I’m going to rant about censorship and banned books here for a moment. Feel free to skip down to the pretty pictures if you’re already on my soapbox or if you just aren’t in the mood for a rant right now.
I am incredibly passionate about reading and literacy. I feel that every single person on the earth has a right to read what they want and explore new ideas. If there is anything on this planet that really gets my panties in a bunch, it’s censorship. Censorship makes me want to scream. It disgusts me. I find it ludicrous and despicable that there are people out there who think they have a right to tell others what to read.
Reading is an expression of who we are. It is a way to delve into new worlds, to learn about different ways of life and to escape from reality for a little while. Reading is knowledge. Knowledge is power. Censoring what we can read takes away some of our power. It is a violation of the 1st Amendment, which to me is the most important of the Bill of Rights because it allows us to be ourselves without fear of prosecution (or being burned at the stake).
You know what really freaking ticks me off? There were 138 more banned or challenged books reported in 2012 than in 2011, according to BannedBooksWeek.org. Does that mean it’s getting worse? It could be that the reporting system is getting better or that more people are concerned. Still, it bothers me. We live in a time where the fundamental right to freedom of expression should be a given. So why are there still idiots out there trying to ban books?
No More Banned Books: Take responsibility for your own family
Here’s what I think: if you don’t want your kid to read a particular book then be a parent and tell them “no.” Don’t try to prevent MY kid from reading it just because you feel uncomfortable with the subject matter for whatever reason. I’m uncomfortable with the subject matter in most religious texts, but I don’t try to ban the Bible from the drawers of hotel rooms everywhere. I just don’t open the freaking drawer and I keep such texts out of my house. It’s really quite simple.
The funny thing is, I grew up in a religious family and attended Catholic high school. I was encourage by my grandparents AND my school English teachers to read as many books as possible, including banned books. In fact, during my senior year “Go Ask Alice” was one of our required reading books. My teacher was a nun (the coolest nun on the planet, mind you). The educators of my school understood that kid are not idiots. They understood that we could read a book about a girl who goes on a downward spiral into the world of drugs without going out and becoming addicts ourselves. Guess what? They were right!
Despite reading so-called “objectionable” subject matter most of my life, I am actually a pretty well-rounded and somewhat normal person! Harry Potter didn’t turn me into a witch (I was a Pagan long before that book came out). Fight Club didn’t make me want to go out and beat people up. Romeo and Juliet didn’t make me want to go kill myself with my boyfriend, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test didn’t make me want…hmmm, that one is a bad example. The point is, books didn’t make me a bad person and they didn’t make me do bad things.
I’m going to get off my soapbox now and share some of my favorite quotes from the most commonly challenged and banned books over the last decade. I invite you to tell me your thoughts on banned books and censorship!