Tim Conyers: Utah book bans betray our democratic principles

These are not just stories; they are timeless lessons that have guided generations toward a more just and enlightened society.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Kearns Library.

Growing up in the picturesque foothills of Kentucky, books were my escape from the hard work I faced every day. I was fortunate to have a lifeline to the world of literature through a Bookmobile truck that diligently traversed the hollers and hills, delivering an escape for my imagination.

I remember eagerly devouring the adventures of Clive Cussler and the intrigue of Ian Fleming. My mother, ever the advocate for a well-rounded education, also encouraged me to read classics like “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “1984.”

It’s surprising to me that these very classics, which have enriched countless lives and contributed to the depth of our literary heritage, are now on the chopping block. It’s just plain wrong.

The Bookmobile was more than just a vehicle; it was a symbol of hope and aspiration. It represented the belief that knowledge should be accessible to all, regardless of where they lived or their socio-economic background. The shelves of that mobile library held not just books but the promise of a better future, the chance to explore uncharted territories of thought, and the opportunity to challenge one’s preconceived notions. To see that same spirit of inclusivity and intellectual curiosity under threat today is disheartening, to say the least.

When I reflect on the books I read during those formative years, I am reminded of the power of literature to shape our minds and open our hearts. “To Kill a Mockingbird” taught me about empathy and the corrosive effects of prejudice. “1984″ instilled in me a deep appreciation for the value of individual freedom and the dangers of totalitarianism. These are not just stories; they are timeless lessons that have guided generations toward a more just and enlightened society.

The fact that these very books, along with many others, are now subject to bans is a troubling sign of our times. Banning books and limiting access to knowledge undermines the very essence of what makes us a free and enlightened society. It suggests a fear of ideas, a reluctance to confront uncomfortable truths and a desire to control the narrative. Such actions not only betray our democratic principles but also deprive future generations of the wisdom and insights contained within these pages.

In a world where information flows more freely than ever before, it is paradoxical that some seek to restrict access to knowledge. We must protect the sanctity of our libraries, defend the right to read without censorship and reject extremist ideologies that seek to manipulate our educational institutions. Our society’s progress and our children’s future depend on our unwavering commitment to preserving the intellectual freedom and inclusivity that have defined our nation’s spirit for centuries.

It’s time to stand up for our cherished books, libraries, and the ideals they represent, just as they stood up for us in our time of need.

Tim Conyers

Tim Conyers has lived in Utah for 25 years now after moving from Kentucky. He lives in West Valley City with his wife Lori and stepdaughter Aspen, along with their two dogs Winne and Daisy. He loves the outdoors, playing golf, metal detecting or cheering for the Utes.