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Book bans don’t really work, except in politics.
They draw attention to the books in question. A good way to get a child to pick up a book is to tell him or her there is something illegal. And it’s a more powerful boost to sales than blurbs or book reviews can ever hope to be.
But as a political wedge, a book ban – or the innuendo of such, such as an “investigation” of books available to Texas public school students – can be powerful. It’s not just a hit on books, but on the people who work close to books and ideas, like teachers and librarians and other smart, cheesy guys. A beautiful and fresh controversy over the books they feed into the indiscriminate little minds of children amplifies current cultural debates over critical race theory and transgender student athletes, masks and vaccines.
Matt Krause, a representative for the State of Fort Worth, is running for attorney general. He is also the head of the House General Inquiry Committee and, in that capacity, sent a letter to the Texas Education Agency, along with a list of about 850 books, claiming he is “launching an inquiry. on Texas School District Content ”.
He has a funny way of fighting against culture cancellation.
The first order of business, he wrote, is how many of these titles each school district has, how much they have spent on them, and if they have any other books that talk about human sexuality, sexually ills. transmissible diseases, HIV or AIDS, sexually explicit images or illegal sexual behavior. He asked about the books which “contain material that might cause students to experience discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or gender.”
The committee chaired by Krause has a broad mandate to investigate anything relating to state government, “any agency or subdivision of government within the state,” the spending of public money, or “any other matter. as the committee considers necessary for the information of the legislature or the welfare and protection of the citizens of the State.
In addition, they can “inspect records, documents and records and can examine the duties, responsibilities and activities of every department, agency and official of the state and every municipality, county or other political subdivision of the state. State “.
It is questioned whether the president’s inquiry into the book has the backing of his committee – some of them from his vice president, Democrat Victoria Neave of Dallas – but the panel has the power to ask the questions Krause is asking. . It’s right there in the house rules.
Politically, the letter and the list are probably more important than any report produced by the committee, if it produces anything.
Krause is in his fifth term in the House and has announced he will run for the Attorney General’s Republican primary in a race that already includes Ken Paxton, the incumbent, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush. That’s three people who ran at least one statewide race and one who ran for nothing outside of Tarrant County.
Due to the investigation of the book, more people know his name. Some of them – his current supporters and the group of people like them he’ll need to win a statewide race – might like what he does. It’s not as if Krause is doing something contrary to his political history or previous policies; it’s just doing it for a larger audience that could be beneficial in the GOP primary.
The school districts that received her request were not asked if the books were in their required or suggested reading program, or just in their libraries. And in a state where so many of the current arguments are based on personal choices and mandates, that could be important.
To take a book from all the children in a school is a mandate. The same goes for everyone to read it. Asking a teacher to replace a book with something you don’t object to is one solution. Leaving thorny problems like that to schools is another.
You don’t like something? Don’t read it. Book lists like this don’t really change education and learning; they are the best at increasing book sales and strengthening political reputations.