Tony Diaz, aka Librotraficante, argues why it is necessary to stand up for banned books on Banned Books Week.(Photo/ courtesy of Liana Lopez)

Opinion: Fighting the ‘Intellectual Border Patrol,’ on Banned Books Week

Believe it or not, I sometimes still have to argue with people who claim there that there is not a book ban in Tucson, Arizona. 

These folks are the Intellectual Border Patrol. They deputize themselves, especially during Banned Books Week.

There are still a lot of them.

Of course, this is still America. And despite the fact that the Intellectual Border Patrol likes to stifle our Freedom of Speech, they are still entitled to their Freedom of Crazy Talk.

So I warn them that I am very eloquent, and I could counter their arguments all day, but we Librotraficantes are too busy spreading contraband books to do so.

Besides, this argument will only be settled at the Supreme Court. It will be poetic justice when the lone Latina Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor signs the opinion overturning  Arizona House Bill 2281, the legal trigger used to prohibit Mexican American Studies at Tucson Unified School district. In case you don’t know, this led to Arizona officials yanking from classrooms the 80+ books on the MAS curriculum.

Most book challenges that we talk about during Banned Books weeks cover one book at a time. The oppressors have devised a tactic to challenge and confiscate over 80 books at a time.

However, we don’t have to wait for Sonia Sotomayor to be our hero. The other heroes are the students from Tucson Unified School District suing Arizona to overturn HB2281. The Arizona Supreme Court condoned the law. It now goes to the 9th District Court in San Francisco next Spring.  We must keep the students in our thoughts, and we have to keep supporting them. You can donate to the legal defense fund by clicking on

I know that when folks see Mexican Americans defending their rights it seems as if we are defending only our rights. Actually, the Tucson students are defending everyone’s Freedom of Speech.

They are even defending the Freedom of Speech of those who appoint themselves the intellectual Border Patrol.

There is too much work to be done to waste time trying to talk sense to folks with book-banning fetishes.

So in most cases, I am polite, and I ask them to kindly step to the right, the far right, so that we smuggle these banned books through.

Happy Banned Books Week, America.


Novelist Tony Diaz, El Librotraficante, is the Director of Cultural Diversity at Lone Star College in Houston, Texas.  He was named a Banned Books Week Hero for defying Arizona’s ban of Mexican American Studies.

%d bloggers like this: