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Defending Free Expression in the Cancel Culture Era | Books Uncovered podcast

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

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Sam Scinta: Hello and welcome to the Books Uncovered podcast, a podcast brought to you by Fulcrum Publishing, where we explore the world of books and the people who make up the publishing industry. I am Sam Scinta, publisher of Fulcrum Publishing, and I'm joined by my co-host, Kateri Kramer Fulcrum's Marketing Director Hi, Kateri, how are you doing today?

Kateri Kramer: I'm good. How are you?

Sam Scinta: I'm doing really, really great. Thank you so much. This is a fun time of the year for me, because next week is Banned Books Week where we celebrate the fact that that, unfortunately, there are. We're not celebrating banning books. We're celebrating just the opposite that unfortunately, in our wonderful free society there are moves to push for censorship in libraries and in other public spaces for the availability of literature. I was kind of curious. Do you have any recent experience with censorship or free expression?

Kateri Kramer: Not maybe not super recent. But I was actually thinking about this the other day when I was I was prepping our emails to go out for Banned Books Week, and it had occurred to me that when I was in middle school, I was probably in seventh or eighth grade, or something like that, and I went to a Catholic school. They pulled Harry Potter off the shelf, and I had forgotton that happened, and I think at the time it like upset me, but it was like I well, I have the book at home. My dad's reading it to me, so it was like I didn't put like 2 and 2 together of like. Why, that was an issue ‘cause there were lots of other kids that didn't have the book at home that wanted to read it and couldn't get access to it. But it was just interesting to like, think back and be like, Oh, I had experiences with this at a very young age, which is probably not that surprising based on the makeup of the school that I was at. And then, since then it's just been kind of like continuing to hear it happening elsewhere. I'm sure that it would have happened at my high school as well, but we didn't have an actual library in the school. But there were like books you wanted to read that you just kind of couldn't read or like topics that you maybe wanted to talk about in a speech class that you like.They weren't really okay with but those are kind of the most like overt times that come to mind. How about you?

Sam Scinta: Well, yeah, the dangers of magic. You know we do. We certainly don't want you to read about magic. Well, as you know, I do a lot of work on free speech and free expression. It's a it's a core for a lot of what we do, both at Fulcrum, but also what I like to do outside of work. And next week this will be we're recording this in late September, but on October 7th a Saturday. We're actually doing a public reading at Pearl Street books here in La Crosse. This is the first of its kind celebration in La Crosse, where we're inviting the public to join us in reading banned books. And so we're going to do a public celebration and a public readout of our favorite banned books and the store will have banned books for sale that day or for borrowing. So if you don't have any. But we're just asking people to bring your favorite banned books. It is just simply a tragedy in our society that so many people are particularly librarians, are targets for censorship right now, and so much more and so and so much more. It is not just the censorship issue. But so many of these librarians who then insist on defending our First Amendment and then carrying a lot of these titles, are also then getting subjected to threats and the like. And our guest today is just an absolute expert on this. I can't think of anybody better in the country to be talking about this particular topic. Jamie LaRue is an experienced public library director with a background in journalism and media. He held key positions from January 2016 to November 2018, as the Director of the Freedom to Read Foundation and the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom. These are the people on the front lines for Banned Books Week. These are the people that compile the data and are our greatest defenders of freedom. LaRue is known for his extensive work in addressing intellectual freedom issues, leadership, community engagement, and the future of libraries, both through his writing and consulting. He resides in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and he is the author most recently of ON CENSORSHIP: A Public Librarian Examines Cancel Culture in the US. I had the honor of reading this book early on and I've read, as you can imagine, extensively on this topic, and I shared with Jamie. I could count on one hand the number of truly balanced and insightful accounts on this issue of censorship. He has taken just a beautiful approach to where we are as a society. Why this is so damaging, and he holds all sides accountable, which is just simply remarkable, because this is one of those things where we're seeing people from across the spectrum targeting books. But welcome, Jamie LaRue, Jamie, how are you today?

Jamie LaRue: I am better than I deserve, as usual, Sam. Thanks for having me.

Sam Scinta: Well, thank you so much for joining us. So, Jamie, for the benefit of our listeners here. Why don't you maybe give us a snapshot of the current state of the world in terms of book banning as both a librarian and as someone who is obviously studying this topic consistently. We know it's in the news. But how bad is it in the bigger context.

