One major annoyance is the annual whine by the Banned Books Week Coalition. That’s because the books aren’t banned, at least not in America. And included are “challenged” books in the list of supposedly “banned” books.

The Week of Woe also is advanced by the California Libraries Association, although their last website update was two years ago. The week conveniently comes right before the election of legislators, council members and supervisors who later will decide how much green stuff to hand over to library bureaucrats.

The coalition’s website reads, “Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association.”

“Challenges” again, not raiding homes to grab banned books, then holding a Savonarola-style Bonfire of the Vanities in the street.

So some parent gripes that the sleazy ultra-best-seller “50 Shades of Grey” – yes, it’s on the list – shouldn’t be read by her 11-year-old daughter in the public school library, and that’s a banned book?

For their Top 10 list of “banned” books, I checked whether each was available on, and how much each cost used. All are available. The highest price was $10.75. The lowest, for four books, was $0.01 each. Average price: $3.93. You can buy all 10 for $39.30.

But you likely could buy many of these books at even lower prices at local used book stores, thrift shops and, yes, library book sales. It also looks like all these books are available on Amazon Kindle for $10 or less each.

And these are contemporary “banned” books. Almost any book copyrighted 1922 or before, banned or not, if it was even slightly popular likely is available free at such sites as Project Gutenberg.

What we have here is confusion between something actually being banned by the government, and a debate over how to spend tax dollars, specifically on tax-funded libraries. And libraries, even the supposedly most virtuous ones in California, also “ban” books.

For example, many libraries carry “Mein Kampf,” Hitler’s histrionic autobiography. That’s understandable because some patrons might want to make an in depth study of the Third Reich and its crimes. But suppose a local public librarian purchased only pro-Hitler books, blowing the whole budget on them? Wouldn’t taxpayers have a reasonable gripe? Or would that be “censorship”? Obviously, it would be reasonable to say the librarian indeed is mistaken, is a neo-Nazi or at least has an unreasonable obsession with Nazis, and even ought to be fired.

Which brings up another point, what I call “Censorship by taxation.” When government forces me to pay taxes for something, that denies me the use of my money. So if the government takes my money to buy certain books, then I don’t have the money to buy the books I prefer. That’s real censorship.

Likewise with using my tax money to subsidize art, architecture, music and so on. I am a patron of all those things. But when you force my tax money from me to pay for what you like, then you deny me the capacity to pay for, and enjoy, what I like. That’s also censorship.

The obvious solution is to privatize all these things, including libraries. Then there would be no problem with censorship. Fans of the “Grey” books and other such trash could fund them as they wished, with their own money. While I would be free to subsidize copies of books by Mark Twain, Hemingway, Tom Wolfe and others that I like.

There actually are many private libraries, one of the best being the Mechanics’ Institute in San Francisco. “Membership is open to all” for just $95 a year, and $35 for students.

But with so much free on the Internet, even that really isn’t needed to get information.

I have to add that I do patronize local public libraries a couple times a week and consider them one of the few worthwhile uses of my tax dollars. Although my selections of what to drop on the shelves would be different, I enjoy going to them to read. Some books are not available yet on the Internet, or cost too much to purchase instead of check out. The inter-library loan service is useful. And even in this Internet age, I like walking around and discovering new books on the shelves.

But privatization would be even better.

And please, stop the caterwauling about “censorship.” There just isn’t any in modern America.

John Seiler’s website on Orange County news and politics is: the Seiler Report; his email: