Book Burning? Censorship under the radar?

The New Book Banning
Children’s books burn, courtesy of the federal government.
12 February 2009

It’s hard to believe, but true: under a law Congress passed last year aimed at regulating hazards in children’s products, the federal government has now advised that children’s books published before 1985 should not be considered safe and may in many cases be unlawful to sell or distribute.


The balance of the article is below–but as you read, consider how this “safety” law effectively bans books of patriotism and American culture  written before liberal revisionists controlled the NEA and  textbook publishing. Many of these books for children3-6 th grades describe a nation that believed in God, that prayed i school, a nation that went to church, where the church was a pillar of the  community life….  Books of American heroes and pioneers with liberty in their veins….already many public schools have neglected George Washington as “irrelevant” to the modern life of American students.

Banning such books also erases an image of a wholesome America–where children lived in families with married mothers and fathers, not “Heather has Two Mommies.”   It washes away an image of America where families lived in harmony with each other and responsibility was the other side of liberty.

It erases an America where children wore modest clothing, spoke correct English and believed in God.  It erases the America where 12 year olds were not having aortions and worried about Daddy’s boyfriend.  And, of course, it would ban children’s books  pre-1985 about the lives of the saints.

The article continues:

Merchants, thrift stores, and booksellers may be at risk if they sell older volumes, or even give them away, without first subjecting them to testing—at prohibitive expense. Many used-book sellers, consignment stores, Goodwill outlets, and the like have accordingly begun to refuse new donations of pre-1985 volumes, yank existing ones off their shelves, and in some cases discard them en masse.

The problem is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), passed by Congress last summer after the panic over lead paint on toys from China. Among its other provisions, CPSIA imposed tough new limits on lead in any products intended for use by children aged 12 or under, and made those limits retroactive: that is, goods manufactured before the law passed cannot be sold on the used market (even in garage sales or on eBay) if they don’t conform. The law has hit thrift stores particularly hard, since many children’s products have long included lead-containing (if harmless) components: zippers, snaps, and clasps on garments and backpacks; skateboards, bicycles, and countless other products containing metal alloy; rhinestones and beads in decorations; and so forth. Combine this measure with a new ban (also retroactive) on playthings and child-care articles that contain plastic-softening chemicals known as phthalates, and suddenly tens of millions of commonly encountered children’s items have become unlawful to resell, presumably destined for landfills when their owners discard them. Penalties under the law are strict and can include $100,000 fines and prison time, regardless of whether any child is harmed.

Not until 1985 did it become unlawful to use lead pigments in the inks, dyes, and paints used in children’s books. Before then—and perhaps particularly in the great age of children’s-book illustration that lasted through the early twentieth century—the use of such pigments was not uncommon, and testing can still detect lead residues in books today. This doesn’t mean that the books pose any hazard to children. While lead poisoning from other sources, such as paint in old houses, remains a serious public health problem in some communities, no one seems to have been able to produce a single instance in which an American child has been made ill by the lead in old book illustrations—not surprisingly, since unlike poorly maintained wall paint, book pigments do not tend to flake off in large lead-laden chips for toddlers to put into their mouths.

At any rate, CPSIA’s major provisions went into effect on February 10. The day before, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published guidelines telling thrift stores, as well as other resellers and distributors of used goods, what they could safely keep selling and what they should consider rejecting or subjecting to (expensive) lead testing. Confirming earlier reports, the document advised that only “ordinary” children’s books (that is, made entirely of paper, with no toylike plastic or metal elements) printed after 1985 could be placed in the safe category. Older books were pointedly left off the safe list; the commission did allow an exception for vintage collectibles whose age, price, or rarity suggested that they would most likely be used by adult collectors, rather than given to children.

Since the law became effective the very next day, there was no time to waste in putting this advice into practice. A commenter at Etsy, the large handicrafts and vintage-goods site, observed how things worked at one store:

I just came back from my local thrift store with tears in my eyes! I watched as boxes and boxes of children’s books were thrown into the garbage! Today was the deadline and I just can’t believe it! Every book they had on the shelves prior to 1985 was destroyed! I managed to grab a 1967 edition of “The Outsiders” from the top of the box, but so many!

