Sir: A recent visit to the “public library,” as this demonic institution described itself, proved eye-opening in more than one respect: first, in that I was literally compelled to open my eyes in order to navigate the unfamiliar space (one of the many reasons why I instinctively dislike most of the locations that exist on the wrong side of my front door); and second, in that I was exposed (owing to that unfortunate opening of the eyes aforementioned) to a shocking level of depravity beyond what I had even imagined to exist in the outside world. In this so-called “library” I saw displayed the most appalling variety of books, apparently made available to all comers, without regard to age. We suppose that our children are passing their time innocently slashing their neighbors’ tires or planting explosives under bridges, when in reality they are flocking to these libraries, which derive their very name from the dangerous books contained therein, where no one stops them from perusing the history of the Persian Empire or teaching themselves the principles of Palladian architecture, long before their little minds are ready to absorb such complex information.
Nor are these libraries the only culprits in the dissemination of dangerous information to our young people. Let every library be closed, and there would still be bookstores, where (again the very name tells the tale) books are sold indiscriminately to anyone with a few misappropriated dollars to spend. Even the very Internet, which we mistakenly believed to be a safe refuge from information, abounds with complete texts of books that have been passed from one miscreant to the next for hundreds of years.
Yet as culpable as the peddlers of “literature” may be, surely the most appallingly guilty culprits are the so-called “public schools,” which lure children, often by the most nauseatingly coercive methods, into dens of indoctrination, where they are actually taught to extract the information that has been carefully encoded in books for no other purpose, as far as I can see, than to keep it safely out of their hands.
I can see only one way of saving our children from becoming prey to this relentless onslaught of information they are too young to handle. I call on our newly elected Congress to establish a federal minimum reading age of twenty-one years.
It may be argued that this is a matter for the individual states to decide; but, as with the drinking age, ways can be found, when the matter is of such obvious importance, to circumvent pedantic constitutional questions. Use the federal budget as a weapon. Let it be known that any state refusing to pass a law raising the minimum reading age to twenty-one will receive no more printed copies of the Congressional Record, and the states will fall in line soon enough.
Until then, I call on all parents to exercise vigilance. It is true that the federal government bears the primary responsibility for the care of our young people, but, when the government has clearly been negligent of its duties, it may occasionally become necessary for parents to step in and make up what is lacking in the rearing of their children. If you see your child with a book, take appropriate steps now, before the problem grows beyond all control. Set him down in front of the television, or buy him a pack of cigarettes to occupy his time. Until the government takes the needed action, we must all be on the alert, or this wicked tide of literature will engulf all our children.
William “Bubba” Shakespeare,