Re: “As book ban efforts spread across country, controversy erupts at King County middle school” [Feb. 4, Education]:

As a high school student in 1972, I chose to defend the retention of Abbie Hoffman’s “Steal This Book” in my school’s library before a public audience. The librarian who asked me to do so had ordered the book at the request of a student for use in a research project. Despite finding the book lacking a reasonable argument, and its instructions on bomb-making appalling, I tried to argue that the book should be retained. It didn’t seem it would be of much interest, other than possibly academic, to my fellow students. It certainly wouldn’t provide any merely carnal interest.

Did Cedar Heights Middle School librarian Gavin Downing order “Jack of Hearts” upon the request of students with an academic interest in the book? If not, it’s difficult to imagine a book that presumably glorifies active sexuality and alcohol and drug use as being suitable for browsing in a middle school library. Daniel Beekman’s article mentions no such request by Cedar Heights students. So this raises another, perhaps more central, question: Is this a dispute about the needs of students, or is it, like so many others these days, really about the needs of adults?

Tom Franklin, Seattle