Thoughts on book banning/challenging

by Rachel Baker on October 19, 2007

I did a little research on some of the books that were banned over the last century; and I just don’t understand the audacity of people who want books banned, and which ones they challenge.

My first question, and maybe one of the most important for society to think about, is how can an educational institute request ANY book banned or even just challenge a book for that matter? What happened to opening the minds of students and introducing them to opportunities they wouldn’t normally seek out on their own?

From the ALA:
Between 1990 and 2000, of the 6,364 challenges reported to or recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom (see The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books):
* 1,607 were challenges to “sexually explicit” material (up 161 since 1999);
* 1,427 to material considered to use “offensive language”; (up 165 since 1999)
* 1,256 to material considered “unsuited to age group”; (up 89 since 1999)
* 842 to material with an “occult theme or promoting the occult or Satanism,”; (up 69 since 1999)
* 737 to material considered to be “violent”; (up 107 since 1999)
* 515 to material with a homosexual theme or “promoting homosexuality,” (up 18 since 1999)and
* 419 to material “promoting a religious viewpoint.” (up 22 since 1999)

Other reasons for challenges included “nudity” (317 challenges, up 20 since 1999), “racism” (267 challenges, up 22 since 1999), “sex education” (224 challenges, up 7 since 1999), and “anti-family” (202 challenges, up 9 since 1999).

Are you serious???

Without the exchange of ideas or development of individual thoughts, society becomes “DUMB” – people begin to accept what “just is.” instead of forming their own opinions and ideas of what a great society is.

Can’t you see that most novels are most of the time a social commentary on some aspect of the era the book was written?

Educational Institutions: You want to teach your students to think critically – don’t ban books that help open their minds to new ideas.
Religious Sects: You want to save your flocks’ souls and make good and just decisions – don’t ban books that help them to learn from the trial’s of life’s temptations.
Parents: Making the decision to disallow your children to read a certain type of book does not give you the right to make this decision for other parents! You have every right to monitor what your children read, but don’t make that decision for others.

I challenge anyone who is actually trying to challenge a book to take a literature class – not a writing class…a literature class. Spend some time actually reading the books that you want banned and look deeper than the words, look at the theme, the motifs, the metaphors, the history of what was going on in the world when the book was written. Check out the author’s life – see if you can figure out what it is that caused that particular person to write that particular book. Read it, analyze it, figure out “why” it was written, but don’t take from others the opportunity for new thinking and creativity.

The Next Banned Book week is September 27 – October 4, 2008. Plan for it! Spend the year reading books that have been challenged.

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