People who deal in children’s books for a livelihood now face unpleasant choices. Valorie Jacobsen of Clinton, Wisconsin, who owns a small used-book store and has sold over the Internet since 1995, commented at my blog, Overlawyered: “Our bookstore is the sole means of income for our family, and we currently have over 7,000 books catalogued. In our children’s department, 35 percent of our picture books and 65 percent of our chapter books were printed before 1985.” Jacobsen has contacted the CPSC and her congressional representatives for guidance, but to no avail. “We cannot simply discard a wealth of our culture’s nineteenth and twentieth children’s literature over this,” she writes. She remains defiant, if wary: “I was willing to resist the censorship of 1984 and the Fire Department of Fahrenheit 451 long before I became a bookseller, so I’d love to run a black market in quality children’s books—but at the same time it’s not like the CPSC has never destroyed a small, harmless company before.”

Jacobsen also worries that any temporary forbearance on the part of the CPSC, which has said that it does not plan a reseller crackdown any time soon in the absence of evidence of risk, could be abrogated without notice in the future. For one thing, new commissioners appointed by the Obama administration are expected to show less sympathy in regulating business than the current commission. In addition, the 50 state attorneys general have been empowered to enforce the law on their own, and frequently take much more aggressive legal positions than those of the federal government, sometimes teaming with private lawyers who capture a share of fines imposed.

Seizing on the “collectible” loophole, commenter Carol Baicker-McGee declared: “If nothing happens to change this law soon, I promise I will spend whatever money and devote whatever space I can to buying up these older books. I’ll be happy to label myself a collector (and I’m subversive enough to leave the books lying around where kids might ‘accidentally’ read them).” But this strategy, aside from its overtones of furtive evasion, will provide limited legal help to sellers. Under the law, they’re liable if their products will commonly be understood as intended for children’s use, even if not labeled as such.

A further question is what to do about public libraries, which daily expose children under 12 to pre-1985 editions of Anne of Green Gables, Beatrix Potter, Baden-Powell’s scouting guides, and other deadly hazards. The blogger Design Loft carefully examines some of the costs of CPSIA-proofing pre-1985 library holdings; they are, not surprisingly, utterly prohibitive. The American Library Association spent months warning about the law’s implications, but its concerns fell on deaf ears in Congress (which, in this week’s stimulus bill, refused to consider an amendment by Republican senator Jim DeMint to reform CPSIA). The ALA now apparently intends to take the position that the law does not apply to libraries unless it hears otherwise. One can hardly blame it for this stance, but it’s far from clear that it will prevail. For one thing, the law bans the “distribution” of forbidden items, whether or not for profit. In addition, most libraries regularly raise money through book sales, and will now need to consider excluding older children’s titles from those sales. One CPSC commissioner, Thomas Moore, has already called for libraries to “sequester” some undefinedly large fraction of pre-1985 books until more is known about their risks.

The threat to old books has surfaced so quickly in recent weeks that the elite press still seems unaware of it. The wider pattern of CPSIA’s disruptive irrationality and threat to small businesses has been covered reasonably well by the local press around the country. Some papers have investigated particular aspects of the law—the Los Angeles Times has tracked its menace to the garment industry, and the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal the general plight of thrift stores—but almost no one has cared to consider the law’s broad array of unintended consequences, let alone ask what went wrong in the near-unanimous rush to passage of this feel-good law.

The New York Times, which last year vigorously cheered the passage of CPSIA in both its news and editorial columns, occupies a class by itself in almost completely ignoring the law’s wrenching effects as its effective date has arrived. The Times used to cover the book business, as well as apparel, retailing, and product design, to name a few of the sectors hit hard by CPSIA. Yet the paper has remained entirely silent on the law in recent weeks, aside from one brief wire-service item and a post on the paper’s automotive blog, Wheels, about the law’s effect on children’s dirt bikes (now forced off the market). On Wednesday, the Times ran an editorial solemnly condemning “book banning”; on inspection, the editorial turned out to praise an ACLU lawsuit against a school district that had removed a library book from the shelves because of its allegedly over-favorable view of Castro’s Cuba. In any wider and more systematic prospect of book banning, the paper has shown no interest.

Whatever the future of new media may hold, ours will be a poorer world if we begin to lose (or “sequester” from children) the millions of books published before our own era. They serve as a path into history, literature, and imagination for kids everywhere. They link the generations by enabling parents to pass on the stories and discoveries in which they delighted as children. Their illustrations open up worlds far removed from what kids are likely to see on the video or TV screen. Could we really be on the verge of losing all of this? And if this is what government protection of our kids means, shouldn’t we be thinking instead about protecting our kids from the government?