Jamie LaRue: Well, it's pretty bad, you know, the way that I think about it is, there are 4 reasons that people censor books and the first one is personal prejudice. Very often this is tied to some sort of trauma that happened to somebody as a child. They see something that triggers them. They want it to stop. That's going to happen. That happens all the time in libraries. The second one was what I call parental panic, and I learned the first when the first 250 challenges I dealt with was, they kept falling into one of 2 categories. It was parents who were freaking out because their 4-year-old was no longer an infant, and they were becoming a child. It was this transition, and they were losing control of that parental bubble and then 14 to 16, where it was the end of childhood. And the child is now moving into young adulthood. So let's call that parental panic that's always been around that's going to continue to be around. And then it shifted into something that I'll call demographic panic. And I remember reading back around 2014. There was this announcement that under the age of 5 America was majority nonwhite. And so a lot, you know, some people kind of freaked out by that, you know, much like the parents lost it about their kids, you know, moving from one phase to the next. Suddenly what happens when you are no longer at the center of a national narrative. And so they reached out to try to suppress some of these views and that was kind of mostly still uncoordinated. But where we are now, Sam is, it's moved into this new direction of using the apparatus of the State, the State Legislature, most notably in Texas and in Florida, to declare whole topics off limits. And so, not only to, you know, change the curriculum, to punish the schools to threaten, you know, decertification, or to threaten librarians with $10,000 fines and felony convictions for providing access to viewpoints that are not popular with a certain group in that same demographic group. So I think, where we now is, where we are now, is people that have seized the apparatus of State government to impose their viewpoints on a largely unwilling population.

Sam Scinta: And and what is simply remarkable about that now, obviously one can talk about the difference between K-6 schools, middle and high schools, and then public libraries. What we're seeing, at least from the statistics is this is happening across the board. So it is. This is not just a K-6 school where obviously even the Supreme Court has held, maybe the State has the ability to come in and maybe be a more restrictive of free speech. Of course, that you know that there's a logic there, but when we get to public libraries and them being targeted. Here, we're talking about adults. We're talking about public access. And we're talking about something that seems to just basically contravene the expressed language of the First Amendment that government shall not. And yet here you go with government imposing those viewpoints.

Jamie LaRue: Well, that's right. And I think what happens is people come up, and this is an attempt to repurpose the fundamental mission of the Public Library. And so, for instance, I'm dealing with this right now in my own, my own library. We have some people that come in and say the books that you have here a manga series that do show some sexual content. These things are inappropriate for children. Children is a very elastic term. Does that mean 6-year-olds who are not interested in this? Does it mean 17-year-olds who one year later are old enough to vote or to marry or to serve in the military, and they say things like your job is to be a moral enforcer of my parental rights. And what I always say to them is at first, I think it's worth noticing that it is not the purpose of the library to prevent people from reading. It's to encourage people to read, right. And then the other side is that you know we don't belong to any one perspective in American society. The role of the library is to hold up that mirror to the culture, and that means we're mostly looking backward. But we're also seeing change in our society for some people, change is not a good thing

Sam Scinta: oh, absolutely. Yeah, and it just it seems to, I love where you're talking about about the repurposing, the identity, in a in essence, of a public library that for so long. The idea was a public library was to just pull a term right from one of the Supreme Court's cases, the marketplace of ideas, I mean. This was the embodiment of this notion of a marketplace of ideas. This is where you could go and find things, like you would go to a grocery store. Oh, I want grape nuts this week, and I want, you know, this sort of mustard, and next week I might want different things. But that market having a broad array of things for us to then choose and to actively make those choices is the key. So this idea of limiting that choice to me just seems well problematic to begin with, but again undermining so much of what our history has has has seemed to try to evolve, to both protect and to promote.

Jamie LaRue: I also think there's been kind of a change in the tone of public debate about this. So these are not people offering sober reassessments of the state of our collections. This is the rhetoric of rage. These are people who come in, and they assert just out of the gate that you know they're angry, angry, angry. The librarian needs to be fired. The board needs to be disbanded. The library needs to be defunded because someone had the audacity to put a book out that reflected someone else's propaganda. My propaganda is sacrosanct, but your propaganda is immoral, and so that this kind of intimidating, bullying approach to public institutions is, I think, a a matter of great concern to me, because it indicates a deeper fraying of the Social Contract.

Sam Scinta: Well, yeah, absolutely. You hit it right on the head there, and I think I love this idea of well, your viewpoint, my viewpoint. I'm pretty sure I can walk into any a public library in the country right now and find a just as an example here at Danielle Steele novel. Right? So I can tell you that the salacious content in that book is going to be fairly high, too. Right? So

Jamie LaRue: it it turns out that human beings have been interested in sex for a long time.

