• On the “Freedom to Read” Act

    March 22, 2024
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    When I first heard about the “Freedom to Read” Act, Maryland  SB 0738, I was reminded of the words of one of our Founders John Adams : “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right…and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean of the characters and conduct of their rulers.” (A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765 ) So when I heard of the “Freedom to Read” Act I wondered what banned books were suddenly going to be made available to the students of Maryland. I assumed there must be some politically controversial books from the Cold War Era that had been suppressed.

    It was disappointing when I discovered that the books which Maryland students are being encouraged to read are rife with graphic sexual content, ones which most parents deem inappropriate for their children. Last fall, parents in Carroll County questioned why books with graphic sexual imagery were being made available to children without parental knowledge or consent. One is the autobiography of Jaycee Dugard, who was kidnapped and used as a sex-slave in a cellar for years. I have read Dugard’s A Stolen Life: A Memoir; it as a story of heroism but only for mature readers since it is about a kidnapping and child rape. It does not belong in a school.

    An article by Jan Greenhawk  in The Easton Gazette  (Feb. 2, 2024) provides details about the “banned” books which SB 0738 is intended to liberate. To quote:

    These books have pornographic images or descriptions, the likes of which you could find in Penthouse Magazine. The Carroll County Board considered the opinions of parents with children as young as elementary school who complained that these books demonstrating various types of sex such as oral, vaginal, anal, etc. were accessible to students. Some of the books portrayed graphic rape scenes or sexual experimentation in the story lines that were not appropriate for ANY minor child.

    So when Maryland schools are struggling to achieve basic literacy, how is it helpful to have students’ minds filled with images of rape, etc?  Why are the wishes of parents ignored and disrespected?  What is the agenda?

    Jaycee Dugard



    Mary-Eileen Russell

    Mary-Eileen Russell grew up in the countryside outside of Frederick, Maryland, "fair as the garden of the Lord" as the poet Whittier said of it. She graduated in 1984 from Hood College in Frederick with a BA in Psychology, and in 1985 from the State University of New York at Albany with an MA in Modern European History. She is the author of six books under the pen name of "Elena Maria Vidal." She lives in Talbot County, MD with her family.
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