Please Christian Right, you must ban my book. I’m sorry I wrote it as it’s bound to make young people in schools uneasy as it deplores cultural cruelties in America like slavery. If that’s not bad enough, it extols the bravery of former slaves helping other slaves escape to freedom.
Spare them from knowing Harriet Tubman, who was the first African American woman to serve in the military as a scout, spy, guerrilla soldier and nurse for the Union army during our Civil War. Spare them knowing I advocated naming a highway in Florida after her.
I’m really impressed how effectively those of you on the Christian right can pressure town councils and school committees to ban books, especially ones having or championing characters who are people of color. I wish you’d consider banning my book WORDSHINE MAN for praising African Americans and deploring our collective injustices to them.
Yes, I confess my latest book also has chapters championing a black man today serving 20+ years in a Texas prison for a murder that newly emerging evidence is showing he couldn’t have committed as he wasn’t even in Texas when the gun went off during a craps game late one dark night behind a bar and despite even another black guy admitting that he, and not my client Lamar Burks, pulled the trigger.
If banned, my PR firm can raise enough publicity Cain to make my book even more infamously known. Besides Lamar, I write about other heroes of mine with dark pasts like Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. Yes, my book about how to make writing inviting deserves banning for who wants writing to be exciting? Isn’t enticing readers’ interest indecent? Deplorable?
My writing and PR skills were shamefully effective in a PR campaign we did on behalf of another prisoner, this time a white man with a dark past whom I felt should have a second chance.
A second chance! What an infantile idea that people can change, mend their ways, become civil and productive. Forgive me. I don’t know what I’m thinking.
Together with my client and attorney friend Peter Ticktin, I confess we managed to get William Hawley released from a Virginia prison and on his way to a reformed new life becoming a sort of celebrity in Indiana after serving a draconian 18-year sentence for nonviolent offenses.
Today, Bill has a dangerously popular podcast, stars in a TV series on A&E and writes books under the pen name William Steel, including one about billionaire serial killer Robert Durst, which I subtitled “Dursturbed.”
Today, I’m wondering if this dursturbing trend of book banning is a spontaneous, grassroots movement. Or is it a network of advocacy warriors carrying out a deliberate, coordinated religious and political mission of censorship? Or are they banning books from public schools and libraries across the country they just plain don’t like? Whatever! Please ban mine. Make it promotionally infamous! Go ahead and shoot down my book. As Humphrey once told Ingrid in Casablanca, “You’ll be doing me a favor.”
You mighty, relentless bands of censors cleverly share lists of books to target for attack and wisely attend school board meetings in large numbers. You cleverly yell at teachers and librarians for “grooming” students and pushing pornography, LGBTQ+ and worst of all, racism. You even file criminal complaints against school officials, teachers, and librarians. How brilliant!
Yes, you have been remarkably successful in dictating what books kids can access, regardless of parents’ views. PEN America, which has been tracking this, reportedly found that from July 2021 to June 2022, you managed to ban 2,532 books involving 1,648 book titles, but you totally ignored the worst sinner, my WORDSHINE MAN, that starts with a black guy reciting a poem. Now how racist can you get? Once blacks polished shoes in railroad stations, now words need polish, hence the Wordshine Man cometh out with this poem:
You want words to tell her you love her?
But not so many that’ll smother?
Here’s what I advise you, brother:
Go see the Wordshine Man.
Once scuffed, dirty shoes needed polish.
Nowadays it’s words won’t shine.
So, I tell you, bro, consult a word pro.
Go see the Wordshine Man.
A magician with words is he.
Reels ’em out with glee, not free.
You slap some grease in his hand,
and he’s yours, the Wordshine Man.
Prose, he comes up with will scintillate.
She’ll know you’re her number-one fan.
Never too late for love to percolate.
Go see the Wordshine Man.
He prefers present tense, puts wordy behind a fence.
Keeps it nice and tight, tells verbose: “Take a hike!”
Nothing too flowery, not on his salary.
Got a message to deliver? He’ll rev his motorbike.
He’s the Wordshine Man!
People who ban or censor may see poetry as queer, not heterosexual so it should be banned in schools and libraries. Book bans were in 138 school districts in 32 states, representing 5,049 schools and Texas led the pack with about 800 bans, followed by (surprise, surprise!) Florida with 565. So, what are these gallant zealots going after? Books that have:
— LGBTQ+ characters, either as main or secondary figures, or LGBTQ+ themes (41%)
— Characters who are people of color (40%); address issues of race and racism (21%).
— Sexual content, including novels that discuss sexual experiences of teenagers, tell stories about teen pregnancy, sexual assault, and abortion, or have information about puberty, sex, or relationships (22%)
Middle school teacher Elizabeth Peyton wrote an essay about book bans for “Let Grow” — a group that encourages parents, guardians, teachers, and others to raise resilient, resourceful, and independent kids:
Call me a cynic, but I’ve noticed a common thread in most banned books: The heroes are gay. Or Black. Or Latinx. Or really tough girls. Or poor. Or people with disabilities or a mental illness. Or all of those things. Most books about wealthy, white, straight-A students don’t get banned. Nobody’s calling the library to complain about the Hardy Boys.
When he’s not writing articles, blogs and books, Tom Madden is a PR pro head to toe, which is why he’s dipping his toe into the bugaboo of book banning, dreaming of defending his latest book WORDSHINE MAN against those whom he wishes would ban it, so it would hype curiosity and he’d have a sizzling hot news peg for his PR firm TransMedia Group to plow till the cows come home!