Kateri Kramer: You don't say.

Jamie LaRue: Even before the Internet.

Kateri Kramer: I'm just curious kind of along these lines like. And this might be a difficult question to answer. Do you get the impression that the people who are putting these censorship attempts forward are like actually reading the book start to finish.

Jamie LaRue: I would say that it's very rare that they do read the book, yeah, and it. And in fact, in what librarians do when someone comes in and complains about a book that's their First Amendment right to that say, certainly have the right to object to things. I object to lots of stuff and then we hand them. The request for reconsideration. Where one of the questions we ask is: “did you read the whole book? What did you think the theme of it was? What would you offer? That would be an alternative to this?” And it's amazing to me how often. I see lately people that just check: “no, didn't read it.” What do you object to? I object to this phrase. I object to this panel of a graphic novel that I got from a conservative blog from the Moms For Liberty. I haven't looked at the book. I have no intention of reading the book, but I walked in with a list of 20 of these little naughty bits, these snippets of sexual activity, that I read aloud at a board meeting with great relish, and then demand immediate action. So I have, people in some cases don't have kids complaining about children's books that they haven't read

Kateri Kramer: Is this kind of what's happening right now at your library. I know for me, just like reading the article and like hearing about it in the news and stuff and seeing exactly what goes into that. Well, first of all, I was like how our librarians, not filled with rage every single day, because that's how I felt after just reading the article, but also like it just doesn't seem sustainable long term that you guys are consistently having to fight those battles.

Jamie LaRue: Well, sustainable is an interesting thing, you know. I remember when I worked for the Office for Intellectual Freedom. We would get these phone calls from people who were just overwhelmed and shocked by the nastiness and the personal quality of the attacks. So you've got a Christian mom who's been raising a couple of kids at home. And now suddenly, she's told that she's a pedophile and a groomer, and she's harming children, and they're shocked. And so when they first call the Office for Intellectual Freedom. They're just kind of sobbing quietly into the phone. They feel attacked and greatly diminished by all that. Is it sustainable? No, I think. What we have to learn is that, on the one hand we cannot dodge the nature of the controversy. I think what I have learned is that if we are to get through what looks to me like a dark time in American history, we have to step into the heart of the controversy. We have to re-articulate the principles of this institution because institutions have been under attack in America for a long time, it's going to take us a while to turn it around.

Kateri Kramer: Sam. Sorry I don't wanna just keep asking questions, but I also have a lot of them. What's the difference between the book banning in public libraries versus school libraries. Is there a difference? Is it happening at the same rate at both? Does it seem like different books are being targeted in one versus the other.

Jamie LaRue: Well, the books are the same. Almost all the challenges that are being fielded by either institution focus on LGBTQ issues, or people of color. You know, the language is, this is sexually inappropriate. But the deeper meaning of it is we're focusing on these 3% of our collections that focus on these new, previously marginalized voices. The difference between the school and the public library, though, is that it really began targeted for the schools for 2 reasons. One, if you have kids in the school, you have this emotional investment, right? So you're reaching right into this kind of parental fear that I talked about. The other thing is that schools are in loco parentis. You know. They are taking care of the child while you are absent, so it feels somehow like they should be expected to act more like parents. The other thing and this is a sad fact is that school libraries have been disappearing at a phenomenal rate, or in the past 5 years. We have lost 20% of our school librarians in the nation. And so there are fewer and fewer people round to articulate these values or to build thoughtful collections, and that also means that the school libraries or the school institution itself either doesn't have or doesn't remember that it has policies that govern how you handle a reconsideration. So a bunch of people that are angry show up. They yell at the School Board, they're thinking, oh, my God, we've got to pass a bond election in a year! Let's just appease everybody and calm them all down. And so they're more successful when they tackle the school libraries. Public libraries are a little better practiced at it, and more of us have those policies, and we remember what they are.

Kateri Kramer: Is there different legislation to like? Would a school like be able to just say like, I'll just take this off the shelf or no, I won't, because it's like not necessarily governed. Or would that be the case with like a private school versus a public school.

