Using books as political tools

KANDY MUSE, the stage name of Kevin Candelario (Wikipedia).

This is was has historically been called – in journalistic circles – “the silly season.”

Summer means vacations and such for many people, but especially for government entities which generate most of the news stories, so newspapers, TV stations, etc. have to cover stories that otherwise would be ignored, in order to keep the ads and commercials from banging into each other.

I can remember in my days with the old Huntington Beach Independent and Orange County Evening News in which we did articles about a tree-climbing dog and a proposal to create an elephant-themed museum in Westminster.

But there’s “silly” as in inconsequential and “silly” as in “scary silly,” which brings us to the story of “The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish.”

As reported in the Anaheim paper, there’s a picture book riffing on the kids’ field trip standard “The Wheels on the Bus.” It’s a comparison volume to “If You’re A Drag Queen and You Know It” (a la “If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands”) by Lil Miss Hot Mess.

Huntington Beach City Councilmember Gracey Van Der Mark – before she was on the council – asked to have certain books removed from the Huntington Beach library collections, mostly on matters on sexual content. That was back in 2020.

Rebuffed by the library folks, the matter of controversial books came up at a recent city council meeting, sparking a long and angry public outrage. That’s not because there are many drag queen fans in the community, it’s because of the direction such censorship could eventually take.


As reported, other patrons have challenged “The Hips” epic. Most people with a fraction of a sense of humor would regard “Hips on the Drag Queen” with a giggle. It’s a deliberately silly book about an aspect of the entertainment world which has only become an issue because of politically ambitious folks trying to get attention have made it so.

On the other hand, I’m at a loss to figure out who would actually order such a tome for a library. Was it some kind of in-joke to see if upper management would step in and say, “Very funny. Now, knock it off and get back to work.”

You don’t have to be a book-burner to find “Hips” a bit much for a children’s book collection. What’s next? Dogs and cats living together? Sort of silly.

But what’s more worrisome is the idea of self-appointed censors trying to take control of the library collection, even to a small degree. What’s next? “Huckleberry Finn?” “1984?” “Fahrenheit 451”? “Charlotte’s Web”? 

Censorship tied to politics. That’s scary silly.

1 reply »

  1. Mayor Pro Tem Van der Mark’s library item didn’t call for banning books, never did, that was a propaganda point from HB’s local version of “Big Library”. They were successful raising a mob of 100 that dutifully repeated the “book ban” lie to scare the public and also successful showcasing their zombie-like ignorance. Like women who refuse to see a sonogram of their baby before an abortion Ms Van der Mark’s opponents refuse to look at the actual pictures from the books in question…if they did they’d be forced to change their minds and in America 2023 that seems to be the worst hell they can imagine.

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