I often wonder what it is that makes a Censor censor.  Is it a
sense of moral obligation to the populace?  Is it a desire to
protect children and adult citizens from offensive language, ideas, and
situations?  Is it an attempt to cast down all of the subjects
that run contrary to the ideals the Censor holds dear?  In many
cases, it’s difficult to tell.  In the case of Censor Steve
Abrams, Kansas State Board of Education Chairman, however, the answer
is obvious.

It seems Censor Abrams was talking about his frustration over Kansas
teachers declining to acquiesce to his ideals about intelligent design
when he tangentially mentioned a censorship case in Kansas’ Blue Valley
school district in Johnson County in which a list of fourteen books
have come under fire for containing “obscenities, vulgar language or
sexually explicit material.”

Says Censor Abrams, “They seem to indicate, ‘We don’t care what the
state board does, and we don’t care what parents want, we are going to
continue teaching evolution just as we have been doing….But I guess we
shouldn’t be surprised, because superintendents and local boards of
education in some districts continue to promulgate pornography as
‘literature,’ even though many parents have petitioned the local boards
to remove the porn.”

Ah, “porn,” is it now?  Here’s the list of Censor Abrams’ so-called porn:
All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy
Animal Dreams, Barbara Kingsolver
The Awakening, Kate Chopin
The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver
Beloved, Toni Morrison
Black Boy, Richard Wright
Fallen Angels, Walter Dean Meyers
Hot Zone, Richard Preston
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
Lords of Discipline, Pat Conroy
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey
Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison
Stotan, Chris Crutcher
This Boy’s Life, Tobias Wolff

Instead, Censor Abrams supports the local censors’ effort to replace
the books above with classics such as “Moby Dick” or with novels such
as “The Killer Angels,” which depicts graphically the death and
dismemberment of soldiers in one of the bloodiest battles in our

The scritch you hear is the sound of me scratching my head.  Let
me get this straight: you want to replace Black Boy with a book that
has the word “Dick” in it?

Now who’s being pornographic?

But–but, the censors may cry, that’s not what Moby Dick is about.  If you had read the book…

Ah.  There’s the rub.

“If you had read the book…”

Censor Abrams and his peers don’t read books.  At least, they
don’t read whole books, limiting themselves to the juicy tidbits they
call pornographic.  Take it from someone who has read all of the
books on the list—none of them are porn.  Some of them may be
offensive, some of them frank, some of them may be disturbing.  If
you don’t like any of these books, then don’t read them. It’s your
choice; it’s your freedom.

But don’t tell me I can’t read them.  And don’t tell my kids they can’t, either.

The people who wrote the First Amendment understood how important the
freedom of expression is to our democracy.  Smart people, those
folks. They foresaw times when voices that were offensive or frank
needed to be heard, and they included provisions for protecting those
voices hundreds of years in advance.  

Now that’s what I call Intelligent Design.