Jamie LaRue: Well, private schools aren't subject to State laws in the in the same way they can choose their own curriculum. But yeah, it was very frightening to me when Texas kind of kicked this off. Well, it was Texas and Florida, Texas went first. They began with this Representative Kraus sent a letter to the Education Agency in Texas to say, Here's a list of 850 titles. Nobody knows where that list came from, but it was all about LGBTQ and people of color, and said, Do you have these books? I want to know from every school in the State, and how much taxpayer money did you spend for them? Well, very quickly layout. Texas went to their school library and said, Oh, my gosh! We've got the State that's mad at us. They're coming for us. And they removed 400 books from their collection. Well, that's intimidation. That's government by bullying. It is less likely in in public libraries, but I know that in, I think it was Idaho might have been Oklahoma. They floated this idea kind of based on the Texas abortion law. So if I'm a parent and I complain about a book, and you school librarian refused to remove the book immediately. I charge you with $10,000 as a fine, and you can't go to GofundMe. You have to pay it yourself.

Kateri Kramer: Wow!

Jamie LaRue: So that's the shift, not just from criminalizing a viewpoint, criminalizing a book. It's criminalizing access to the book. And the people who provide access to it.

Kateri Kramer: Which is just, eh!

Sam Scinta: What always surprises me in this, too, is, I mean, obviously, you're absolutely right, encapsulating the current rage and and push to ban certain types of books. But then, when you go through the top, 100 books that have been banned, say, over the last 20 years, some of the other titles that pop out and are just shocking, I think, to your to your average reader, Junie B. Jones. Right? A wonderful series for little kids to read about a mischievous little kid calls for ban because it's an inappropriate role model for young people. Captain Underpants the same way. You know, you can't have a can't have a character like that. But then even some classics of the American Canon, Of Mice and Men I know, has been a frequent top 10 appearance in that list. To Kill a Mockingbird, obviously Huckleberry Finn. You know, books that have challenged, I think a lot of people to think about deeper social issues as well. And so again, you're seeing these bans hitting not just what a lot of people are thinking about in terms of some of the targets today, but some things that just make up important elements or books that we've shared with kids and with classes for decades.

Jamie LaRue: Well, one of the things I say in the book was that probably Banned Books Week is the American Library Association's most successful campaign ever. It's so simple. You take a bunch of books, you put some yellow crime tape around it, and you say people don't want you to read this. Well, the first thing that happens. You want to get under that yellow tape and say, What don't they want me to read? And then the second thing you find out is that the book that you love, the one that made you who you are is bound to be on that list every time.

Sam Scinta: Absolutely. And I think that's, this is the education piece of it right to explain to people that it gets back to. We were talking about before that. It is, this is not just the things that maybe you don't like. It is the things that maybe you love as well. And when we turn that over to the government to say you get to be the decider in terms of what people should like or be allowed to have, and not. Obviously, that's a dangerous proposition, because obviously you're going to lose some things that maybe you love as well as the things that you don't love. And what I one of the things I always like to tell my classes is there's rare, in fact, I think that it it is a 0 batting average throughout American history, where we look back at times where we were censorious or or banned speech or expression in a a major way, where we look back on that time and say. Oh, yeah, that was a high moment for American freedom. And so something that we should be proud of. It seems like we always look back on those those periods with a great deal of regret and and frustration. Do you see the same thing happening? You know, 20 years hence with this period.

Jamie LaRue: No, it's funny. I remember that. When my own children were very small there began to be this big push back against public education. It's like, you know, we're not sticking to standards, and our kids can't read and write. And I got very you know, kind of caught up in this movement, and I myself became an anti-institutionalist for a while. It's like you have to change. And there was this kind of baby boomer idea that, you know, if there's a difference between my personal values and institutional values, one of us has to change, not me. You have to change and then, all of a sudden, I realized that some years later I no longer felt that way that I had matured and I hope that many of the people that are now, you know, leading the book, banning parades will look back and say “so, I looked around at all the things that are going on in the world. And I decided that the problem was that children were reading too much.” There's something about that that just doesn't seem right

Sam Scinta: Well. And we're and we're wanting to ask questions. And we're wanting to expand their knowledge and learn empathy. And all of these things that we learn about other parts of the world that maybe they haven't been directly exposed to in and obviously again, there, there are bounds and I those are common sense bounds, but in terms of just understanding the distinctness of our cultural and a demographic makeup that that you would just hope that that people would want that just be able to better understand who we are. As a nation.