Walter Olson is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and has covered CPSIA in depth at his blog, Overlawyered.

………may I suggest that we buy these books and share them with children and grandchildren so that the American Founding will be taught as it was , not as the  anti-liberty revisionists  have portrayed America’s early years.

If we do not preserve these books, generations ahead will not know what kind of people we were before the nation stumbled into public apostasy.

Our Lady of the Americas, pray for us.

N O T E:

Some have pointed out that debunks the “book banning” scare.   In this case Snopes  offers  insufficient analysis.  Please read the following snips from the American Library Association and the website of an attorney who has advised on this bill :

From American Library Association:

* * snip * *

However, the advisory opinion from the CPSC says that not only must the testing be done by one of their certified labs but that this legislation also is retroactive, and every book must be tested. This situation will become even more complicated because the CPSC has not certified any labs to administer the lead testing.
In an effort to solve this problem, ALA has been in discussion with attorneys, other associations and the sponsors of the original bill.  One of those groups, the AAP, has received a response to a letter from the Consumer Product Safety Commission that does not fully satisfy our concern. Our analysis is that neither the law nor the legislative history indicates any Congressional intention to include books and even textbooks in the law. ( they hope!)

The ALA Washington Office has submitted a letter to Congress informing them that,

“The publishing community has supplied the Commission with evidentiary support (can be viewed at that books and other non-book, paper-based printed materials should not be subject to the lead, phthalate, and applicable ASTM standards that are referenced in CPSIA because they do not present any of the health or safety risks to children that the law intended to address. But the General Counsel rejected the Publisher’s request to be excluded.
If the CPSIA is applied to books and paper-based materials, as indicated by the Commission’s General Counsel, public, school and museum libraries will have to either remove all their books or ban all children under 12 from visiting. This cannot be what the Congress intended…. They should enforce this important legislation where the dangers are, not with books, which are not playthings, and should remain unregulated.”
(if the ALA writes this ” cannot be what Congress intended,” then we know the ALA is very concerned.)
* * snip * *

First, a bit of background. In a February 4 post, “The Blame Game“, Rick Woldenberg has laid out the “noose-like” tightness with which the drafters of the CPSIA sought to prevent the CPSC from granting exemptions from the standards; they also provided that liability under the law would not be suspended just because a request for exemption was under consideration. In short, the CPSIA is purposely drafted to place many advantages in the hands of consumer groups or other litigants who might wish to challenge an exemption in court. Since the CPSC cannot be sure of having the last word — its attempt to carve out an exemption for pre-Feb. 10 phthalate inventories was just struck down — it would be incautious for producers or retailers to rely overmuch on its policy pronouncements, especially since, while it obviously has some discretion over its own enforcement efforts, it cannot prevent others (like state attorneys general) from bringing their own actions. One of those state AGs, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, just issued a press release crowing over the consumer groups’ phthalate victory and warning retailers, thrift stores presumably included, that “My office will take whatever steps are necessary [emphasis added] to ensure this phthalate ban is enforced.” (Note that while the phthalate ban was often argued for on the basis of the “precautionary principle” — even if no actual harm to humans has been proved, shouldn’t we alter the formulas for making the items to be safe rather than sorry? — Blumenthal & co. now seek to redefine millions of existing playthings in American homes as “toxic toys”.) It should be noted that private activist and lawyer groups often shop potential cases to state AGs’ offices, and in turn are made monetary beneficiaries of resulting fines and settlements (more on California’s CEH here).

Finally, “ordinary” children’s books (it is not clear whether books with staples qualify) will be presumptively lawful if published since 1985.

Published since when?

That’s right, since 1985. It seems before that year some books were printed with lead-containing inks. None of the discussion I’ve seen of the issue seems to report that any American child has ever been injured by eating the ink in books. But the implication is pretty clear for books published before 1985: unless you’d care to put them through testing, title by title and edition by edition, it’s now legally safer to throw ‘em out. One might propose vast bonfires in public squares, if not for the fear of violating air quality regulations.

Abortion and Bishops

NOTE: SUMMER READING at Inside Catholic

BISHOPS Probed by US Gov.

In January 2008 the Richmond Virginia chapter of Catholic Charities
arranged for and transported a 15 year-old to an abortion facility.
(See Washington Times story below).

