Saturday, September 25, 2010

Free to Read, You and Me

Banned Books Week--an annual event that celebrates “the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment”--begins today, September 25, and runs through next Saturday, October 2. It’s amazing that in the 21st century, we’re still having to put up with people who challenge the value of literature, trying to impose their narrow-mindedness on every other reader.

And yet we do. As B.V. Lawson of In Reference to Murder notes, the American Library Association “received 4,312 challenges to books in their member libraries between 2001 and 2009: 1,413 for ‘sexually explicit’ material, 1,125 due to ‘offensive language,’ 897 challenges due to material deemed ‘unsuited to age group,’ 514 challenges due to ‘violence,’ 344 challenges due to ‘homosexuality,’ 109 materials were challenged because they were ‘anti-family,’ and 269 because of their ‘religious viewpoints.’” How ludicrous! As author Gary Dobbs commented on this occasion last year, “These people who seek to ban books from libraries are the PC brigade. They usually challenge books or ask the library to ban them with the best intentions in mind: to protect others, especially children, from difficult ideas and information. I’d much rather they piss off and protect us from their puerile nonsense.”

I agree. If you look over the list of most commonly challenged books in the United States, you find many classics (such as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Call of the Wild, Brave New World, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and Of Mice and Men), but also works that seem far too silly for anyone except those who value ideology over sense to bother complaining about (James and the Giant Peach, the Goosebumps series, Captain Underpants, etc.). It’s hard to take seriously folks who would spend so much energy campaigning in favor of literary censorship--and yet at the same time, decry (hypocritically) governmental intrusion into people’s affairs. But when we live in a country that still produces right-wing attorneys general who think it’s vitally important to cover up women’s breasts on 234-year-old state seals, you realize that we still have a whole lot of evolutionary development to go.

Express your freedom this week--read a banned book.

READ MORE:The 11 Most Surprising Banned Books,” by Jessie Kunhardt and Amy Hertz (The Huffington Post).

1 comment:

Brian Busby said...

Well, to be fair, I doubt many of us want to see a pair of 243-year-old breasts.