30th Anniversary of Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read…The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools.

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Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

In most of the cases I've read, it sounds like the reasons for attempting to ban books were parents wanting society/gov't to do their job for them. 

It is hard work to pre-read new books, or even remember the content of older books, in order to make choices that are appropriate for your children. We can and should filter what our kids read, but the idea of banning books from schools and libraries and reading lists is way extreme. 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Susan R wrote:
We can and should filter what our kids read, but the idea of banning books from schools and libraries and reading lists is way extreme.

Susan,

I know you don't really believe this. The alternative to banning is to remove all filters -- as many public libraries have done, releasing their computers to all kinds of adult content. You wouldn't want to stop banning books from the shelves and have the same problem there, right?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Bro. Chip, I'm not sure what it is that you know I don't believe.

The library is full of adult content. When parents try to have books banned, they want them removed from the library so their kids won't read them, but doing so removes them from everyone's access. If a parent doesn't want their child to read a book, then don't let them read that book. Don't use the police power of gov't to decide what other people and their children can and can't read. 

Funny, isn't it, that the most challenged books aren't those by Anne Rice or Judith Krantz or Harold Robbins, or Fifty Shades of Grey for cryin' out loud, or Cosmopolitan magazine- no, they want to remove Harry Potter and Huckleberry Finn and 1984. Seriously. 

 

 

Charlie's picture

Another source of "banned" books is the middle or high school English/literature class. Sometimes teachers knowingly assign edgy books. That's a valid parental concern. In the case of banning a book from a library, it's about prohibiting access to an item. In the case of the classroom, it's about not being forced to read an item. So, that's different. Campaigning to have a book removed from the classroom isn't really a ban, in my opinion. It's a judgment about age-appropriateness, and sometimes just appropriateness. Schools should be careful about purposefully exposing students to gratuitous objectionable content.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Susan R wrote:

Bro. Chip, I'm not sure what it is that you know I don't believe.

The library is full of adult content. When parents try to have books banned, they want them removed from the library so their kids won't read them, but doing so removes them from everyone's access. If a parent doesn't want their child to read a book, then don't let them read that book. Don't use the police power of gov't to decide what other people and their children can and can't read. 

Funny, isn't it, that the most challenged books aren't those by Anne Rice or Judith Krantz or Harold Robbins, or Fifty Shades of Grey for cryin' out loud, or Cosmopolitan magazine- no, they want to remove Harry Potter and Huckleberry Finn and 1984. Seriously.

Perhaps I was wrong. To clarify, are you saying that banning of books by public authorities is wrong or bad? That banning books should always/only be an individual choice?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Yes, that's what I'm saying. 'Censorship' should only take place on a family/individual basis. Citizens should not attempt to use the police power of gov't to have their personal opinions about literature forced on others.

But there are decency laws that protect children in most public places, and since stores and libraries depend on public support, they are usually happy to make sure that children are not exposed to nudity or explicit sex by covering up the covers of magazines at the checkout aisle, or filtering public computers.

I agree with Bro. Charlie about required school reading being a different issue, but I think the way many parents go about this is unnecessarily confrontational and make them look silly. They'll raise a fuss over To Kill a Mockingbird but don't blink at Canterbury Tales, or they saw the movie The Scarlett Letter with Demi Moore and think that is an accurate representation of Hawthorne. 

As if.

Many lit teachers that I know offer a reading list for students to choose from, and class assignments are fairly typical- Dickens, Twain, etc... if a kid comes home with a Toni Morrison, it isn't necessary to go in with parental guns blazing. Ask questions first.

 

 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Yes, that's what I'm saying. 'Censorship' should only take place on a family/individual basis. Citizens should not attempt to use the police power of gov't to have their personal opinions about literature forced on others.

But there are decency laws that protect children in most public places...

 

This is still censorship.

 

Are you advocating a completely libertarian form of government then, or only in matters of media? 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Obscenity and decency laws are not censorship. They do not prevent people from doing obscene and stupid things in private or in places set aside for those activities, just in public. They do not prevent access to porn, they prevent the display of porn in public places

Censorship prevents ALL access. It demands that we physically remove 'objectionable' content from society (in this conversation, from the library), even to the point of destroying them, as well as preventing the publication of anything that is deemed 'objectionable'.

Wikipedia defines censorship as "the suppression of speech or other public communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body."

Or check out this site- http://journalism.okstate.edu/faculty/jsenat/censorship/defining.htm

"The term censorship, however, as commonly understood, connotes any examination of thought or expression in order to prevent publication of 'objectionable' material."
        -- U.S. Supreme Court, Farmers Educational & Coop. Union v. WDAY, Inc., 360 U.S. 525, 527 (1959)

Censorship is problematic in that it is impossible to define what is truly 'objectionable'. Promoters of censorship will soon find the Bible at the top of the list, and won't be able to do anything about it without looking hypocritical. 

And yes- I'm a libertarian.