Saturday, August 8, 2009

Book Banning and the Stupidity Thereof

Hello there! Meghan here to talk to you about book banning. Which will be a very constant subject on this blog.

Book banning is when one person or a group of people try to remove a book for any number of reasons from a public library, school library, class reading list, or occasionally a bookstore for various reasons. Usually because of sexual or homosexual content that is perceived is "indecent." Books are most often made unavailable to children through this method, without restricting access for adults.

Book banning is not a modern invention. Throughout history, books (most often religious texts) have been banned and even burned (book burnings still happen today, even in North America, twisted huh?). In the Tudor era, Protestants burnt the Lutheran version of the Bible (and the Lutherans themselves if they refused to convert, but that's an entirely different can of worms) because they considered the teachings to be heresy.

Examples of books most commonly challenged in the United States at the moment include To Kill A Mockingbird, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, The Color Purple, and The Outsiders.

I personally think book banning is absolutely ridiculous and it's reasoning is flawed. Besides that, it violates civil rights of free speech (at least in Canada and the United States, I'm not sure of laws in other countries). If you do not like the content in a book, you do not have to read it. I repeat, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO READ IT. Isn't free will great?

It bugs me even more when it involves a public library. Specifically people trying to remove a book or relocate it from the children or young adult section to a special "reserve shelf" or the adult's section.

Before I continue I'm going to politely ask you to watch this video, I'll wait until you finish:

Back? Good.

I don't have a problem with someone thinking a particular book or a group of books isn't appropriate for their children. But a public library is for THE PUBLIC. Meaning EVERYONE. Meaning OTHER PEOPLE WHO OFTEN HAVE DIFFERENT BELIEFS THAN YOUR OWN. And nobody has any right to say "This book is inappropriate for all children who visit this library ". Because the same book that would be inappropriate for your child might really help another. That's why there are books about abuse, rape, drugs, alcohol, sex, homosexuality and bisexuality, because there are kids out there who don't have anyone to talk to and they need these kinds of books. That's why they belong on the shelves.

So, instead of removing a book from the library or putting it on a special reserve shelf that requires parental permission to check out, how about actually going to the library with your children and making sure what they're checking out is appropriate for your household?

And putting that responsibility on the librarians is stupid. The librarians are there to do their job, not act in loco parentis for your children or anyone's children. They are there to serve everyone, not just you.

We may not like what we hear or see or read but we have the ability to not listen or not look. Books are ideas, banning a book is the same as putting tape over someone's mouth.

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