Some of you know have already written to me about Catholic Charities.
In the past I've written about Catholic Charities and the(deservedly!)
much criticized Campaign for Human Development. This one abortion is
likely to be one of many--it's simply that THIS is the one
that was discovered.

Catholics are called to be "good stewards."
 Increasingly, donations made to Catholic Charities and CHD
as well as other national charitable organizations are questionable
at best. Many of you are alumni of Catholic colleges whose
Catholicity is a memory only. Perhaps it is time that we
Catholics reconsider donations made
to such institutions.
Please consider sending a portion of your tithe monies and
donations to those groups (charitable, educational)that heroically
maintain a true CATHOLIC identity.

Some good choices are Women for Faith and Family (WFF),
Catholic Answers and Women's New Life Center.   WFF is laudable
for its fidelity.WFF publishes  Voices
And, I know you'll find that their website is a fantastic source of
information and inspiration. 

Catholic Answers is known to most Catholics. It is the
premier apologetics apostolate. Their straightforward and
tightly presented defense of the most difficult of doctrinal
teachings has helped many a convert and re-verts.  

Women's New Life Center struggles to offer services to women
in hurricane stricken New Orleans.  I've  had the pleasure of sharing
the podium with Susan Mire, the foundress of the Center.
She is a delightful young woman with a mission and that
gentle Southern manner.

AND, for Karen's groupies, the Women's New Life Center will host the
FIRST ANNUAL FAIS DO-DO this fall (That's a Cajun hoedown, folks!)
honoring the Jesuit Pro-Life Club.(For fun, check out my review
on A Cajun Christmas )

We want to keep in mind, too, that our local parishs or diocese may
have its  own worthy apostolate that needs your help.  

At every conference I am asked,
"What can I do? I'm just one person?" 

All of us make an enormous contribution to reconverting
the culture when we support truly Catholic endeavors. 

Keep the faith! 

Virginia law eyed in girl's abortionBishops alerted to U.S. probe

Washington Times

Reaping what was not sown

A nation that does not plant wheat does not have bread.

Such a nation must import either the wheat or the bread. Easy enough concept to grasp. The same applies in human resources.

NO babies, no workers. (Leaving aside the biblical imperative) Yet nations insist that prosperity comes from limiting human resources.

Spain (and the rest of Europe) faces a severe labor shortage.

“The percentage of foreign workers, who generate nearly half of the Spanish GDP growth, will grow from the current 20-25% to 35% of the Spanish workforce in 2010.” New reports put the number of foreign workers needed at 150,000 per year for Spain alone. Without the imported labor, the Spanish economy is threatened. Most of the imported labor is not Christian. Most are Islamic. Thus, the economy of Iberia may be saved for a the next generation, but not for Spaniards or their culture.

How did Spain find itself in such dire need of workers? Simple: Abortion and Contraception.

I’m amused when people tell me that God does not punish people for specific sins in specific ways. Every speech I deliver brings out a few well meaning souls who are too sophisticated to believe that certain behaviors are “punished” by God in some direct manner.

Okay. I see the exact meaning of their objection–but I maintain that the sin that is chosen carries within it the consequence (the “punishment”) that soon afflicts the sinner/ nation.

When the post modern Western world decided that personal material prosperity meant smaller families, or when individuals sought unlimited libidinal license minus children, they had no concept ( literally !) that their behaviors sowed seeds of national and cultural and familial death for the coming generation.

After all, it is called a generation for a reason–it must be generated.

The Death of the West can still be averted, but soon enough the mathematical point of no return will be upon us.

Population control as a personal or political policy is a death wish.


See a related post “Keen Assessment” at Feminine Genius

See Jennifer Roback Morse on Love and Economics

A Lifesite report on this topic here

Obama On the Mount: Marriage Obama Style

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead, expose them.

——–Eph.5 :11


News update:

( – Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) told a crowd at Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio, Sunday that he believes the Sermon on the Mount justifies his support for legal recognition of same-sex unions. He also told the crowd that his position in favor of legalized abortion does not make him “less Christian.”

“I don’t think it [a same-sex union] should be called marriage, but I think that it is a legal right that they should have that is recognized by the state,” said Obama. “If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans.” ((Hear audio from WTAP-TV)) St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans condemns homosexual acts as unnatural and sinful.

Pray for me, please. I am preparing for a series of TV tapings, one for a Florida channel that will air Easter weekend. The topic is “Why Florida Needs a Marriage Amendment.”

