The board had so many things that it wanted to ban, but the only problem is that it would have to read each book to see if there were any objectionable contents.
Reading would always be tricky, particularly if the book banners were going to find something to be outraged about ahead of the 2023/24 school year.
Mason City Community School District assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction Bridgette Exman said: "Our classroom and school libraries have vast collections, consisting of texts purchased, donated, and found. Reading every book and filtering for these new requirements is simply not feasible."
Enter AI trained to parse suspect texts for banned ideas and descriptions. A "master list" is first cobbled together from "several sources" based on whether there were previous complaints of sexual content. The board did not say where the master list came from, but we suspect it was the usual perfectly ordinary collection of retired generals, pastors, priests, nuns, and, of course, loonies.
We note that The Handmaiden’s Tale, which tells the story of a right-wing Christian utopia where women are second-class citizens for men is on the list. We suspect that if the author had made it a story where everyone was happy, there would have been no problem. Another title is the Colour Purple which is about slavery, which is being banned because some white people in the US find the subject uncomfortable to talk about.
Books from that list are then scanned by "AI software". So far, the AI has flagged 19 books for removal. The list includes
- Killing Mr. Griffinby Lois Duncan
- Soldby Patricia McCormick
- A Court of Mist and Fury(series) by Sarah J. Maas
- Monday's Not Comingby Tiffany D. Jackson
- Tricksby Ellen Hopkins
- Nineteen Minutesby Jodi Picoult
- The Handmaid's Taleby Margaret Atwood
- Belovedby Toni Morrison
- Looking for Alaskaby John Green
- The Kite Runnerby Khaled Hosseini
- Crankby Ellen Hopkins
- Thirteen Reasons Whyby Jay Asher
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indianby Sherman Alexie
- An American Tragedyby Theodore Dreiser
- The Color Purpleby Alice Walker
- Feedby M.T. Anderson
- Friday Night Lightsby Buzz Bissinger
- Gossip Girlby Cecily von Ziegesar
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Singsby Maya Angelou