The Long Way Home 12.15.23

It appears that a political party that once stood for minimal government interference in private lives has decided, now that it has political power in several states and the judiciary, that it needs to be involved in every part of people’s lives, especially the lives of women and anyone who sees the world a bit differently than they do. 

Self-proclaimed MAGA adherents are seeking local and state offices to control what books a librarian has available, what subjects schools can teach, what the press can report, and what kind of medical care is given. 

So much for liberty. 

There is an ongoing effort by outsiders to determine what books are available in school and public libraries. In most cases, these people aren’t readers or writers. Often, they’ve never seen, much less read, the books they want banned. 

Librarians are the best people to decide what material should be available. Parents are the best judges of what their children should read. It’s not that hard. 

Andrea Junker's quote applies here: “If you’re afraid that reading a book might change someone’s thinking, then you’re not afraid of books; you’re afraid of thinking.” 

Let librarians be librarians. 

Too many people want elected officials and judges with little education experience telling school teachers what to teach. Teachers need the freedom to do what they were trained to do--help prepare young people to be thinking, caring members of modern society.

School boards should set goals and policies and manage budgets. Teachers and administrators should set and implement curriculums. 

Last week, I wrote about the need for a free and independent press. A press release from the local hospital board indicated it was looking into filing defamation lawsuits due to a recent spate of unflattering news stories and social media posts. That short release had a chilling effect on a group circulating a petition to change hospital leadership. 

Since the founding of this great nation, there has been tension over attempts by government officials and agencies to hamstring the press. It’s even become a ritual at political rallies to “boo and hiss”  or worse when a speaker insults members of the media. 

The former police chief for the City of Grand Marais, Tom “Ratface” Billings, acknowledged the futility of attacking the media. “Don’t get into a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel,” he said as he tried more tactfully to influence the local newspaper publisher. 

Let journalists be journalists. 

Since the demise of Roe vs Wade last year, stories have arisen of pre-teens forced to carry a pregnancy to term. Women are suffering debilitating conditions from failed pregnancies rather than getting the care (what used to be called a D&C) doctors prescribe. 

Opponents of the Roe decision argued that it took away the right of states to regulate abortion. Now, they want federal legislation to put a national ban on all abortions, regardless of what the people of a particular state want.

The hypocrisy is jarring. 

When I first came to live on the North Shore, I was a 40-year-old capitalist who built a business in an industry being deregulated. I saw the benefits of innovation and job creation when elected officials and government bureaucrats stepped away and let business people be business people. (To be clear, I’m not advocating unfettered capitalism.)

Today, these people who have been elected or appointed must learn to step back and let librarians, teachers, the press, and the medical profession innovate to serve the people.