“Fake news” has been the news for years, thanks to a president who helped empower distrust in people and institutions which have experience, expertise, and history in delivering information. But from “fake news” has been the larger discussion of mis- and disinformation, which themselves have been used to weaponize authority. But what exactly does misinformation or disinformation mean? Let’s break it down.
Misinformation is incorrect or misleading information. Misinformation is not deliberate — you might see a tweet from a reliable source share something that has some of the facts wrong, but the intent behind it is not to do harm. It’s a mistake. An example might be a missing persons story wherein the individual has been reported found and the story is updated to reflect that…even though the individual was not, in fact, found. Misinformation from reliable sources is often retracted or updated to clarify the mistake. Misinformation is harmful, but it is not intended to be so.
Disinformation, on the other hand, is purposefully incorrect or misleading information. The intent behind it is to create confusion or to create an allegiance to a source or a bias or political persuasion. These are lies meant to create profit and power. For example, disinformation is why individuals still believe 45 won the last election (he did not, by any means of measure). Disinformation is why individuals believe there are litter boxes in schools for students “who identify as furries” (completely debunked…and retracted from the dangerous disinformation machine who started it).
There is a third type of information worth including, as it has been particularly relevant in the world of book bans and censorship: malinformation. Malinformation is close enough to reality to feel believable, but it is used as a means of doing active harm on an individual or group. An example of malinformation would be the idea that schools are teaching Critical Race Theory. Schools are not teaching Critical Race Theory, of course, though they have taken up far more inclusive literature and lessons, all grounded in the reality of our world. But that doesn’t create an enemy. Critical Race Theory, though, can: it makes it sound like white kids are going to be made to feel bad about who they are.
Another example of malinformation? The use of “woke” as a rallying cry against educators and librarians. When pressed to define that word, turns out that it’s not the bad thing that right-wing politicians claim it to be:
Keeping these three types of information in mind helps offer yet another layer of context in the ongoing fight for First Amendment rights for all (and not just those with lots of money, power, and desire to create a joyful nationalist war). By unleashing the use of the above three tools of those with weak information literacy — and to a media that is eager for clicks over the investigation to uncover the truth — everyone’s freedoms remain at risk.
If you’re itching to add more knowledge to your own information literacy bank, I cannot recommend highly enough that you read What The Fact?: Finding the Truth in All The Noise by Dr. Seema Yasmin.
Book Censorship News: December 9, 2022
- To be clear, LGBTQ+ books are banned in Russia. This is where “parents rights” advocates want to take the U.S.
- The ACLU has sued Independence School District (Missouri) over the banning of Cats vs. Robots. As a refresher, it was a nonbinary character in a book about cats fighting robots that made book banners mad.
- In Colorado Springs, Colorado, where a bigot just murdered several queer people at a gay bar, Moms For Liberty is gearing up to get a ton of queer books removed from school libraries. Do you see the line yet?
- “The Greenville County Library System Board of Trustees [South Carolina] voted Dec. 5 to relocate sections of books that deal with parenting and early childhood farther away from the children and juvenile areas of library branches.” This is a real opening line to a story, and more, the Board did not take any action on the other 20-some books being challenged in the library.
- Sheila in Cody, Wyoming, is mad that the Cody High School library is keeping If I Was Your Girl on shelf. How dare they explain it is not pornography and not explain her absolutely scientifically incorrect premise of the dangers of gender in it. These are the people wanting to be on school boards, y’all.
- It’s only three dozen parents across the entire state of Utah creating a moral panic of “parental rights” and “explicit pornography” in school libraries.
- Speaking of Utah, here’s the current state of book access in Alpine School District.
- “That may explain why, while other districts are seeing reams of books being challenged, the number of titles challenged in Flagler has remained relatively limited […] There were 42 requests for reconsideration submitted this year. Many of those were duplicates. The number of titles challenged was 22. Six of those titles were “weeded” before the start of the school year.” The books that are listed as “weeded” are curious, aren’t they? Why would Flagler County Schools (Florida) weed popular YA titles?
- Several book banners who are proud of not reading the titles they’re itching to ban were just sworn into the Catawba County School Board (North Carolina).
