The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion We will stop at nothing to protect the children

Police crime scene tape at the entrance to Covenant School in Nashville on Monday. (John Amis/AP)
3 min

I can think of nothing worse than children — in school, sitting at their desks, reading banned books. A horrible thought, all those children solemnly holding books in their hands and reading them and putting the thoughts in those books into their minds. Learning the wrong lessons and growing up — the wrong way. Growing all the way up. Getting to grow up and think thoughts about those improper things they read in unsanctioned books, their whole lives, maybe. Horrible. I can think of nothing worse. Children who get to be 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and beyond — children who get to grow and have children of their own, and call their mothers or forget to call them, children who get to see the places they always wanted to see and children who get to be the best aunts in the world, but one afternoon in 2023 they read a book I didn’t approve of. I can’t imagine anything more horrible. Something must be done. To protect the children, we must stop at nothing.

I can think of nothing worse than children seeing art that is improper. Statues, paintings, vile, vile, horrible. Children passing pictures from hand to hand, looking at them, getting ideas about art. All those living children looking at those inappropriate statues! Horrible. Imagine them all leaving the classroom safely and growing up and maybe becoming artists themselves, and not thinking that what they saw was unspeakably obscene. Growing up and having barbecues and throwing surprise birthdays and cooking the best steak you ever ate and burning simple pasta in an inexplicable way and getting into fights on the internet and living to be 90 years old and — all the while, having seen that improper art. I can’t imagine a worse fate. We must act now!

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I can’t think of anything worse than children reading history and feeling bad. Imagine, children, going home alive to their parents and complaining that they were made to feel bad by reading about the horrible events of the past. Can you think of a worse thing? Imagine that happening to a child. Imagine being a parent, and seeing the door open, and your child come through it, unharmed, with a complaint about a textbook. Unthinkable. Awful. Frightening. We must pass legislation.

I can’t think of anything worse than children going to a library to hear a drag queen read a story. Children sitting there alive in a library, hearing a story, surrounded by books and glitter, laughing. Children having a pleasant time, feeling as though there was nothing to be afraid of and going home happy. Can you think of anything worse? No, no. We must stop this at once. There must be laws. We must take action. We must protect the children from this awful fate.

Can you think of something worse? Are you thinking of something worse? Don’t worry: I will not think of it. I will not legislate about it. I will not give it a moment’s concern. To protect the children, I will stop at nothing. At absolutely nothing.