Calderdale, a borough in West Yorkshire, found itself embroiled in controversy over the treatment of gender-critical books, comparing their visibility in a public library to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Here’s the full story.
The Labour-run borough’s library service has recently decided to prevent certain books from being prominently displayed, citing concerns about causing offense or discomfort to the public.
These measures, which critics have described as “cancel culture,” have led to the removal of half a dozen books that discuss issues related to puberty blockers and gender reassignment surgery.
These books include Kathleen Stock’s “Material Girls,” Abigail Shrier’s “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” Helen Joyce’s “Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality,” and Janice Raymond’s “Doublethink: A Feminist Challenge to Transgenderism.”
LGBTQ+ Books Were Removed
Additionally, “Trigger Warning: My Lesbian Feminist Life” by Sheila Jeffreys and “Transgender Body Politics” by Heather Brunskell-Evans were among the titles censored in Calderdale.
It Includes Mein Kampf
Remarkably, this act of censorship extends to Hitler’s manifesto, “Mein Kampf,” written in 1925, before he rose to power as Germany’s Nazi dictator.
This Is Not the First Time
Calderdale Council had taken similar measures in the past, primarily involving “Mein Kampf.”
They had previously moved a copy of the book to storage following complaints from customers several years ago.
Helen Joyce, one of the authors of the gender-critical books, expressed her disappointment with the decision.
She said, “I was disgusted, but not surprised, to discover that the only previous example Calderdale Libraries could give of hiding away a ‘toxic’ book concerned Hitler’s manifesto, Mein Kampf.
Unfairly Singled Out
The controversy has sparked concerns, with the local Women’s Rights Network planning to contest a campaign against these gender-critical titles, perceiving them as unfairly singled out due to their potential to be found offensive.
A Divided Stance
A divided stance within the library staff triggered the dispute over censorship. An internal HR grievance was lodged in January, raising concerns about the display of gender-critical books.
Subsequently, a complaint by staff members intensified the pressure on the council to reinstate the literature.
Cause Offense to Some People
The outcry led Calderdale Council to review its policies, and they recognized the need to balance concerns against the concept of “acute vulnerability.”
Ian Day, the council’s director for public service, acknowledged that the censored books might “cause offense to some people.”
Freedom of Expression
However, he argued that these titles did not meet the threshold required to interfere with legal rights such as freedom of expression.
He recommended reinstating the books, albeit with the condition that they not be promoted or featured prominently.
“Fascists Burned Books in Germany”
Several social media users expressed their thoughts on the incident.
One Twitter user wrote, “Fascists Burned books in Germany. Is this the modern trend we are witnessing denial of truth and free expression, is this the ultimate aim of left-wing politics in their distorted push for diversity and control? And the dilution of Nation States.”
Echo Chambers of Ideology
Another user added, “Truly sad! Public libraries should serve as platforms for intellectual exploration, not echo chambers of a particular ideology.”
The Space Problem
A third user commented, “Libraries and bookshops have limited space so will promote books that people want to read and that aren’t offensive to a large group of people.”
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