Banning books unacceptable no matter the reason

Republican legislators are attempting to ban books with “gay” content from libraries in Alabama. Banning such books from public libraries limits the function such public spaces were intended to perform: Free access to information.

Rep. Gerald Allen, (R-Ala.) is attempting to pass a bill banning “the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.” Tuesday Allen justified his bill to The Alabama News by saying, “Our culture, how we know it today, is under attack from every angle.”

According to Allen, banned books would include any textbook that “suggested homosexuality was ok,” as well as books such as Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray in which protagonists are homosexual.

Alabama librarian Jaunita Owes responded, “Half the books in the library could end up being banned. It’s all based on how one interprets the material.”

This is a valid criticism. Any book could potentially be interpreted to have “gay” content, including religious books. To even attempt such a measure would be virtually unenforceable.

But more importantly, libraries should not limit access to literature of any sort. Banning books containing “gay” content would be no different than banning books by authors of a certain ethnicity. Similarly, if atheists were to call for the removal of all religious books from public libraries the outcry would be huge.

But in this case a group is justifying removal of books based on their own ethical standards. A publicly funded establishment such as a public library must not be allowed to instill any such sort of intolerance.