Organizers in Florida gathered the requisite signatures to get the Marriage initiative on the ballot for November. Now, Floridians must be persuaded to pull the lever for Marriage as the “legal union of one man and one woman.” Who would have believed this 15 years ago? Soon we’ll need an amendment to define day as the hours when the sun is up and there is natural light.

This is a preemptive strike against future presidents whose idea of marriage is “fluid.” Barack Obama is in the fluid camp.

ON February 28th Obama sent a 700 plus word letter to the gay lobby with his pledge to use the “bully pulpit” to shove states into passing same-sex union bills. His tone is self-congratulatory–a “see how much I have done for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community,” tone.

Obama has underscored his desire to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law permitting states to refuse recognition of, say, Massachusetttes’ law on same-sex “marriages.” DOMA also insulates marriage at the federal level–throwing the question of same-sex unions back to the states. For this reason, the homosexual lobby has made the repeal of DOMA their top priority–thus, it is no wonder Obama pandered to the gay lobby by promising to work for the repeal of DOMA. (For the record, so has Hillary.) Obama declared DOMA to be discriminatory.

To this point, 40 states have some form of legal defense against same-sex “marriage,” and 27 states have gone to the trouble to pass amendments for their state constitutions to forestall the homosexual lobby. If DOMA is repealed, American taxpayers will be forced to fund the homosexual lobby’s version of “marriage.”

king-and-king.jpgBut that is not all. During a Democratic debate in September Obama admitted he favors reading the homosexual story, King and King to second graders. The book is a primer for “gay marriage.” One review gushes “this is a chance to see the Cinderella story in a new light.” Nope–a new darkness.

Another reviewer, “This is a charming book that introduces children to the possibility that little kings can do whatever they please – and there’s certainly no need to please Mother! Love rears its head in many unusual places, and it’s about time an alternative gets some attention. Why does a prince always have to settle down with a princess? We always love it when a price falls for a peasant girl instead, so why not a peasant boy (or another prince)?

Few Americans realize that there is a mini-boom in homosexual children’s literature. It is frightening to know that your Pre-K child may be read One Dad, Two Dads, Blue Dad , Brown Dad –a book revered by “LBGT families.”

Reality check: Many Americans have family members or colleagues who are homosexual. We do not want them harmed by thoughtless uncharitable attitudes. In no case can we discriminate against a homosexual person’s fundamental rights. Many work hard to be a whole person–not someone defined by sexual proclivity.

It is also the case that there is no “right” to redefine basic human truths.

The truth is marriage predates society and governments. Government lacks the power to re-order marriage. A society might try to redefine marriage, but it may as well redefine sunrise and sunset–but the sun will still rise bringing light, even if government defines that as “dark.”

The truth is that marriage benefits the whole of society. Therefore a wise society and an effective government … MORE (human genome, polygamy)

Mary Jo Anderson ©Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved

Why Be Scared?


Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead, expose them.

——–Eph.5 :11


Welcome one and all!

The title for this blog is taken from letter written by Catholic author Flannery O’Connor near the end of her life, “Be properly scared, go on doing what you are doing, but take the necessary precautions.”

It seems to me that this is the right balance for Christians in our era–go on doing what you are doing, don’t dissolve in panic …but take the necessary precautions.

Precautions include being responsibly informed and battle ready for the culture war. The general idea here will be to play the observant child to the naked emperor. Help me explore the illogic of those cultural blips that are based on fuzzy logic or wishful thinking, not on objective reality, and often in utter disregard for truth.

Catholics–all Christians –ought to seek truth. We are people who understand that truth is ultimately the greatest charity, the greatest mercy. Be Properly Scared  will examine those cultural and political policies that reflect an errant culture’s emotive wish rather than an objective respect for human nature and the given order. A reasoned rant, if you will.

I’ve just read a paper by a favorite philosopher. His article is based on a Chesterton conversation. The Chesterton phrase that made me smile was, “An abominable darkness of brain,” and I’d use that as a tagline if there was a way to add it to this template. How apt. Our era slides deeper toward the darkness–a darkness of mind and spirit–that we call the Culture War. Our goal is to shine a light on that “abominable darkness of brain.”

As for the banner across the top of the blog, a setting sun, it is a visual representation of the finite nature of time. Today is the day to do something.


My most recent article, on Obama, is here

More info about this blog is here





Mary Jo Anderson © Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved

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