Jamie LaRue: I was talking to someone recently who was just talking about. You know the good old days, what America was good, and why can't we just go back to it like that? I say so. What's what are the good old days that you're thinking of? As well, you know, like 1959, 1960, you know post war. Everybody was having babies, you know. There was a I said so. A lot of union jobs. Well, not the union jobs said. And then there was McCarthy, where all that it took to destroy your reputation and your career was to accuse you of being a Communist, which was a largely undefined term. And so I think we always have this tendency that once a few years have gone by we go back and pretty it up, and it's always, you know, we edit our memories till finally they comport with our current prejudices, and that's when everything was good.

Sam Scinta: Now do you take solace from the fact? And and maybe this is where I was trying to get to before as well, that there seems to be a real big push back by young people. About these book bans. Did.

Does that give you some hope that perhaps we're? You know we're bound for a better future.

Jamie LaRue: Yes, it really does. And I think I saw this even with my with my own kids. They grew up as part of the most diverse generation in American history. And so when you start to hear these racist things that come from the culture because they're out there, they look at this and say, Well, half of my friends are black. You know, and so all of a sudden, it's like this speech that's coming to me seems so out of sync with my own experience. And I can remember having this really interesting conversation when I was at ALA, we did diversity training. Many companies do. And they said, Okay, pick someone who's not like you. And this 24-year-old young woman came over and she was, you know, biracial. And the first question was describe someone that you know you feel comfortable with, and she says, well, when I was growing up in Texas I lived in a neighborhood where everybody kinda looked like me, and I'm very comfortable with people who look like me. Kinky hair, brown skinned, you know, dark eyes. And you know, funny. So okay, got it. So then what sort of people are you uncomfortable with? And she said, Well, frankly, old white guys like you. I said, I know, yeah, I kind of understand that, too. And she said, What about you? Who you comfortable with? And I said, Well, you know, when I was a kid it was like I grew up in this family environment, where I had a very verbally abusive father and a very kind mother. And so the choices that I made when I was a kid was like, I divided people into 2 camps. They were nice, or they were mean and it was fascinating to have this discussion with somebody about what your identity is? Is it something that's baked into you because of your race, or your ethnicity, or your religion? Or is it something that you choose to be. I choose to be kind as opposed to. I choose, you know I I'm just born this way, and this is the way I am, and so I. There is an openness to identity and to greater acceptance and tolerance in this generation growing up because they've always been in the middle of it.

Sam Scinta: And so looking now bigger because you are a librarian, right? You've worked with public libraries, your most of your career. Are you hopeful for public libraries? Are they going to be able to navigate this and come out the other side at least at a minimum existing and and stable, and hopefully, maybe even thriving, as a result of this?

Jamie LaRue: I certainly hope so. Here's what I believe. I think that if we, if these institutions that helped make America. If we are to survive we can't just duck our heads and hope it blows over. We have to own with pride the things that our institutions stand for and articulate those values in the public square. One of the things I talk about in the book is this, a profoundly provocative essay that I read in 19. That was written in 1951 by Eric Hoffer, the True Believer, and he was just kind of again talking about. How did it happen that the world went crazy to form this World War II. And, you know, led to all the genocide. And you know just the rise of authoritarianism and what he concluded was that there were 2 phases. There were the men of words, people who came in and articulated all these wild positions, followed by men of action, who put those ideas into action. And I think right now we are in this kind of maybe tipping point where all of us who believe in democracy, all of us who believe in real freedom or real liberty, the ability to investigate the world around you, and to draw your own conclusions. If we don't speak up, we will be silenced.

Sam Scinta: That is, that is an absolutely beautiful way to put it. And again, I think this is why your book is so important because it provides that bigger context that so often is missing, that this is part of our for lack of better word, democratic-republican virtue. And here I'm talking small d small r, nothing to do with the parties but this whole idea, that is citizens. This is our opportunity. Well, that is, that is beautifully said. And let's hope that that we can do this again. Jamie, we're gonna have to have you back on sometime, and maybe in about 6 months. And what we'll do is talk about how things maybe have progressed. But what we're gonna do now is my favorite segment of each episode. Where we talk about books that we're reading. Our “hey, what you reading?” section. And this time what we're looking at our literary works, nonfiction or fiction, that highlight, the importance of safeguarding against censorship. So we always start with our guest. Jamie, what do you have in mind for recommendations?

