Ariana Grande, Guillermo del Toro, Padma Lakshmi and More Sign Open Letter Denouncing Book Bans and Their “Chilling Effect” 

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Ariana Grande, Guillermo del Toro, Padma Lakshmi, Roxane Gay, Gabrielle Union, Sandra Cisneros, Amanda Gorman, Margaret Cho and Ron Perlman are among the signatories of an open letter calling on creative communities in Hollywood and beyond to leverage their voices to stop book bans.

Upwards of 175 actors, musicians, authors, comedians, reality stars, models, media personalities, academics, activists and more have signed the open letter spearheaded by Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton and published Tuesday via public advocacy organization and political action committee MoveOn Political Action.

The letter encourages signatories and readers to address challenges at the local level across U.S. school districts, while calling out book bans as “restrictive behavior” that is “antithetical to free speech and expression.” It also underscores the “chilling effect” these bans can have “on the broader creative field.”

“We cannot stress enough how these censorious efforts will not end with book bans,” the letter continues. “It’s only a matter of time before regressive, suppressive ideologues will shift their focus toward other forms of art and entertainment, to further their attacks and efforts to scapegoat marginalized communities, particularly BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folks.”

The letter concludes that signatories will “refuse to remain silent as one creative field is subjected to oppressive bans” and urges artists to “band together, because a threat to one form of art is a threat to us all.”

“It’s embarrassing that we are banning books in this country, in this culture, in this day and age. And it’s dangerous that a handful of individuals are deciding that any book with Black and queer people is divisive,” said Burton, executive producer of the 2023 documentary The Right to Read. “We are calling on everyone to join us in raising their voices to uphold artistic freedom, embrace multicultural history and put a stop once and for all to book bans.”

Link to the rest at The Hollywood Reporter

PG won’t opine at length as he has done before on this topic, but he does think that public schools have a right to select or not select books for students as the teachers and school administrators deem best for their students.

In making such selections, it is reasonable for teachers and administrators to consider the opinions of the parents of those students. After all, these are publicly funded schools, and those parents, as well as the rest of the community, pay school taxes to support them.

It’s a long distance between places like Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and Santa Monica and states like Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma. Having known people living in both of those geographic areas, PG can assure one and all that majority opinions about what sort of books children should and should not read diverge quite substantially from opinions in the other area.

PG ended up opining at length and apologizes for misleading any who relied on the truth of his earliest paragraph.

2 thoughts on “Ariana Grande, Guillermo del Toro, Padma Lakshmi and More Sign Open Letter Denouncing Book Bans and Their “Chilling Effect” ”

    • The bit about how older books are OK “if they align with board initiatives” is a particularly good bit of bureaucratic weaseling.

      Thing is, I’ve done book culls from a school library (picked up some good stuff in the process, too) and this kind of “pull everything off the shelf and then see what gets put back on” nonsense is not how you do it.

      You create a list of books, using a combination of “When was the last time this book was checked out” and “was this nonfiction book published long enough ago that its information is outdated?” and then you pull those books.

      This is just dumb.

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