For those of you who are absolutely clueless to what is Banned Books Week and are curious to know all about it, I encourage you to visit The American Library Association for more information. They have all sorts of information and, to be honest, most of the information I’ll be sharing this week is found there. And Banned Books Week also has a website here; you should go check it out.
A banned or challenged book has had requests to either pull them from public bookshelves or for the publisher stop printing them. Banned Books Week is a time where book geeks celebrate them to promote the glorious civil right we have of freedom of opinion. No matter how unpopular, outrageous, boring, or common our opinions can sometimes be, we have a right to have them. Imagine that? No one can tell me how I’m supposed to feel or that there is a correct way or even a wrong way to feel about something. Now, etiquette dictates I’m not suppose to be snarky about it, but it still my right to have whatever opinion I have *nods*.
In addition to celebrating the right to have my opinion, Banned Books Week also promotes freedom of speech. Again, social decorum stresses politeness and mindfulness when you go about expressing your opinion, usually, but it’s still a right to express whatever it is I want to express.
I hear the word censorship when talking about this week and rightly so. Challenges made against the books on the Banned Books lists isn’t simply someone expressing their opinion. Individuals, groups, or organizations are actually looking to remove these materials; in other words, censoring what people read. And to be clear, censorship is a suppression of speech, public communication, other information which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by governments, media outlets, authorities or other such entities.
Are you for censorship or against it?
I am an information junkie. Do I need to elaborate? Oh, alright, I will.
Suppression: the action of suppressing something such as an activity or publication.
Suppress: forcibly put an end to.
Based on those definitions … I am against censorship. Having said that, I do believe that there are certain themes and concepts that should be introduced by maturity level, but I do not feel they should be suppressed. Take the concept of crime, violent and/or non-violent. Teaching children about stealing or vandalism is one thing, but having children read about murder is a totally different thing.
Maturity level, tricky subject. And another post. But the bottom line is, I don’t think censorship is the right way to do things. I’ve learned a lot of stuff by reading all kinds of stuff. There are things that I can understand that I haven’t experienced first hand yet, through “banned” books. They give us perspective on issues and challenges we have yet to face, are facing, or have the fortune of never having to face.
When I wasn’t allowed to watch the made-for-TV movie, The Last Don, because it was too violent, it was about the Mafia, and I was about 10 years old, I ended up borrowing the book from my local library (Sorry Mom and Dad for my disobedience, but the previews looked really good). I skipped over the too violent parts and the swearing (and, yes, I really did. I’m not just saying that. I really did skip over it or *beeped* it out. I read just enough to get the gist of it and then *fast forward*). It turned out to be a really great book with a really great story. Ask me what happened and I can’t tell you, but I know I was glad I read the book.
So, here’s to Banned Books Week! Go read a good book!