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Letters to the Editor: Book bans? Just be glad our kids want to read anything

A person holding the book "Maus" by Art Spiegelman
The graphic novel “Maus” by Art Spiegelman was recently targeted by a school board in Tennessee for a book ban.
(Maro Siranosian / AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: Michael Hiltzik’s column about the book banning crusades reminded of when I, as a junior high school student, took Ian Fleming’s “Dr. No” to school as part of a student’s-choice reading assignment.

I was sent to the principal’s office by a teacher offended at the picture of a bikini-clad woman on the cover. The principal sent me home with the book and a note to my parents saying that such books were not appropriate in his school.

My mother, who was as good a role model as any child could wish for, sent me back to school the next day with her note (and the book) saying the school should be thankful that I was reading anything, and that ended the matter in favor of “Dr. No.”

Somehow, even with such perverse influences, I’ve managed to make it through law school and read a lot of great books, including “smut” written by William Faulkner, James Joyce and Vladimir Nabokov.

Lynn Wood, Huntington Beach

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To the editor: Censorship isn’t a chalk line but a continuum. Hiltzik dismisses the censorship of the political left by saying that attacks on Woody Allen’s “Apropos of Nothing” and Blake Bailey’s biography of Philip Roth are “one offs.”

Except that comedian Dave Chappelle’s show was recently pulled from First Avenue in Minneapolis, articles on Louis C.K. still begin with the word “disgraced,” and no one cares about Garrison Keillor’s writing anymore.

Like in “1984,” the people that are censored by the left sometimes just “disappear.” They have effectively lost their voices in the media, in art and in film. It’s not officially censorship, but it is censorship in actuality.

And then there are the people that the media leave alone. The left has taught them: You better be good, you better be nice. Say the right things.

Stan Brown, Victorville

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To the editor: Hiltzik’s take on the right-wing book banning obsession is spot on. Book banning is simply the cause du jour of the Republican Party, conjured up as a convenient wedge issue to rile up the base.

As long as I can remember, Republicans have relied on bogeymen to scare the faithful, whether it’s LGBTQ people, immigrants, Black Lives Matter, critical race theory or communists.

Usually, the polemicizing moves on when the public tires of it or a new hapless target emerges. Sometimes it seems to go on forever. Not a day goes by without some Republican candidate throwing the communist or Marxist thunderbolt at an adversary.

Phillip Gold, Westlake Village


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