Friday, September 25, 2009

Banned Books Week: September 26-October 3

Did you ever watch The Waltons? If not, it was about a family living in the mountains of Virginia who had a number of kids and live near a small town. The drama took place before and during World War II. On one episode (the details of which are a little scratchy) the law-abiding, church going townspeople get all up in arms about the German books in the library and decide to hold a book burning to get rid of all the Nazi propaganda. John Boy, the oldest Walton child, book reader and writer of the family, tries to reason with the once reasonable neighbors who have leapt wholeheartedly into this ignorant, angry mob. As often happens with an angry mob, they won't hear any of it so John Boy brings a member of the community who happens to be German to the book burning. She saves a book just as it is about to be incinerated and begins to read it to the crowd, translating it into English, "Our Father, which art in Heaven. Hallowed be thy name."

And that, my friends, is why you don't ban books. Instead, you educate people and allow them to make intelligent decisions. Included on the American Library Association's list of books that have been challenged and/or banned in 2008 and 2009 are Kite Runner, To Kill a Mockingbird [which is required reading in Mississippi!], The Catcher in the Rye, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn among others. The list they've compiled isn't really that long and a lot of them were middle school libraries, which I'd say is not so cut and dry. It's ok for an 8th grader to have no access to The Joy of Sex. It's more than ok, but the issue is that all over the world people are stopped from reading things that would actually give them a more realistic view of what the world is actually like or what it could be like. Yes, To Kill a Mockingbird might scare little black kids, but much of that amazing book is about ignorance. The perpetuation of which is a whole lot scarier.

The moral of the story is two-fold: don't burn the Bible just because you can't read the language it's written in and challenge ignorance in whatever country you live in. I know I'm preaching to the choir here.

A book about banned books: Reading Lolita in Tehran: A professor gathers a group of her former students in Tehran for a covert literature class of banned books. While not my favorite book, the issues of censorship are ripe for the picking. Jane Austen was among the blacklisted authors. Can you actually imagine a world without Mr. Darcy? I shudder at the thought.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Great post!
I read Reading Lolita and LOVED it!!!...And no, I couldn't imagine a world without the hope that there is a Mr. Darcy out there.