This week, September 25- October 1, is banned books week.
There are a lot of reasons books get banned, but what it all boils down to is that something offends someone. Usually they’re big themes, like language, sexuality, racial or ethnic tensions, violence, religion, or addiction. But the one thing that all banned books have in common is that someone, somewhere, found value in what the author had to say.
I’m anti-censorship. I think that the only kind of censorship that should exist is personal censorship. By that, I mean that if you don’t want to read it (or don’t want your minor children to read it), then don’t. Most schools, even if a books is assigned, will allow a child to read an alternate if their parent objects. But don’t negate my reality, or what I want to learn about the world, by demanding it be pulled out of schools, taken off the shelf at libraries, unwelcome in a bookstore.
Provocative themes make us think. They expand the world, get us talking.
I haven’t liked every book I’ve ever read. Some of them have even offended me. But that doesn’t mean I want to control someone else’s exposure to it. In reality, we’re more and more exposed to all kinds of themes and content. On the internet, on TV, on billboards, through overheard conversations in a restaurant, on social media.
The upside of that is that there are all these wonderful ideas floating around, being shared.
The downside of that is that there are some offensive ideas floating around too.
I believe in balance, and that we can’t have one without the other. In the interest of being able to obtain all those wonderful ideas, I’ll deal with the ones I don’t like too.
Just because it offends me, doesn’t mean if will offend you.
And vice versa.
Exposure to a variety of ideas encourages independent thinking, synthesis, discussion, and sometimes debate.
Let’s not lose sight of that.
What do you think about challenged books and censorship?