Call it relocating or banning, censorship is anything but freedom

Pat Scales, a nationally known advocate for intellectual freedom, was the speaker at our March 2024 meeting. Here’s a quick overview as well as a link to the full video replay.

By Laura Haight
President, DWGC

If it seems to you that there is a concerted campaign across the US targeting specific books and authors… well, you’d be right. Speaker Pat Scales, an intellectual freedom advocate with a national footprint, needed a lot more time to give us the full picture on the state of our public and school libraries, and the right to read in South Carolina.

The prologue was three members – Janet Lomicka, Doris McLallen, and Helen Nixon – reading passages from challenged books (Arthur’s Birthday, The Giver, and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, respectively). The themes ran the gamut from an aardvark planning a birthday party to racism, incest, and rape.

Pat Scales, a nationally known advocate for intellectual freedom and defender the right to read and of libraries, wove a broad-based tale of teachers unable to teach from books that have been foundational classroom fare for decades, libraries abandoning long-held relationships with professional organizations, and the anarchy and mob rule (think Moms for Liberty) that has set classrooms, libraries, educators and parents on a collision course.

Watch the full meeting on YouTube. Skip to Pat’s presentation.

With 4,270 unique titles challenged last year, 2023 set the table for a 2024 legislative season that could see even more restrictive legislation. It’s a situation that leaves our heroes – teachers – facing difficult, perhaps impossible choices. In a state with a 2400-teacher shortfall last year, the scene is set for an epic battle.

Pat has provided a couple of resources for us: a toolkit prepared by Unite Against Book Bans provides talking points, social media tools, contact information for experts and more is one. There’s also the National Coalition Against Censorship. On their website, you’ll find great tools including a resource center to help you challenge the challengers, a guide to preparing to attend the school or library board meeting, and a database of censorship reports you can contribute to. And get connected with the Freedom to Read Foundation. Here’s also a pdf version of Pat’s slide deck, which can be a little hard to read in the recording.

If you’re concerned about this topic (and Dem Women are!), then take 30 minutes to listen to Pat Scales’ excellent presentation. This is an area we as individuals and as an organization will be engaging on all year! The link below is the full replay of the meeting, but if you want to skip right to Pat, go here.

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