News and views: The New Theocrats

“When I was a boy in school, we were often encouraged to read banned books. Back then, to censor anyone was about the least hip thing you could do, the province of the glowering churchman and the cordless phone-wielding parent, the least cool of 1990s archetypes. Pitted against them was the heroic liberal-minded librarian, who would sooner raise her voice in the study section than deny a book to a curious student. “READ!” cried colorful signs off of every classroom wall. And if you wanted to READ! Judy Blume, Alice Walker, or William Golding, well, then, far be it from anyone else to stop you. […]

That isn’t to say we no longer censor. Oh, Lord, do we censor. It’s just that our criteria have changed.

What happens if critiques of the ruling ideology are no longer easily accessible? What happens when it isn’t the offensiveness of the opposition tract that determines whether it’s allowed but the effectiveness? This is the reality we now confront. You don’t need government to pass a law to shut somebody up; you need only to capture the relevant cultural gatekeepers. “

The impulse that drives these cancellations isn’t progressive and it certainly isn’t liberal. It’s theocratic. Wokeness treats its hierarchies of race, gender, and sexual orientation as unquestionable dogma, with everything else—discourse, literature, art, math—subordinated to its tenets. The left has thus become everything it once claimed to hate. They’re the book banners now, the quaking prudes, the reverend from Footloose, the Savonarola.”

Matt Purple, “I Do Not Like This Woke FlimFlam“.

In 2010, as a devout progressive, I stumbled upon The American Conservative while reading articles related to the built environment. I’d gotten turned on about that issue in college and believed it was an issue, like energy or farm policy, that should transcend party lines. To my continuing surprise, TAC was also a very vocal antiwar magazine, and since the anti-war left had taken down its shingle and gone home in the wake of Obama’s election, I was only happy to explore this novelty. TAC has only grown in my estimation over the years — though it helps that the progressive left became so hostile and reckless that I left their camp altogether. Libertarians and many conservatives I can break bread with even when we disagree, but so many modern ‘progressives’ are political Wahhabists who won’t ever stop preaching about their pet issue and are ready to condemn those who disagree as kafir. I’ve been especially disgusted and outraged by the blooming problem of deplatforming and cancel culture. It’s grown to almost absurd levels, and one hopes that the unbridled arrogance of this cultural cancer will provoke pushback. It’s beyond sad when an organization like the American Library Association, which hosts the pious fraud known as Banned Books Week, is party to this nonsense as well.

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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6 Responses to News and views: The New Theocrats

  1. Marian says:

    The Dr Seuss thing is why I think public domain is better than family “legacies.” Mind-boggling that they can erase the book just because they own the copyright, when it’s been around for decades.

    If I only had the storage 😆 , I’d probably buy the entire Western canon, cause at this rate… what’s next?

    • Most of the books I buy these days are ebooks because of space-saving and sales, but cancel culture makes a pressing argument for physical media. One of my original fears with ebooks (voiced here in that “Go Go Gadget Literature” reflection I posted in ’13 or so) was that amazon and the like could erase purchased books if they stopped selling them for some reason. That isn’t an issue with ‘real’ books, and it’s the reason I purchased “When Harry Became Sally” in real form: it wasn’t a book on my shortlist, but Amazon’s attempt to throw it into the memoryhole made me want to read it.

      • Cyberkitten says:

        That’s *one* reason I buy real books too. It’s really hard to ‘delete’ hard copy just because someone somewhere found something ‘offensive’ in it.

      • Marian says:

        I just bought it too, for the same reason, haha…

    • It’s not being erased, it is no longer being published. Books go out of publication all the time. The family estate made a decision to do this, and they felt it is the right one. Most of the books are not well-known at this point anyway, so they’re not really taking an actual hit.

      • The books can’t be legally reprinted by anyone else legally, so as existing copies ages into un-usability, the books will essentially disappear: the effect is the same. If they’d let the books go out of print and said nothing, no one would know or care. But they wanted to use it to make a political point, which is noxious. It’s part of the total politicization of culture, which is why people are getting riled up about it.

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