Letter to the Editor RTSA

The national political debate regarding the banning of books in schools has reached a fever pitch in Somerset. And that’s exactly what this whole debate is: political.

A book challenge was initiated by three women who claim not to be affiliated with a national organization called Moms for Liberty, but their social media profiles suggest otherwise. Moms for Liberty is a fringe group created by the Florida Republican Party, aiming to force everyone to live by the same extreme ideology they do.

The irony of it all? Moms for Liberty is hell-bent on taking away the freedoms of local students and parents.

Let’s get a few things perfectly clear about the books being debated in Somerset. Exactly none of the 32 challenged books are required reading. Zero. It is 100% incumbent on the student to check them out on their own free will, and if parents object, they can put their student on a list that prohibits them from checking out these books.

That’s how the process is supposed to work.

Many of the books on the list delve into difficult topics. All of them use a “coming of age” theme, a genre of books focusing on the growth of children into adults. These are books with teenage characters experiencing what it is like to grow up and encounter a journey that may not be all sunshine and rainbows.

That’s life.

Shielding young people from hard conversations and avoiding uncomfortable details doesn’t make those things go away. The books speak to the students who experience these types of situations and show that they are not alone. These books can help students who feel marginalized as they experience something we often do not talk about openly… especially in a small, conservative community like Somerset.

Let’s not be the community that bans books. Instead, let’s be a community that allows students and parents the freedom to choose what they want to read. Let’s be the community that embraces diversity and supports our young people as we help them grow into responsible adults.

(17) comments

Katie Dahl

I really hope this doesn’t become an issue here in Hudson - there are many more valuable and impactful areas to focus our energies to collaboratively support our PUBLIC education system.

My perspective as a parent with young kids currently in the Hudson district is that I want my kids to be prepared for the complexity and amazingness of our vast country, which requires valuing and learning about all people, experiences, etc. Not to mention the benefits of critical thinking skills, open conversations and more. In my opinion, there is FAR more risk in the naivety, desire for control and overall close-mindedness of this “Mom’s for Liberty” group's efforts than in any book sitting in a school library right now. It's also pretty ironic that these "freedom fighters" are restricting information and discouraging freedom of thought and undermining one of the primary functions of education - teaching students how to think for themselves. Overall, I think this group is scared of the world today and frantically attempting to control what they can. They also claim it is for the "protection of the kids," but it is obviously so much deeper than that for them.

Excerpts from this recent article in Time magazine articulate the situation well; we are unfortunately a microcosm of what is happening at a national level right now.

"Parents who opt for public schools, rather than private academies or homeschooling, are signing up for a system designed to serve entire communities and general interests; they are pooling their resources with other families to raise future generations. It is one thing to believe that parents have the right to forego regular schooling in favor of imparting an individual belief system to children at home; it is quite another to insist that public school curricula and libraries be remade to match those predilections.

These tactics also risk denying and defeating children’s own sense of educational and intellectual agency. Efforts by parents to dictate what books their teens read and subjects they study stand in the way of allowing children to develop the autonomy and judgment they will need in adulthood. Schools should breed critical thinking such that no book or lesson has the power to indoctrinate a worldview. A major purpose of a library, a broad curriculum, and of the protection of free speech itself is the notion that exposure to the panoply of available ideas and narratives is what enables us to form and test our own opinions and beliefs.

The same tensions provoking these battles are also roiling society more broadly. Social and generational shifts in thinking about racial justice, sexual orientation, and gender identity have stoked concerns in some quarters about how marriages, families, and society at large may be changing in unrecognizable, irreversible ways. The impulse of parents to shield their children from what seem like alien social forces and values is age-old. The challenge is compounded in an era in which traditional geographic boundaries that demarcated communities are eroded by online platforms that make traditional controls on what children see, hear and know virtually impossible to enforce. Some parents who find themselves raising children in an information ecosystem run amok have sought to more aggressively police the arenas they can control, training their sights on the public school classroom and library.

In an era of intensifying polarization and fragmentation, public schools are among the few unifying institutions with the potential to help solder together a diverse rising generation of Americans ready and equipped to live together, solve problems and help build a better nation. If parents are worried about the books their children may find in school, they can speak to a teacher or librarian, and—even more importantly—engage with their child about the values and stories they wish to emphasize. The phrase “parents’ rights” may have a nice ring to it, but the agenda now afoot in its name should sound alarms for all those who care about the future of public education."

Linda Vivoda-Sadee

First amendment of the United States Constitution ratified December 15, 1791

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


Aaron Daigle

This is NOT a freedom of speech issue. Giving pornography to kids is NOT LEGAL nor is it beneficial in ANY way. Freedom of speech has it's limitations where it delivers harm to others. This situation clearly qualifies!

Charles Rang

Mr. Daigle. Instead of following the guidelines set down many years ago, you continue to define works of literature as pornography. A book that helps young people understand that others like them have survived and become good adults is not pornography.

Sara Bocklund

If Mom's For Liberty "agenda" is to remove pornographic and disgusting books from CHILDREN'S curriculum and CHILDREN'S library , then the agenda is a good one.

No ones freedoms are being removed! These books can be checked out at the public library and are available for purchase!

