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Tom Durkin: Cancel the culture

By Tom Durkin | Columnist

Want to get a kid to read a book?

Ban the book.

Any parent knows, if you forbid something, most kids will make it a mission in life to find out what you don’t want them to know. Or do something you don’t want them to do.

My sister was caught reading Mark Twain’s “Letters from Earth,” because it had been banned by the high school library. (We had the book at home.)

The high school authorities notified our parents about her inappropriate reading material. Our parents were thrilled she was reading books, especially Mark Twain, and told the school to stop interfering with her education.

My friends and I were careful not to get caught reading “Candy,” a notorious pornographic novel of the time. Even the public library didn’t carry that banned book, but somebody’s over-21 brother had acquired the lurid tome in Kansas City, Missouri (where people could actually drink alcohol in bars!).

In 1964, “Candy” was a hot property at Salina High School in the middle of Bible Belt Kansas. Got more sex education from that book than we did in school. Well, that and “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” (my dad’s idea of sex education).

The point is banning books, or critical race theory for that matter, only intrigues curious, young minds.


Cancel culture is … what? As near I can tell, it’s the attempt to silence or suppress anybody or anything you don’t like.

People are saying Joe Rogan should be abolished from Spotify for racial slurs and allowing guests to spread ignorant misinformation or deliberate disinformation about vaccines and COVID-19. That’s cancel culture. Right?

Then what is it when the Republican National Committee calls the Jan. 6 insurrection “legitimate political discourse”? Is that an attempt to cancel the facts of Jan. 6? A dog whistle of endorsement?

(Yes, the RNC has tried to walk it back, but that toothpaste is not going back in the tube.)

Maybe it’s the Newspeak George Rebane so recently warned us about. If so, “legitimate political discourse” must be Newspeak for “seditious political violence.”


Three pro-recall, anti-mask, flag-waving, so-called “patriots” were served with temporary restraining orders (TROs) for workplace violence after they forced their way into the Nevada County Elections Office Jan. 20.

I wonder what Newspeak euphemism the cancel culture calls that amateur attempt at uncivil protest?

There is no such thing as a bulletproof restraining over. Sometimes, violence-prone people tend to get even more violent when served with a TRO. Too many people have been shot.

That’s why every TRO comes with the legal obligation that any persons served with a restraining order must give up possession of their firearms for the duration of the order. They must provide the court with written proof within 48 hours that the weapons have been “turned in, sold, or stored.”

Item No. 8 on every TRO reads: “You cannot own, possess, have, buy or try to buy, receive or try to receive, or in any other way get guns, other firearms, or ammunition.”

“Cannot” have guns. Period. I guess the no-ammunition thing is so they cannot spit bullets.

A TRO is a civil court order, and it will remain a civil matter if the respondents don’t violate the order. Any violation of a TRO is a criminal offense that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.

I wonder if these citizens surrendered possession of their weapons as required by law? I wonder if the court or Sheriff’s Office enforced the gun restriction?

The respondents get their day in Nevada County Superior Court Feb. 22. At that hearing, the judge can either dismiss the TROs or issue “permanent” restraining orders for up to three years.


In Germany, children are required by law to be taught about the Holocaust, the most horrific era in German history. This is not to make German children to feel bad about themselves. It’s to teach them not to repeat history.

On the other hand, in Poland, it’s actually illegal to teach about the shameful Polish complicity with the Nazis. Cancel culture in action.

Here in America, laws are already in effect and more are being proposed to cancel our racist, genocidal history in general and critical race theory in particular.

From Arkansas to Arizona, cancel culture is banning books in libraries and schools, like “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “A People’s History of the United States.”

This, of course, is a good way to get kids to read the books.

Tom Durkin is a freelance writer, editor and photographer in Nevada County and a member of The Union Editorial Board. He may be contacted at tjdurkin3@gmail.com


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