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27 September 2010

Banned Books Week



It actually started Saturday, but my Internet at home has been down. It seems the gods of the aether are angry. Ah well.

I know this is NOT going to a popular subject with some folks. And that's fine. Everyone has a right to their own convictions. In fact, I encourage discussion on this topic by those who agree and those who disagree with me. We are all free to our own opinions and have the right to speak out. Popular, unpopular. "Acceptable", "Un- acceptable". That is, after all, what this is all about.

Banned Books. Hmmmm, such a bizarre notion. Seriously. Why ban a book? Because some people decide that they should decide what we should or should not read.

I have a big, BIG problem with that.

There are those who would stand up to me, tell me that it's for the best, for the children that books are banned. Is it? Would you really want to raise your children in a world where someone (not YOU, the PARENT) tells them what they can and cannot read? Do you really want someone else dictating what's ok to put into your child's mind?

I don't.

Yes, there are books out there with some heavy material. There are books out there children are too sensitive to read, or, quite frankly, shouldn't read. BUT...

NO ONE has the right to tell me, my child, my family, my nieces, my nephews, my friends WHAT IS ACCEPTABLE. That is a decision based on free will and the parents of said children.

Why do I feel so strongly about this? Not just because I'm a writer. Not just because I believe in free speech for all, but because

THE MINUTE YOU ALLOW SOMEONE THE POWER TO DECIDE WHAT WE CAN AND CANNOT READ, YOU GIVE THEM THE POWER TO TAKE AWAY OTHER FREEDOMS. Freedoms such as what we can and cannot write, watch, wear, think, say, do. Be.

Are you really willing to go that route?

If you really want to do something for the sake of the children, teach them. Read to them. Talk to them. Let them explore and find their wings. Be there to guide them, to hold them, to protect them from the monsters when things get out of hand. But if they're never allowed to face the monsters, how will they grow? How will they realize they really are strong.

And if you would take away their strength, their means to communicate, by taking away their books, you are taking away their choice, their thoughts, their dreams.

That's not protection. That's control.

You also might be taking someones ability to open up about something that happened to them, that they can relate to. Something horrible that they need healing from. Something that may never before have been able to be talked about until they read it. In a book.

Yes. Books are THAT powerful. Perhaps that's why some people want them banned. It's an interesting fact that during a revolution, some of the first people to be imprisoned or killed are writers and artists.

I'm willing to fight for books of all shapes and sizes. If I don't, it may be mine story that's banned one day.

And I will not let them silence me.

Thoughts?

Read more on this:
American Library Association
Mad Woman in the Forest
Operation Awesome
Through My Eyes
Ten Surprisingly Banned Books
Amnesty International
Celebrate Your Freedom to Read
American Booksellers Foundations for Freedom of Expression

7 comments:

Karen Walker said...

AMEN, Jen. I am so with you on this one. Thanks for bringing it up here.
karen

deb said...

I'm completely with you on this .
Sometimes I've wished for a little heads up on a book's content , as a reader, and as a parent, but it's no different from movies. And at the end of the day, the alternative is beyond terrifying.

Melissa said...

I agree, wholeheartedly. Nobody has the right to tell others what they should and should not read. There are laws protecting the freedoms of North Americans and it bothers me every single time a book gets banned.

Brian Miller said...

i am with you...i think the importance is in educating those selecting a book...

lbdiamond said...

I think there are many more important things to focus on than banning books. Homelessness, health care, taxes, etc, etc, etc.

Great post!

Lin said...

Banning books always leads folks to wanting to read them more!

Mary Aalgaard said...

Excellent speech! I actually wrote a paper on this topic in high school. One of our English teachers had us choose a banned book to read.