Monday, September 16, 2013

Banned Books Week

Xinhui 新會城 大新路 Daxin Lu motorbike Pedestrian zone Xinhua 新華書店 Bookstore
Xinhui 新會城 大新路 Daxin Lu motorbike Pedestrian zone Xinhua 新華書店 Bookstore
Banned Books Week is coming up, friends: Sept 22nd-28th.

Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to access any book about any thing, and it advocates  against banning or censoring books. Ultimately, it promotes the freedom of ideas, the freedom to think and publish our thoughts. While I might not like or be comfortable with books like We Love Nazis! or Sex, Sex, Come and Get Your Sex, they're allowed to be published. Just like Bibles are allowed to be published.

In fact, I'm against censoring books partially because of the Bible, which is banned, restricted or censored in certain countries where my fellow believers live, and that's just not fair.

If we ban or censor literature now, what might we erase from the future? Think Fahrenheit 451 or 1984, here. Societies deteriorate when they ban free expression.

This conclusion dawned slowly for me, because typically I'm a very a conservative type of person. I could have been a Puritan if I lived in the 17th century.

But I've never heard a good argument for banning books. It just sounds...dangerous, to me. People have been killed simply for owning "banned" books in the past and present. Even today, in nations such as China, Christians are fined or even imprisoned for publishing Christian literature without the government's permission.

These and other reasons have convinced me that people should read and come to their own conclusions about the material, not ban it.

I do think schools should be allowed to keep certain books from the shelves because sometimes, kids are too young to read about ____. But banning books from school shelves  is a very fine line. There has to be a good reason. For example, I wrote a post about the controversy over Speak, a book about a rape victim that some felt was inappropriate for its target audience of Jr. High and up. This book has been challenged and banned in certain schools before, but the reasons twist the book into something it's not.

For the most part, I think it should primarily be a parent's job to protect their children from unwise reading. (I interviewed my awesome artsy neighbors about the aesthetics of art and literature, and their valuable thoughts contributed to my opinion on this matter.)

Adults, though...they need to handle books, not ban them. Books are all about ideas. An author is trying to tell you something through his book. If you don't like the delivery, you can look past it or put it down and find a new one. But don't say, "This book should be banned."

As for my own struggles on this matter...I haven't read Fifty Shades of Grey. I probably won't either because I avoid erotica as a genre, even though I almost always give books a chance. There, I said it, I handled it. But I won't say "This book should be banned" because I honestly haven't read it. I assume it's porn because of the genre, but I can't speak out against it until I know for sure what's it's really all about. So I won't.

I will, however, force myself through a John Green book sooner or later just so I can say, "See, I read it, now I can say 'No thanks!'" I've heard great literary analyses about Green's books; I have never heard a great literary analysis about Fifty Shades of Grey.

I'm an adult. It's about time I start to handle my reading like one. So I propose that everyone ought to stop banning books and starting talking about their content instead.

So what do you think about Banned Book Week? Read more about it, and find lists of frequently challenged books, here.

Photo Attribution:
"Xinhui 新會城 大新路 Daxin Lu motorbike Pedestrian zone Xinhua 新華書店 Bookstore." By Huangkeipais (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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