If "fringe" is defined as people who seek to protect our kids from the Lefts agenda to sexualize them earlier and earlier and introduce topics that have no place in school, then good for these "fringe Right" parents. I guess that makes me fringe as well. However my guess is that the majority of parents would agree with this conversation thus making the category of "fringe" inaccurate.

Aaron Daigle

Excellent point! Plenty of over generalizing to go around without facts to show who is actually the majority in this situation.

Jay Austin

The books in question are pornography, plan and simple. Let kids be kids and protect their innocence as long as you can.


Thank you, Dan, for not being political - not extreme right nor extreme left. You are spot on, and none of the books are illegal. Parents should be allowed to make choices and guide their own children.

Aaron Daigle

How is this not political exactly? Yes, they are targeting minors with sexual material. This is not "birds and the bees" stuff, it will make many adults blush.

The conversation is about promotion of these themes and ease of access to the vulnerable. If these books were found in a brick and mortar store, you would need to be 18 with an ID to buy. No one is taking away parents rights.

Aaron Daigle

I don't know specifically what books Somerset is considering removing from schools, but the ones involved in national debate show some very disturbing things, even to adults. Here's one example of many: https://twitter.com/irrationalhenry/status/1652864041021476865?s=20

Other examples include adult intercourse with minors and graphic oral s*x how-to's that INCLUDE PICTURES. This is not education, it's pornography. If you think these topics are okay for school age kids, then YOU are the problem.

The second point is that these books are not being banned from a PUBLIC library, they are being removed from a SCHOOL library. In other words, these are targeting kids and perverting their minds. If a parent has a specific issue they want to discuss, their SCHOOL library should not be the first place they look for this extremely damaging content. IF these are the types of books being allowed in Somerset schools, there should be criminal charges filed against the school board. I don't know how this is a two-sided issue.

P.S. I can't even write the words describing these acts without my comment censored due to "profanity" by the rules of this publication. I think my point is crystal clear. This is the message: "Your comment cannot be accepted due to the presence of profanity. Please remove any objectionable content from your comment and try again."

John Smith

Its not book banning it's removing illegal books to minors. its clear as day this article is far left and is fringe. illegal sexual content in books for children will lie and say "book banning"

Linda Vivoda-Sadee

Great letter exposing the agenda along with the background of Moms for Liberty (MFL). As a parent who has always encouraged and guided my children’s love of reading, I appreciate the context you give to the book banning issue explaining how all parents have the freedom to choose their child’s books. As we recognize that MFL is using book banning in area schools as a symbolic tactic that pushes a larger political agenda that takes away our freedoms, we can show our opposition by attending school board meetings. Our engagement against banning books gives notice to this national organization’s efforts to undermine and cause chaos in our local public schools and rural communities. No matter who we are or what we believe, we can all agree we’re a community that supports our young people.

Aaron Daigle

Wait, so Democrats are completely fine to run a full Marxist authoritarian nanny state and now you're cool showing pornography to minors because of FREEDOM?? Wow.

Charles Rang

Mr. Daigle: Would you please explain where you found evidence in the works of Karl Marx that recommend book banning? Your reference that Democrats prefer a "nanny state" in Wisconsin seems not to be supported by facts such as the refusal of Republican legislators to repeal the 1849 law that sounds very much like a "nanny" telling a pregnant woman: "Now, now, dear, I know you feel ill or the baby might have a serious birth defect, but momma knows better. If you get really, really sick, come ask me again."

Sara Bocklund

Arron is completely on point.

Sara Bocklund

Parents can encourage the love for reading without having this content in public schools. Your freedoms are not being infringed upon, you may check out pornographic books in the public library, even in the children's sections if you have younger children.

If exposing the lefts agenda to sexualize and introduce inappropriate content is considered causing chaos, then so be it.

There is a HUGE difference between supporting our young people and having inappropriate content introduced to them. That has nothing to do with supporting them, in fact the opposite would be true.

David Brummel

FACT: Public Schools ARE NOT Public Libraries. Just because a Public School has a library in it does not make it public, school libraries are in fact CLOSED to the public, you must be a student or staff member to access the library.

100% agree books in the public library should not be censored, parents can send their kids in there to pick out whatever book they desire, let them check it out with or without them, take it home and read it and discuss it and approach it however they want. Additionally, parents are able to see and easily verify what books your child (who is a minor) is checking out. You as a parent also know that your child is there “looking” for books in an entire building full of them! Public Libraries are NOT School Libraries.

Our children attend school to be EDUCATED. School libraries are in a school to help children select books to learn and develop reading skills and assist as research material to learn how to find information for class projects. Book “censoring” (as someone here put it) in the public-school setting is absolutely necessary to draw clear boundary lines of appropriateness of content in order to protect a child’s developing mind and prevent teachers and staff from going to JAIL. (no one is exempt from the law within these walls! And these students under the age of 18 ARE in fact minors) –public schools are highered through our tax dollars to educate and protect our children while they are there. We have written approval and consent forms as Guardians that we fill out for cough drops and nicknames to be used by and for our kids – but apparently not sexual content? Leaving out questionable and sexual content from a school library does ZERO harm to our children, whereas putting it in clearly creates issues and divides us (see all of the above comments including the ones you agree with). *Please, stop confusing Public Schools with Public Libraries*

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