Opinion | Why Everybody Digs Book Bannings

Jack Shafer

Excerpt: Like El Niño and solar flares, the impulse to ban books seems to be a cyclical force of nature. In ordinary times, book bannings surge and then, like clockwork, recede away like floodwaters. But these are not normal times. Over the past nine months, we’ve entered a book banning era like none other in our country’s history. Between July 2021 and the end of March 2022, an astounding 1,586 book bannings took place in 86 school districts in 26 states, according to a comprehensive PEN America study.

But behind the noise and the headlines, both the banners and the defenders are delighted by the war over books. The face-offs always leave both constituencies feeling smugly self-satisfied.