The Times 

One book, two views


March 14, 2024

To the Editor,

“I’ve looked at life from both sides now…” by Joni Mitchell

A story told in our community is about an older female who went to CC Public Library and was confronted by a large display featuring a book opened to a page with sexual images. She was upset, especially for the children. She had previously enjoyed going to the library. I understand her shock at seeing books with sexual content displayed. It didn’t happen when we were young. Instead, we lived in ignorance. Others in our generation may have been curious and looked for information, possibly finding misinformation. Did we unintentionally hurt other people in our ignorance? “YES”.

Does this story tell us an accurate version of the situation? We will never know. It’s likely there are different viewpoints and versions. Discussing the suitability and visibility of books is a reality in our community.

That is one side of the story. Let’s consider another viewpoint. A young teenager is upset, depressed, and contemplating suicide. This child feels like they don’t belong in society. They feel flawed. The child’s church says what they feel is an abomination to the Lord. They try not to feel this way. Their feelings don’t go away. This child was born different from society’s norm—the kids at school tease and bully. The child has a few friends, but most shy away. Potential friends don’t understand the circumstances and are ignorant of facts about sexuality. The child has not told their parents or other adults because they fear disapproval and possibly being kicked out of their home. This child thinks they are the only person like this. The child is suicidal! Then, they see a glimmer of hope at the library, a book explaining their situation. There are others like them in the world. The book can “teach.” It can teach them where to go for help or how to say “No” when someone tries to abuse them. It can lead them to more education about different societies and human differences.

If a book prevents one child from committing suicide, we all benefit. That child could grow up to be the doctor who saves your life, the person who discovers the cure for cancer, or maybe a beloved musician. If a book is difficult to find, hidden, or banned, the child remains ignorant and left to a life of humiliation and rejection. That child stands a greater chance of all sorts of actions society deems unacceptable, including suicide. We all lose.

A book that some consider inappropriate for children may be a lifeline for another child.

Try to see both sides of the issue.

Carol Anderson

Dayton, Wash.


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