The ABCs of Book Banning (2023) Movie Script

Good afternoon, folks.
Okay, Grace.
I am Grace Linn.
I am 100 years young.
-Just sit right here, ma'am.
- Go ahead.
- Okay, Grace.
- This is the one that we were--
Grace Linn?
I'm here to p-protest
our school's district
book-banning policy.
My husband Robert Nichol
was killed in action
in World War II,
defending our democracy,
Constitution and freedoms.
One of the freedoms
that the Nazis crushed
was the freedom to read
the books they banned.
I read at a ninth-grade level.
I like getting books
from our library,
which we can't do right now.
We really can't find one
that we like,
'cause either we've read it
a million times
or it's just too easy for us.
They're having the, um,
family volunteers come
and, like, take out so that
they can review the books.
The first day, I got so mad
I didn't talk at lunch.
- Remember?
- Yes.
Yes, I remember that vividly.
The first thing I did
is went to
my third grade reading teacher.
-She loved her books.
- Yeah.
- I had to, um,
help take away
a lot of the books.
They've pulled, like,
all the, like,
- a-award-winning books.
- Yeah.
And you can look at a shelf,
and they've left us
with Junie B. Jones,
which, personally,
is a second-grade level book
-for me.
I like mystery
and Black history.
I'm reading a book Stamped
right now,
and I'm really into it 'cause
I read it every single night.
A lot of the Black history
books are being pulled.
Yeah, I don't know if we have
any LGBTQ books in our thing,
but if we did, they would be
taking them away.
Why take away
all these excellent books?
It's like you're trying to
slow down children's reading.
-Why do that?
We want to read above our grade.
I hope that they see this
and are like,
"These are a bunch
of ten-year-olds."
Hello, I'm Justin Richardson.
And I'm Peter Parnell.
And, uh, this is our book.
It's about two penguins
who were gay with each other,
and even though they had
their differences
from the other penguins,
they could still...
...have a child,
take care of it.
They could do what-- they could
do pretty much everything
but lay an egg.
I just don't understand,
it's-- they're still people.
They're still human.
It's not like they turn into
a werewolf once they're...
gay or lesbian or trans.
It's about these two boy
penguins, and they just, like,
they-they decide
that they love each other.
It's, it's like, why would you
get rid of this book
if, like, people can't be
who they are-- want to be?
They think it was weird that,
like, two boys can, like,
love each other,
and they thought
maybe that shouldn't
be able to happen,
so they probably banned it
because of that.
I heard that they're banning
things like LGBTQ.
Lesbian, gay, bi,
transgender, queer.
And, um...
that's something that, um,
a bunch of people
are one of those things,
and they...
So, m-maybe their best friend
is, say, um,
transgender, but they don't
know about that,
so they don't know how
to approach it in the best way,
and say you want
to be transgender,
but you know that it's, um,
it's a, it's a bad thing
where you grow up,
so you're afraid to express
who you really are.
And I've-- and so,
you're hiding, like,
a huge part of yourself.
And it's like the world knows
less than half of you.
So, we are gonna jump
right into our book.
And we're gonna start
with our hips.
The hips on the drag queen go,
"Swish, swish, swish.
Swish, swish, swish.
Swish, swish, swish."
The shoes on the drag queen go,
"Stomp, stomp, stomp"
all through the town.
Everyone deserves
to have these beautiful books,
to read, to learn... cetera.
Like, they teach them
about culture,
um, what they can be, what...
If they want to be
what they want to be,
they should be able to be
what they want to be,
but they can't be without
knowing what it means.
I like, also,
learning about stuff
so I can get smarter
for every time, like...
I need to know stuff
about stuff, like...
I just like being imaginative
and also I like learning.
"Too assertive, too persistent,
"too ambitious, too loud,
"too confident, too ambitious,
"too proud.
"Don't let anyone tell you
who you are.
You tell them who you are."
"Standing tall
like a soaring tower,
"I am valued. I am loved.
I have a purpose,
hope and power."
It's about,
like, celebrating who you are
and, like, celebrating you.
It's, like, it's--
it reminds me of who I am
because I really have, like...
I don't have great
My teacher keeps
saying that, like,
she wants to, like,
open a self-con--
a self-confidence camp for
girls, 'cause she says, like,
with the peop-- group
of people she teaches,
like, fifth graders, girls have
really low self-confidence,
so she-she's always saying
that, and I think that's right.
It's just telling us
to be powerful.
Like, I don't get what
the problem with that is.
Like... I just don't
think it's, like,
telling anybody, like,
to do anything bad.
It's, like, it's just
telling you to, like,
be who you are and be powerful.
If you read this book
and still,
after you read this book--
read it twice,
read it three times--
realized that, "Oh,
this book needs to be banned,"
then something's not
clicking in your brain.
We, the successors
of a country and a time
where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves
and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president,
only to find herself
reciting for one.
And, yes, we are far from
polished, far from pristine,
but this doesn't mean
we are striving
to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge
our union with purpose.
To compose a country
committed to all cultures,
colors and characters of man.
And so we lift our gazes
not to what stands between us
but what stands before us.
My name is Maia Kobabe.
I am the author
of Gender Queer: A Memoir,
which is one of the most
challenged books
in the United States right now.
Gender Queer is
the story of my life
starting at about age two
until I turn around 28.
It focuses specifically
on memories that have to do
with gender, identity,
sexuality, and then coming out
to family, friends, community.
They're saying a lot to people,
whether people...
agree with or disagree with
what I'm saying.
It is making waves,
and I'm not gonna back away
from that.
"Except that this time,
something changed."
"The air was uneasy.
"The parents
in the green house refused
"to welcome the new family.
"There were polite nods
between the adults at first,
"but then even those vanished.
"Other things happened.
"Someone threw raw eggs
at the blue house.
"One afternoon, a car passed by
"filled with angry men
yelling angry things,
things like,
'Muslims, get out.'"
Miep told us some terrible news
"from the real world.
"She saw her Jewish neighbor
"taken away by the Gestapo,
and she could do nothing
to help her."
"It must be terrible
in Westerbork.
"The people get
almost nothing to eat,
"much less to drink,
"as water is only available
only one hour a day,
"and there's only one
lavatory and sink
"for several thousand people.
"We assume that most
of the people
"in the faraway camps
are being murdered.
"The English radio
says they're being gassed.
Perhaps that's
the quickest way to die."
I could have been Anne Frank,
but, I mean, any of us,
if we were born in that time
and we were born Jewish,
could have had the same
experience as her, obviously.
Books that I read
when I was in kindergarten
and books that I've read now
and any book that I've read
across my life, it is--
there is vital information
in each one of them
that is important
to who I am today.
I am who I am today because
of the books that I've read.
The book that I'm reading
is called Maus
by Art Spiegelman,
and it's a book
about Jewish history,
about a man who was
a Jew during World War II,
and he is trying
to escape the Nazis.
And it's a really important,
like, book
about Jewish history written
by the son of the man.
I feel like if you're trying
to ban this book,
you're just banning
Jewish history.
So why would you ever want
to ban Jewish history?
That's like saying,
"Okay, well,
this didn't happen,"
which, eventually, will probably
just lead to the same thing
happening again because
people don't know it even
happened in the first place
because you're just, you're...
you're stealing knowledge.
Why would you want
to steal knowledge?
"'I knew that boy.
Watched him grow with you.'"
"'He was more than any
bad decision he made.'
"'I hate that I let myself fall
into that mindset of trying
"'to rationalize his death.
"'At the end of the day,
"'you don't kill someone
for opening a car door.
"'If you do,
you shouldn't be a cop.'"
He was killed because
something so small,
something so insignificant,
and because of his race,
because of what he looked like,
he was killed.
No. No.
If you were the person
who helped ban this book,
why? Just why?
Like, do you feel like
Rosa Parks is a bad person?
Do you feel like her legacy,
people should not know
about her legacy?
Why do you choose to do this?
I'm just curious.
Like, why?
I'm just wondering,
are there any books
that should be banned?
- No.
- Oh, well, that was easy.
To ban it is to give it
power over you,
and it can't. There's no word
that should have power
over you.
There-- If it's a word,
you can use it.
Everybody may not like it.
Everybody may not want to hear
it, but you can't give words,
you can't give a word
a-- the power.
Words have to be free,
and we are the ones
that have to decide
what to do with the words
we're hearing
and the words we're saying.
Last year,
during the time I was 99,
I have created this quilt... remind all of us
that these few
of so many more books
that are banned or targeted
need to be proudly displayed
and protected.
My husband
was killed in action
in World War II,
defending our democracy,
Constitution and freedoms.
One of the freedoms
that the Nazis crushed
was the freedom to read
the books they banned.
They stopped the free press,
banned and burned books.
The freedom to read,
which is protected
by the First Amendment,
is our essential right
and duty of our democracy.
Even so,
it is continually under attack
by both the public
and private groups.
Banned books and burning books
are the same.
Both are done
for the same reason.
Fear of knowledge.
Fear is not freedom.
Fear is not liberty.
Fear is control.
My husband died
as a father of freedom.
I am a mother of liberty.
Banned books need
to be proudly displayed
and protected
from school boards like this.
Thank you very much.
Thank you.
Thank you.