Waving Politicians, 'Book Burners' Bothersome Signs Banning Of Books May Hurt County's Image

November 07, 1990|By RUSS MULLALY

There are a couple of situations I have noticed of late in this county and in the rest of the country in general, one sort of amusing, and one disturbing to this writer.

One observation is politicians waving and grinning at traffic, and the other larger, and much more serious: the re-emergence of the "book burners."

By the time you read this, the 1990 election will be over. We will know who is in and who is out. But before we forget about politics for another two years . . . .

We've had a season of political hopefuls standing at busy intersections with their political signs, grinning and waving at passing cars.

I understand they believe it will help them in the area of name recognition when it comes time for people to go to the polls. But does being able to smile and wave at cars tell people their stance on the issues? Some guy in a car will say, "Gee, I like the way that guy looks and waves, I think I'll vote for him in November," right?

For some people though, those are valid criteria for electing people to public office. Just look at the 1980 and 1984 elections, where the American voters elected an actor who read his lines well, looked good and got the part.

But getting back to the wavers, do these people think they can get elected any better by waving at traffic than by knocking on doors and talking to prospective voters to let them know where they stand?

I wonder how many motorists are laughing at them, rather than with them.

I wonder how many people lose respect for these candidates after seeing them this way.

Another thing I noticed is that it seems to be mostly Republicans that feel they need to campaign in this fashion. I know they are outnumbered in voter registration and in offices held in this state, but do they need to resort to these measures?

It seems that when some Republicans are running for office, nowhere on their campaign signs or literature do they state that they are Republicans, at least in this county. In fact, I remember one candidate at my door in the last election that I had to ask twice what party he was with, before he admitted being a Republican.

Finally, no outraged letters, please, saying I am against freedom of speech and that sort of thing. I don't care what candidates do in their campaigning --legally, that is. They can wear clown suits for all I care.

If they want to make fools of themselves, it's a free country. Which leads me to my next burr under the saddle.

I'm getting a little tired of the picture that is being painted of our county more and more lately. It has been all too frequent to hear on the local newscasts, whether on radio or TV, the following: "Coming up next, Howard County parents want book banned."

It seems that nearly every week lately there is some person taking a school library to task because he or she is offended by some book found in it. It is ridiculous, yet scary. I thought this sort of thing went out in the '50s. We seem to be regressing.

Isn't it ironic, what with Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union slowly allowing more and more freedom for their peoples, that we are trying to restrict some of our freedoms?

And this book burning, as I call it, is not happening just in Howard County, but in other areas of the country. I heard on a radio talk show that parts of William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" were censored from a high school English class because someone thought that by leaving the play intact, incest would be encouraged. In another public high school, portions of a biology text that discussed human reproduction were literally cut out of the books, and the index references to it were inked out. The administration felt that promiscuity would be encouraged by leaving these parts in the text.

In our county, all textbooks and library or media center books are subject to committee approval. Do some people think that all these committee members are conspiring to subvert the minds of our youth? Get real! Where will it stop? When we have five books left in the media center, and one of them is a dictionary with certain words inked out?

Why must the loudest and most self-righteous people who, I think, or hope, are in the minority, be allowed to run our schools? And make the county look bad at the hands of the news media while they are at it. Why are they getting so much attention on radio and TV? I'll bet there are those who live in Baltimore or Harford counties who, when seeing these stories on the news, say, "Boy they've got a bunch of goofs in Howard County! They find something wrong with everything -- from Halloween to every other book in the kids' libraries."

We in Howard County would like to be respected for progressive and innovative ideas and laws, not repression and needless overprotection by members of the society who feel that they are superior to others and that their way is the only right way. What ever became of majority rule? Do we want the term "Banned in Howard County" to become a common household phrase?

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