‘Arthur’ Narrowly Escapes Unharmed from Florida’s War on Reading
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has made it his mission to prevent kids in the Sunshine State from being exposed to original points-of-view through his “curriculum transparency” law passed last year, which subjects every book that enters a public school to rigorous vetting in order to prevent students from being exposed to subject matter deemed objectionable by the state’s conservative base. This controversial legislation led to a mass removal of books from library shelves as any piece of literature related to race, gender, sexuality, history, politics, people, places or things has been thrown on the proverbial bonfire by the zealous parents and teachers emboldened by DeSantis to ban any book that remotely challenges their “original point of view.”
At the Clay County School District in North Florida, one such book to earn a temporary ban was Arthur’s Birthday after a conservative activist argued that a lone reference to the party game “spin the bottle” made the book wholly inappropriate for children younger than 12 years of age. However, upon review, the school district reversed the ban, putting the adored aardvark back in the library. It’s like these educators don’t even care that Arthur is teaching preteens about the existence of kissing.
“IT IS NOT APPROPRIATE TO DISCUSS ‘SPIN THE BOTTLE’ WITH ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN,” Florida activist Bruce Friedman wrote in the official “book challenge form” offered by the state to any soldier in their war against literacy. “THIS BOOK IS FOUND IN ALL/ALMOST ALL (DISTRICT SCHOOLS)!”
Friedman argued that Arthur’s Birthday is obscene reading for children “K-5,” claiming that exposure to such smut as “spin the bottle” will lead to “DAMAGED SOULS” — thank god Arthur never played “seven minutes in heaven,” or the children of Florida would practically find themselves in a Hellraiser movie.
It’s interesting how, just earlier this year, DeSantis also signed into law a six-week abortion ban, effectively ending access to the medical procedure, a move that was widely celebrated by the state’s conservative base. Basically, some Republicans in Florida believe that 11-year-olds are too young for Arthur but old enough to give birth.