...for the editorial to maintain the removal of books previously used in MAS courses is not a ban is semantically untenable. People whose stock-in-trade is words should know better.
"To ban" is " "To prohibit, especially by legal means. . . . To prohibit the use, performance, or distribution of <ban a book>." It doesn't have to be a total and outright ban. Something can be banned from use by an entire school district or by certain teachers. Whether it is a universal ban or a selective ban -- I choose to use the term "discriminatory ban" to make the point clearer and more dramatic -- a ban is a ban is a ban.
Arizona's Superintendent of Public Instruction recently put an end to Mexican American studies classes in Tucson, saying they violated state law. On Wednesday, host Michel Martin heard from Superintendent John Huppenthal. Today Martin speaks with Adelita Grijalva, the sole Tucson School Board member who voted to preserve the program.
Whether the removal of the books from all classrooms should be considered an outright ban or a possibly temporary prohibition brought little comfort to supporters of Tucson’s Mexican-American studies program, who sponsored an emotional community forum last Saturday with students and teachers who had witnessed the forced removal of the books from their classrooms.
“In regards to this double-speak about these books being banned,” said Cholla High School teacher Lorenzo Lopez, “it is irrelevant if these books are banned from the entire district or just from our classes. If our kids can’t have access to that knowledge, and it was urgent that these books be removed immediately from our classes, they are, in effect, banned.”
According to one teacher, the mandated roundup of texts included their own personal libraries in the classroom.
“We were told by our principal that we need to comply with the law and that meant that with the suspension of Mexican-American studies classes we had to remove the listed books from our classrooms immediately,” said Pueblo High School teacher Sally Rusk. “Our own personal copies were not to be on our book shelves either. It seems obvious to us that being made to take certain books out of the classroom — even when used as reference books and not class sets — is censorship. How can not allowing teachers to use these books, even as reference material in a traditional U.S. history course, not be interpreted as banning those books?”