If the title "Parents Against Bad Books In Schools" sounds ominous, that's because it is. And it's just one of many groups gaining book-banning momentum.
What, you ask, is a "bad book?" Well, that's really the problem. But suffice it to say that oftentimes, it means sex. Especially teen sex. Or gay sex. Or homosexuality, period. Whereas in decades past, watchdog groups focused more on the occult (think Harry Potter!) now they've got sex on the brain. (Challenged books have included Running with Scissors; The Things They Carried; One Hundred Years of Solitude.) And groups like PABBIS are becoming more numerous and better organized. Says Joan Bertin of the National Coalition Against Censorship,
Groups of parents are getting together and organizing in their communities to ban books...I think what's happening is once a book is challenged in one town, people on the same wavelength, it will flag that book for them. For example, we've seen three challenges to Sherman Alexie's teen novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, all within the past three months, two in Missouri, one in Montana.
Of course, not all challenges are successful — but 25% (the estimated success rate) is a lot of books. And the problem, in some sense, is the larger issue: this isn't about individual parents throwing out books, although that's sad enough. Rather, as Bertin says, it's not in a vacuum.
We never have a problem with people who don't want their own kid to read a book...We have a problem with people who feel these books are corrosive to the culture, and they don't want them taught in schools. They think it's immoral and offends their religious values, whether they're Jewish, Christian or Muslim.
Book Banners Finding Power In Numbers [Miller-McCune]