he needs to ban books.
These full-time parents and part-time activists should not be concerned about being labeled as “book-banners.” They should wear it as a badge of honor, as an indication that they’re countering the porn-peddlers and Margaret Atwood-mongers. People and institutions on the right should come to the defense of the restrictive parents for doing what any good parent regularly does: restricts. I have fond memories of a family friend taking a matchstick to the entire Harry Potter series in her backyard firepit when she learned about a potential connection between the content of the books and the occult. Whether this connection is real is not the issue: she’s a mom concerned about the occult with access to matchsticks and a firepit, so she did exactly what needed to be done.
These parents are trying to do what needs to be done, and they shouldn’t have to worry about public relations. While they fulfill their central obligation of educating their children, their political and cultural allies should be right behind them with the matches.