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A Step Beyond ‘Banned Books Week’

Just in time and in the right place Banned Books Week is here, and let’s expand its scope to include the trend opposing free speech in America.

Every year the Mendocino Book Company joins a nationwide campaign to list banned or challenged publications. Here in 2020 Ukiah needs a refresher course in Freedom of Speech because growing numbers of local progressives stand firmly in favor of censoring writers for voicing opinions different from their own.

It’s all across the country and it’s all demented leftists. The stifling of American thought and opinion erupts anywhere progressive policies stagnate.

Ukiah, for instance. A Daily Journal writer you may have heard of, or perhaps even read, was the target of a coordinated email campaign demanding his column be banned from the newspaper.

Hi, I’m Tom Hine, and leftwing fascists, hostile to any opinion contrary to their own, worked overtime a few months ago to silence my views. Major proponents were therapists, “community activists,” a few writers, journalists and a poet.

The irony of “Journalists, Writers and Poets for Censorship” is ripe and delicious. They cite hurt feelings, divisiveness and a failure to promote healing within the community to justify a Thought Police crackdown. The bar is now lower than ever.

Freedom of speech is (sometimes) won from long, hard fighting against powerful foes, and to happily surrender that freedom to silence a minor irritant like me is a weak show of spinelessness. If you think getting rid of unpopular opinions means your own will forever be safe has been disproven many times. Even a big-shot poet and a sensitive therapist ought be ashamed to side with oppression, and against free speech.

It’s the stuff of Nazis and Communists. Read your history. Open your eyes.

But it’s not just the joke poets with their faux sentiments nor the helpful therapists who are forever telling other people how to live their lives. In Ukiah it goes deeper.

A large Trump sign was torn down at a west side home. A pal of mine, a Democrat, said as we stood near the courthouse that every time he looks at a Trump sign in a nearby office “I want to throw a rock through the window.”

A retired Mendocino College faculty member collects photos of local homes with Trump signs and posts them on Facebook in hopes citizens with incorrect opinions will be harassed and tormented. It’s both grossly un-American and terribly progressive. Free speech protects everyone. Censorship can target any foe of any regime at any time. Get on the right side of the fight.

Recurring nightmares

I’ve been advised astrology is making a comeback among society’s most credulous and least informed. I’m not surprised. At this point people believing Sagittarius rules your emotions and Afghanistan guides your career is old news.

Astrology last found favor among children of the 1960s, a famously ignorant generation that spent years searching for answers before settling for gurus like Jim Jones, Abbie Hoffman and turban-wearing Maharishis. The Capricorn crowd was also hot for UFOs, telekinesis, poltergeists and other frivolous nonsense

Another musty relic from the ‘60s, dusted off and repackaged for today’s market, is socialism. I guess people love socialism because they enjoy socializing, which is to say being friendly and nice. And it’s probably true that future socialist commissioners won’t outlaw being friendly, although they’ll regulate most everything else.

QUICKIE: Capitalists believe if they get some education, show up on time, work hard and don’t spend their earnings foolishly eventually they’ll drive a Cadillac, own a yacht and retire by age 50. Let’s make hay while the sun shines!

Socialists think they’ll fetch just as much government free stuff sitting in the basement playing video games, writing an occasional poem and drinking Pumpkin-flavored beer as by taking a job as a school crossing guard. So why get all ambitious?

But an upswing in astrologers, socialists, fire-setting street criminals who steal some things and break the rest, suggest dark days. Bell bottoms and pukka shell necklaces may not be the worst of it. It could come to disco music.

Stay tuned. The revolution will surely be televised.

Bad news beers

Everything’s trending negative, even the six-pack in your fridge. A new breed of “beer” beverages is crowding the shelves of a grocery store near you. and not one of these impostor brews is our friend.

We’ve lost old favorites like Schlitz Malt Liquor, Rainier Ale and Lucky Lager, and today the aisles are full of fizzy citrus-based concoctions from the laboratories at Anheuser-Busch. Mango-Strawberry flavored ale, Caramel lager with hints of Raspberry-Mint and other fruity brewjuice from plantations in Hawaii are in and old friends like Falstaff and Colt 45 are out.

The queasiest, scariest of the bunch caught my eye, and nearly my stomach, a few days back at Safeway. Perched on a shelf as if it had every right to stand with Coors, Corona and Pabst Blue Ribbon, was Pumpkin Beer!

And what rough slurried sludge is this, slouching toward the Forest Club soon to be violently abandoned in the men’s room?

(Tom Hine, Ukiah’s most beloved columnist, has been writing under the TWK byline since early days at the Mendocino Grapevine, an “underground” paper.)


  1. essay September 30, 2020

    “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” — Benjamin Franklin

  2. Shirl October 2, 2020

    Reading is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

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