A fundamentalist text published in 1994 that claims to be a parenting book — and actively encourages child abuse — is something you can easily buy on Amazon. The book in question, To Train Up a Child, doles out such horrific parenting advice as beating children and whipping young infants with blankets all under the guise of teaching “discipline.” And now, some parents have had enough.
Over the weekend, best-selling author (and parent) Catherynne Valente drew attention to a petition to ban To Raise Up a Child from being sold on certain websites. Because teachings from the book have been linked to at least three deaths and one murder conviction, it makes sense why parents would be horrified to know it’s so readily available.
This petition has been around for awhile but it can’t hurt to keep trying https://t.co/y0Zb1xv9ef
— Catherynne Valente (@catvalente) September 9, 2019
Some might say that Amazon is a business and it can sell anything it wants, but it’s relevant to note that Valente is a novelist and no stranger to issues of censorship. The difference between free speech and dangerous speech is fairly clear. In a world in which parents are concerned about child safety of certain virtual platforms — like YouTube and Facebook — it seems obvious that many parents would equally concerned about real, tangible books in the world that encourage their peers to beat children with plastic tubes. To put it another way, if Facebook can remove harmful anti-vax propaganda, Amazon can probably get rid of this scary book, right?
When I worked for Barnes and Noble at the tender age of 17 in 1998, we carried one paperback of Mein Kampf — Hitler’s frightening work of Nazi propaganda — in the history section. These days, you can read the book for free on your Kindle. (Let that sink in.) When I was a teenager, I had no interest in reading Mein Kampf, but figured it was someone’s right to buy it if they wanted.
But, now that I’m 38-years-old and a father, I’m not so sure about that. I can never support book burning in any guise, but at the same time, do we really need books that encourage parents to whip their children just a click away?
You can check out the petition at Change.org right here.