Sunday, September 25, 2011

Banned Books Week - an honorary posting

So, Banned Books Week is a week dedicated specifically to books that have been banned.  It's a week set aside each year by the ALA. Banned books are books that have actually been removed from libraries and school curriculums; they aren't books that have simply been challenged.  Banned books won't be found in the particular library that you are in, if they have, in fact, been banned. Books are challenged and/or banned for three main reasons: containing sexually explicit material, containing offensive language or being unsuited for any age group.

Examples of books that have been challenged are: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Ulysses by James Joyce, The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, 1984 by George Orwell, Beloved by Toni Morrison, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Native Son by Richard Wright, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, The Satanic Verses Salman Rushdie, Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich, The Hunger Games by Susan Collins, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

So, my rant.  Banning and challenging books is absolutely garbage in my mind.  It's nothing more than censorship dressed up as concern and good parenting. No. I respectfully disagree (and sometimes not so respectfully depending on my mood).  In my opinion, good parents don't look to stunt their child's intellectual development or exposure to different ideas simply because they disagree with those ideas.  By doing so, I firmly believe that you hold your child back from reaching their full potential.  Additionally, if the concern is that your child may be exposed to things that you consider to be immoral, perhaps you should be taking a more active role in talking to your child about what they are reading and why you believe that it is immoral.  Having conversations like this and trying to teach your children about your viewpoint and what you consider to be right or wrong is part of your job as a parent.

As a lawyer and blogger and avid reader, I also find the banning of books to be completely offensive to everything that our Constitution and our laws stand for.  The First Amendment is absolutely one of the bedrocks of our society.  Granted, you can't walk into a theater and shout fire, but literature is hardly akin to that situation at all.  It's censorship, pure and simple and I don't see any difference between the burning of books that the Nazis in Hitler's Germany engaged in and the banning of books here.  It absolutely makes me sick that in 2011, we still have to have the discussion about censorship and banning books.

Here are some resources that I thought were good:

Just my two cents!

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