The “Book Em Danno” effect By Paul V. Montesino, PhD, MBA, ICCP.

The “Book Em Danno” effect
By Paul V. Montesino, PhD, MBA, ICCP.

Most of us remember it well. The popular Hawaii Five-O series led by actor Jack Lord in his role as police chief Steve McGarrett, consisted of complex crimes, chases and mysteries until the plot finally ended with the famous “Book Em Danno” command from McGarrett to his assistant Danno Williams played by actor James MacArthur. Unfortunately, both died several years ago.

But “Book Em” has taken on a different meaning these days. The Texas Llano County, for example, is considering eliminating the conflict created by opponents of many published books by closing the county public libraries. And we know that many other libraries, schools, and universities in other states in the nation are constantly emptying their shelves of titles opposed by parents of students offended by the book ideas, whether those ideas are fiction or non-fiction. In many cases, those opposed to the books have never read them or have no idea of their pedagogical value. In other words, the term “Book Em”, in many cases, has been replaced by a new term “Nuke Em.” The folks in llano County believe that seeing no evil, hearing no evil or speaking no evil will eliminate all evil.

I am not proposing that parents of minors don’t have parental or legal rights to supervise the ideas fed into the minds of the same minors whose behavior might cause them liability for their children’s misbehavior. Those readers of this column that are familiar with the Operation Peter Pan during the nineteen sixties in Cuban American relations can remember that fourteen thousand minors were sent by their parents to America in order to preserve the parental authority and protect the minds of the children involved.

But closing the libraries or eliminating the books that should be available to their patrons is a violation of our rights to free expression. I remember a funny story that circulated many years ago about a cheated spouse who decided to punish the offending partner by burning and throwing away the scene of the crime, their bed. Chasing books from public view is nothing new. Nazi Germany started by burning the books they disliked and ended burning the Jews and Catholics who read them. That practice is a slippery slope that feeds on itself and has a sad and many times a criminal ending. And speaking of Cuba, the millions of us who were able to escape from that “paradise” have a lot to say about the lack of opportunity not only to express our ideas, but also to choose which ones we find proper from others.

In 1500s Spain, there were many stories published about Errant Knights that became popular but also offended others. It took a man named Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra plenty of patience, courage, and time to write a novel intended to end all Errant Knight stories. His work: The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, one of the greatest works ever written and translated to  more than fifty languages.

I wonder how many treasures similar to this great jewel of literature are invisible because some readers are uncomfortable with it.

And that is my Point of View Today. So long.

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