Moms for Liberty — Against freedom for the rest of us?

On May 17th, PEN America, Penguin Random House Publishing Company, and a group of concerned authors, parents, and students filed a suit in the U.S. District Court Northern District of Florida, alleging that book bans in the Escambia County public schools are unconstitutional.

PEN America, part of PEN International, is made up of writers, editors, publishers, translators, agents, and other writing professionals. Both organizations publicize the plight of journalists, writers, and others who are maimed, imprisoned, tortured, or murdered—simply for their words that some find threatening and offensive.

PEN America asserts that the Escambia School District, prodded by Moms for Liberty, is restricting First Amendment Rights — every American’s guarantee of free expression. Liberty is “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions.” Our Pledge of Allegiance ends with “…liberty and justice for all.”  It’s one thing to dislike a book because of its sexual or racial content and another to prohibit the rest of us from reading it.

Gov.  Ron DeSantis, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, doesn’t want young people to read about issues that make them feel bad. If books don’t teach people inconvenient truths and make them hunger for change, they’re not reading the right ones. To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn sensitize us to racism and document our painful past. Understanding how America hastreated (and continues to do so) African Americans, Japanese Americans, and Indigenous people illustrates our past faults and the path to what our future should be.

People who believe Mausand The Bluest Eye are pornographic can’t know what’s on the internet. Hardcore videos of explicit sex acts are a few clicks away. Dig deeper and watch graphic depictions of fetishistic behavior involving violence, barnyard animals, and underage children. Don’t think parental blocks are the answer; computer-savvy children can override them.

The best place for a young person to encounter a controversial book is in school, where teachers and librarians can answer questions and provide context—something not every parent can do. Those who believe a book should be banned should get a copy and read it. Don’t rely on the opinion of someone who may have never read it.

If Moms for Liberty were true to their name, they would fight against sex trafficking, domestic violence, conspiracy theorists, and purveyors of disinformation. They would lobby for sensible pandemic restrictions and ways to encourage humane border crossings. Instead of fighting PEN America, they would join and provide support and comfort to parents of incarcerated journalists and writers. How many members of Moms for Liberty would fuss over Huckleberry Finn or To Kill a Mockingbird if their son or daughter was incarcerated in a foreign prison, possibly subjected to torture, for something they had written?

We are proud members of PEN America and support their mission. With their worldwide support for liberty and freedom, it’s shameful and embarrassing they must come to Florida to protect First Amendment Rights.

Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller of Tallahassee, Florida, is a retired biologist who volunteers in prisons, restores antique windows, and writes.

Kathryn Lord

Kathryn Lord, of Tallahassee, Florida, is a former psychotherapist and romance coach who now writes and fosters kittens. You can get in touch with them at, and


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