Someone somewhere in the world picks up a book and within pages is horrified. Perhaps they didn’t read the book themselves, they just read the jacket or heard the horrified murmurs of parents at their child’s school.
“Have you heard of Harry Potter! Blaspheme!”
“Hunger Games dares to ignore my preferred religious sector! BAN IT”
“Captain Underpants is disgusting! No one should be reading that filth!”
In my mind I see these conversations taking place in a dark back room filled with whispers and furtive glances. Later, there are pitchforks and burning pyres of books.
I laugh in the face of these people. First up, let’s address the whole issue of ‘banning’ a book. As we live in the land of the free, home of the brave, no one can tell me or mine what to read or rather, what not to read. Can they take it out of the schools? Absolutely. After all, schools are a place where one has to ask for permission just to void one’s bladder, I don’t expect to find broad, open-minded quests for knowledge within a standard institutional school.
But by removing these books from schools (and their libraries) we do our children a disservice. If we all read the same books, we’ll hold the same conversations, and think the same thoughts. Reading books that don’t sit well with our delicate sensibilities helps us to grow as a species. How can one think outside the box if one doesn’t even know it exists?
But therein lies the issue for many on the banning books bandwagon. After all, we should all think the same, dress the same, carry on our lives in the exact same manner. By melting pot, we truly mean one is to lose sense of self in the vast majority and become a carbon copy of the status quo…
I have to hope not. In history the minds that we laud as the greatest have always pushed the boundaries of (what was then) contemporary thinking. To take that away is to take away one of the most basic freedoms that every person should enjoy: The freedom to hold within one’s mind the thoughts and ideas of one’s choosing. To silence a book is to kill an idea. Eradication is a terrifying word.
Next up, what exactly is the goal of banning these books? As one opposed to any type of oppression or censorship so long as all parties involved are consensual, I admit that I may not be the right person to expose the thinking of one who doesn’t like something and then deems it unworthy for the general population to partake.
I feel pressed to address the issue of ‘banning’ though. We all know exactly where that leads. From the time we are children, the forbid fruit has always been imagined to be the juiciest, most flavorful of all. Why then, would one attempt to blanket ban something in order to encourage children to not partake in it? It seems contrary to the idea behind it. If in fact, one wants to ensure that the book dies before it is read by more than a handful of people would it not in effect be better to simply ignore it as opposed to fanning the flames of fame by attempting to remove it from the figurative bubble one mistakenly believes their child inhabits?
I think so.
Yet and still we have books that have been banned for one reason or another. Hunger Games apparently upset the ‘only my religion is the religion’ folks. Captain Underpants was deemed offensive and too old for the age group (to which I’d question, who exactly should read this offering if not the age group for which it was written?) while Thirteen Reasons Why was obviously banned by persons who have never met a teenager in their lives. Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye… Well even I’m not sure why that one was banned. For truth, it doesn’t seem to me that it is a bad thing to address beauty standards and how that affects our youth. I haven’t read that one so I’m going to have to add it to my list. :D
See that? A book I didn’t even know existed is now on my ‘must read, have to buy’ list. Thank you, censors, for giving me another reason to visit the bookstore or library. Your plan is working! People everywhere know about the books you deem unacceptable (Google will let you know exactly which places are the ones to spark the ‘ban this’ craze for individual titles) and this week, we’re all taking a moment from our regularly scheduled reading to ensure these lovely authors get paid more so that they may go on to read books that ruffle your delicate feathers.