Taylor’s Take: The slippery slope

Published 9:11 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2022

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Let’s talk about slippery slopes for a moment.

Growing up in Paris, a local creek was maybe a half mile from my house, maybe less. It’s hard to remember close to thirty years later.

What I do remember, though, is my parents impressing on me the fact that if the creek bank was muddy and slippery, I’d best be careful treading on it, or I’d fall in the water and get carried away.

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That is solid advice, in my opinion. Rock solid. Tungsten steel solid. The kind of advice you can apply to many different situations.

And it’s advice I’d heed the Board of Trustees at the Clark County Library to follow in the future.

During Wednesday night’s meeting, a majority of the board voted to restrict access to the controversial graphic memoir “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe to person’s over the age of 18 – unless they have parental permission – and marked it as sexually explicit.

Several board members and speakers at the meeting expressed concern about the memoir’s graphic depiction of and frank discussion about sexuality. This argument has made it the most-challenged book in America.

So what’s my take on all this?

Well, first, let me answer some questions. Have I read the graphic novel? Yes, I have. Is it something that I’d let anyone under the age of 16 read? Probably not. Did the board act appropriately and judiciously? No, I do not think they did.

Let me explain why.

The simple reason is that the library already has a guide to help parents decide what content is appropriate for children, and the staff is trained to help patrons find alternative media if a selection does not suit parental taste.

The library also already has a well-thought-out policy regarding challenged media, which you can read more about in a story the Sun published on Tuesday.

These folks clearly know what they are doing. It’s why the graphic novel was placed in the adult biography section. I have a hunch they steer younger readers away from reading it like they have plenty of other pieces of controversial media over the years.

So if the staff knows what they are doing and have a clear protocol in place, why is the board taking it upon themselves to essentially tattoo this graphic novel as obscene?

For the complete answer, read our story on the front page of the paper or on our website, but in summation, they think they are protecting the innocence of community children.

I’m not going to call that admirable because it is low-hanging fruit. The same way going after this graphic novel is.

The library’s collection has dozens of titles that depict graphic sexual situations in written form. It has other visual novels in the teen section, such as “Attack on Titan” and “The Walking Dead,” which vividly depict the mutilation of the human body.

Where is the board’s outcry on those pieces of media? Why not suggest a thorough review of the entire collection if they care about the innocence of childhood?

According to their reasoning, that is what they should have done.

Instead, they’ve applied this to just one book. Will they do it again anytime soon? I don’t know, and I hope they have the good sense not to.

When we start selectively applying criteria to certain things and not others, we aren’t treading carefully on the slippery slope and are inviting ourselves to take a white-water ride to parts unknown.

In this case, it’s venturing toward the rapids of censorship and the limited flow of information. When we do that as a society, our democracy drowns.

That’s my take. What is yours?