By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I abhor censorship, especially when it comes to books and things like banned books lists and instances where people who deem themselves more forward thinking than all the rest of us in their decisions to “protect” us from offensive material.

You will have no doubt heard by now about the decision to strip Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from a prestigious book award title:

A division of the American Library Association has voted to remove the name of Laura Ingalls Wilder from a major children’s book award, over concerns about how the author portrayed African Americans and Native Americans.

The board of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) made the unanimous decision to change the name on Saturday, at a meeting in New Orleans. The name of the prize was changed from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award.

The association said Wilder “includes expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with ALSC’s core values”.

The first award was given to Wilder in 1954. The ALSC said Wilder’s work continued to be published and read but her “legacy is complex” and “not universally embraced.”

So this is my question:  why must something be “universally embraced” for it to be acceptable?

As a child I read every one of the Little House on the Prairie books; I loved them.  They transported me to that frontier era and taught me a lot about how those early settlers survived.  I was fascinated by them.

I never read the books as a child and thought, “Well, my goodness, that’s an awfully racist way to depict Indians.”

The Association for Library Service to Children has the right to make decisions about their own award, certainly.  What concerns me, and always has when it comes to things like this, is where does it stop?  Are we now to go back and revise every piece of literature that mentions Indian violence on the frontier?

What else in our American literary canon might offend someone?  The list could be pretty extensive.

This is so closely related to those people who want to ban To Kill a Mockingbird or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from reading lists and libraries because they contain language we no longer use today.

Somebody cue Guy Montag…he can handle this.

 

 

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.  She is the author of Cane River Bohemia (Oct. ’18).  Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter.

Maitre’D: Good Evening. Welcome to the Woke Arms. Do you have a reservation?

Reilly: Yes Reilly party of six?

Maitre’D: Ah yes, Reilly, party of six for dinner at 7 PM [looks at watch] 5:30 PM, you’re right on the dot! If you will all follow me please.

Reilly: [following down a long corridor] Yes I was meaning to ask you about that? Why is it that we have to arrive at 5:30 PM for a 7 PM reservation?

Maitre’D: Why to give you time to fill out the questionnaire, if your party can step though here please and take a seat in front of the screens.

Reilly: Questionnaire?

Maitre’D: Yes, here at the Woke Arms we pride ourselves on inclusiveness to all races, creeds and sexual orientations etc, so naturally we need to confirm your status as sufficiently woke if you are to dine at our restaurant. After all we can’t have any person whose opinions might are unacceptable in our establishment, if you would sign in please.

Reilly: Sign in?

Maitre’D: Yes a name and full address so we can cross check you with public records of political contributions over the last 20 years to make sure that at no time were any of your dollars spent to support the wrong sort of people. We’ll also need your twitter and instagram names and any names you used to comment on blogs or message boards to be sure you haven’t posted anything online inconsistent with our standards. While that check is running you can begin the questionnaire on the next tab

Reilly: [ Clicking Over ] But there are over 200 questions here!

Maitre’D: Two hundred and seven at the moment to be precise.

Reilly: At the moment?

Maitre’D: Why yes, the definition of being woke is very fluid and we have to be sure our clientage meets the current acceptable standard of wokeness at any given moment.

Reilly: Kindergarten Cop? What on earth his that?

Maitre’D: Ah yes most of our under 40 patrons don’t recognize it. that’s a film from 1990. There is a particular scene in where a child claims boys have a penis and girls have a vagina. If a person is not sufficiently outraged by it then obviously such a person is not subtitle clientele for the Woke arms

Reilly: [Scrolling down] And this question. “Did you at any time oppose Gay Marriage after May 9th 2012? May 9th 2012, why that date in particular?

Maitre’D: Well, that was the day President Obama publicly came out for gay marriage so naturally any failure to publicly support gay marriage after that date would be considered unacceptable and since Barack Obama was clearly not a bigot we must presume that any Democrat or independent, who didn’t come out for gay marriage before that date was waiting for the President’s lead. Republicans naturally would be filtered out long before they got to that question.

Reilly: Naturally, And this question concerning Pope Francis, it changed on the screen just now, right as I was about to answer it.

Maitre’D: Yes, unfortunately Frances’ pronouncements can be so varied by the day that it can be a trifle challenging. we’ve had the same problem with Starbucks coffee chain as well.

Reilly: [skimming through the rest] I can see why you need that 90 minutes, but at least when we get through these question we’ll know we are dining with the right people.

Maitre’D: That’s our guarantee. It’s why we have screens at the tables so updated questions can be posed between courses on the off chance someone inappropriate makes it to table. In fact a successful night dining here is a requirement on job applications for many gender studies departments and diversity programs nationwide.

Reilly: My God, that’s what I call being woke! Very well done, we’re all proud of you!

Maitre’D: [Voice suddenly dropping] I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you and you’re party to leave.

Reilly: Leave! Us? WHY?

Maitre’D: One can not invoke a deity without doing so in the contest of supporting undocumented immigration, except for Allah of course.

Reilly: But…. but… what about dinner, and what about our reputations?

Maitre’D: Well we will accept a future reservation once we receive proof of a contribution of at least $5,000 to the Democrat National Committee and to Black Lives Matter. As for dinner, there is always the hot dog wagon just outside side door across the street. Funny, they seem to do a very good business, I can’t imagine why.