American Booksellers Association or American Book Burners Association?

Okay, this is disturbing. The American Booksellers Association which, based on their name, I assume is an organization run by people who claim to love books and the free exchange of ideas, has recently apologized and promised to do better after confessing to committing two egregious errors. What was the horror they caused? Inadvertently promoting and advertising two books that are not in line with the current demands of “woke” culture.

Allison Hill, the CEO of the ABA, apologized that Candace Owens’ book Blackout was featured in lieu of a different book of the same title. Owens is an African American conservative and the book the ABA intended to promote was social justice-oriented book by Dhonielle Clayton and others. Hill blamed it on two new employees who didn’t know what they were doing and confused the two books. Now, get his, Hill explained that, “It was a terrible mistake with terrible racist implications. However, based on our investigation and the demonstrated diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) commitment of these individuals, we have no reason to believe the action was malicious in intention” (emphasis added).

Hello, children! Today’s phrase is “Cultural Revolution”. Can you say “Cultural Revolution”? Let’s use “Cultural Revolution” in a sentence. “If you refuse to commit yourself to the values of the Cultural Revolution, you’ll find yourself unemployed and a social pariah. So, we recommend you keep your mouth shut and act in lock-step with the Cultural Revolution.”

The idea that employees are expected to adhere to particular social, political, and cultural values of one side of a dispute or face the wrath of their supervisors for taking racist and malicious actions is scary. Let me give you some advise: if you ever see on a job description the expectation to demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, run like hell away from that place. Why? Because almost anything you do, even the most innocent, innocuous action, can be interpreted by others as contrary to the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Once accused of violating these values, there is almost nothing you can do to regain your credibility in the eyes of those committed to DEI. It remains to be seen if these employees will be spared based on their CEO’s explanation. One thing’s for sure, they will forever have a target on their back, with the least suspicious action likely resulting in their termination.

The second horror committed by ABA was the inclusion in a box mailing to booksellers of Irreversible Damage, a book by Abigail Shrier that warns that young girls are rushing to be identified as transgender and being allowed to begin hormone therapy and other invasive procedures and interventions with little forethought, preparation, or insight into why there has been such a surge of young girls identifying as transgender and requesting transition therapies. I wrote about this issue earlier this year, and of Planned Parenthood’s involvement. Apparently, recommending that there might be something else involved in this surge other than genuine gender dysphoria and that rushing into transition therapies, like rushing into any medical therapy, is not a good idea is sufficient to cause such pain and anger among the LGBTQIA+ (c’mon, people, really, how much longer is this going to get?) community that it requires censoring Shrier’s book and multiple mea culpas for the tragedy of sending it out to booksellers. Booksellers — you know, the kind of people who claim to love books and the free exchange of ideas. The ABA called the error a “serious, violent incident.” Really? Violent? Looking out for the genuine best interest of young girls is now violence? Well, yes, if it is interpreted as violating the interest and concerns of favored social, political, or cultural groups, such as the LBGTQIA+ community.

Let’s be clear. The ABA’s going off the deep end here is not related to their opposition to the premises offered by Owens and Shrier. In the free exchange of ideas, people are bound to disagree with each other and sometimes oppose each other’s ideas fiercely. The ABA’s going off the deep end is represented by their clear contention that Owens’ and Shrier’s ideas are not worthy of consideration and, so, ought not be proffered in the public square.

ABA does not review books for booksellers. Those booksellers who pay to participate in their program simply receive books from the ABA and decide for themselves whether any particular book is up to par. Hill has said that her members still prefer to make those decisions, rather than have the ABA make them. However, it looks like the booksellers may not have that choice in the future. Hill indicated that the ABA Board of Directors may decide to adopt a new policy that will prevent the kind of error that allowed these books through. Hill also said that a team will review books for acceptability based on whether or not they violate the United Nation’s definition of hate speech: “any kind of communication in speech, writing, or behaviour that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or group on the basis of who they are.” So, basically, anything that anyone says offends them can be defined as “hate speech,” the definition being so broad and vague.

Why are the people who claim to love books and the free exchange of ideas the ones who are recommending censoring books and ideas? This is basically the contemporary version of book burning. This is 2021. Why are people still burning books?

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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