- I’m paywalled, but two books were removed in Wilson County, Tennessee, schools. Those books are Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts) by L.C. Rosen and Tricks by Ellen Hopkins.
- In League City, Texas’s public library, “[a] vote of 4-3 calls for the end of using tax payer dollars for purchasing, displaying, or stocking of books for minors that feature the following topics: Pedophilia and/or incest, Rape and bondage, Books that discuss or depict any type of sex, nudity, sexual preference, or related topics where the intended audience is below the age of 10.” This is the party of small government, determining down to the books in the library what is and is not okay. Furthermore, this is a blatant erasure of any and all queer books for kids.
- Salem-South Lyon District Library (Michigan) is keeping all 16 books challenged in the public library on shelves.
- This is some really interesting reading on the realities of insurance needs in public libraries right now during this wave of book bans. Of particular interest — and I emphasize I am not a lawyer — is the bit about how if an administrator tells an employee to remove a book from shelves, that employee may have a nice First Amendment lawsuit on their hands.
- The Haters by Mary Cosola will be the next book to hear its fate in Carroll County School District (Iowa).
- At Southwest Valley High School (Iowa), the book Warriors Don’t Cry will not be pulled from English classes.
- Life is Funny by E.R. Frank will be debated on Thursday at Northern Guilford High School (North Carolina). This post will publish before the decision is made, so look for the update next week.
- “When Hollidaysburg Area High School [Pennsylvania] senior Madeline Shanafelt decided to voice her concerns over a proposed policy that would limit teacher expression, she didn’t expect to be greeted by a chorus of hecklers and disgruntled parents.” Adults heckled a high school student who showed up to the school board to defend the book Gender Queer. Every one of these adults should be embarrassed and ashamed of themselves.
- Making a Baby and You Be You were challenged at Marathon County Libraries (Wisconsin) but they will remain on shelves.
- A copy-and-paste job by a parent to complain about Let’s Talk About It being available in Valley City Public Library (North Dakota). I wonder if these fliers created as a disinformation campaign about the book and library are related…
- Here’s a look at Defenders of Democracy, a group working to push back against the Moms For Liberty nonsense and actually protect civil liberties.
- St. Clair R-XIII School District in Missouri just removed The Hate U Give from library shelves.
- 14 books were removed from shelves in Washington County Schools (Utah). The list is included in the article and some of the titles are I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Catch-22.
- “Tensions have been mounting since a book came to light in the library’s collection called ‘Melissa’ by trans author Alex Gino, a story about a middle school-aged trans student fighting to be accepted as a girl. The book is no longer available at the library after a St. Marys parent paid to have the book removed, according to the Reflector.” Okay, so the St. Marys public library will have its lease renewed, which is great. But AN ADULT SIMPLY PAID TO HAVE A BOOK REMOVED FROM SHELVES?
- In Crook County, Oregon, people are insisting that queer books in the public library be labeled because they’re “borderline pornographic.”
- “Nearly 1,000 people have applied to join a Frederick County Public Schools [Maryland] committee that will review whether 35 books should be removed from school libraries, the district said Wednesday.” There is apparently only room for FIFTY-NINE people to be involved in this. Are we not yet tired of the rights of students being put into the hands of completely unqualified, uncertified, non-professionals?
- At least in Windsor, Ontario, the board isn’t having it with adults complaining about books in the school district’s libraries.
- Kalispel Public Schools (Montana) will keep Drama on elementary school library shelves.
- Fox News manufactured a bomb threat against Capistrano Unified School District (California) over a TikTok from a teacher talking about LGBTQ+ books they make available to students. It’s not the books that are dangerous, y’all.
Also In This Story Stream
- An Open Letter to Stephen King: Book Censorship News, January 27, 2023
- Proposed Legislation in Several States to Eliminate LGBTQ+, “Obscene” Books: Book Censorship News, January 20, 2023
- Three Future Targets for Book Censors: Book Censorship News, January 13, 2023
- What Anti-Censorship Groups Are Actively Fighting Book Bans?: Book Censorship News, January 6, 2023
- Set Your Anti-Censorship Resolutions: Book Censorship News, December 30, 2022
- The Very Real Trauma from Book Bans: Book Censorship News, December 23, 2022