This has been a banner year for book banning.

CBS News published a brief description of the 50 most banned books this years. Most, as you will see, are about sexuality, gender and race. Parents and activists fear that children will become what they read about. They worry that reading about gay students will turn their children gay. Why would they worry that their children become racist.

This surge in censorship is a testament of sorts to the power of the written word. The peculiar thing about this crusade to ban books is that far more explicit material about sexuality and race is readily available on the internet.

Censorship of books, textbooks, even standardized tests is not new. I wrote a book called The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn. The pressure groups come from the right and the left and from groups claiming to represent the elderly, women, religious folk, and all sorts of others. Every publisher of textbooks and tests has “bias and sensitivity” guidelines, long lists of words, phrases, topics, and images that will never appear in a textbook or on a test. I have a list at the end of the book that includes more than 800 banned items.