Jamie LaRue: I really want everybody to read the True Believer. As I say in the essay of all the books that I've defended, and I've overseen over 1,200 challenges to library materials. The single, most provocative, thoughtful, controversial book I've read is this, The True Believer, and I've never gotten a challenge to that. So so let's start with that. I also really like George Lakoff's work, and he and there's a copy of the new, the all new. Don't Think of an Elephant!:

Know Your Values and Frame the Debate. And I think this is something that he called out in a way that I hadn't read anywhere before, and that said, How do you change somebody's mind? And the short answer is, it's really hard to change somebody's mind. You have to change their heart. We are wired for story. If I start tossing a bunch of facts at you, you're gonna dig in your heels and fight me every step of the way. But if I can get you to buy into a story, I can get you to open your mind to a new possibility. I can give you a new frame for the world and then, I repeat it, repeat it, repeat it, repeat it, and now you believe it's true. And so I think just understanding how we come to hold the beliefs we have and how we can change and influence other people's minds without being tyrannical about it. That's a pretty important contribution to our discussion.

Sam Scinta: Absolutely wonderful books! You and I bonded early on a shared love of The True Believer. So that is a great recommendation. Great, both great recommendations. How about you, Kateri?

Kateri Kramer: So I chose. I have to look at this, because I always forget the subtitle On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint by Maggie Nelson. I love Maggie Nelson to the Moon and back. Sure, her writing is amazing, but I also just I don't know. I like the approach with this book, and how it takes it's definitely not as hybrid as some of her other stuff like Bluets. It's but it has I think it has like that hybrid ethos to it, and so it's split up into 4 sections — art, sex, climate, drugs, I think, is the other one. And she she takes kind of this idea of like the personal and making it larger, and then she ties together this idea of what is freedom, the linguistic approach to that word? And then how does that like tied to care, care for others and care for ourselves. It's just yeah. It's just really good. And she researches so thoroughly beforehand that she gets to like pull in all of these different references. So it's almost like you're getting ideas for other books as you go. But you're it's woven so well into everything else that it doesn't feel like she's just like name dropping her research. Yeah, I don't know. It's just really good. And she's really good.

Jamie LaRue: Well, Sam, what are you reading?

Sam Scinta: Well, I've got. I've got 3 recommendations here, and a as with so much my stuff. They have a bit of a political bent as well. The first is Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment by the great, a late Anthony Lewis, who also did the seminal book on the New York Times versus Sullivan case that articulated the freedom of the press. But this I first I just love the title because right there encapsulates why, our First Amendment is important. It is freedom for the thought we hate, and that is how broad a protection we have in this society that we don't have to like it. We just have to make space for it, because we all are entitled to our own opinions, but we have to recognize other people have their opinions as well. So he does a wonderful job of talking about both the legal evolution and the societal importance of this. My second is a little bit different. But it's a book that I I've been teaching a lot lately, and I read and reread it was, it's it's basically an essay that then was packaged into a book last year called On Lying and Politics by Hannah Arendt, but in that collection is her seminal essay: Truth and Politics, which really dives into the whole issue of the tenuous relationship that truth has in our political world. But why we, as citizens, really depend on having a society that understands things like facts and shared knowledge? And what is the danger of losing all of that. She's just such a great thinker on issues of totalitarianism and the threats having lived through it. Having written about that extensively. It's a very deep piece. But I what I always remind my students. It was a piece that was published in the New Yorker, in a popular magazine back in the late sixties, and it just, you know you read it today and go. My goodness, this is like an academic article. But that's what we expect from citizens right is to be able to read stuff like that and talk about it. And then the last one is just a little bit of a shameless plug for Fulcrum. But in addition to this book this year we we released an an old book, older title of ours called Stifled Laughter by an author, Claudia Johnson. And this is a wonderful, very, very funny story of one woman's fight to save the classics in Florida school rooms. So she had found out that things like Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and works of Shakespeare were being canceled by certain Florida schools, and she fought this all the way to the steps of the Supreme Court. So it just goes to show the breadth of what can be taken away by the government, and why that is such a threat. But she also has a wonderful Southern sense of humor. So it's a fun read!

James LaRue: I love that book. But I really wanna know. And maybe you know the answer, Sam, I know that once she stood up to the school board, then the next thing that happened was her house burned down. Was that related in any way?

Sam Scinta: Well, fortunately not. But it's yeah. So it seemed like the some something was going on there in the ether. Well, Jamie LaRue, thank you so much for joining us, and thank you so much for being one of the defenders of free speech and against banning of content out there in our libraries, and just being such a great librarian and a model for other librarians and people who want to defend what this country is all about. We really really appreciate you joining us. As I mentioned, we'll have you back again. But thank you so much for taking the time today.

Jamie LaRue: Thank you.

Sam Scinta: Okay. And thanks, as always, and everybody keep on reading.

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