Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Banned Books Week-Why I think it matters

If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. ~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

I'm a huge believer in not censoring books.

I'll clarify by saying, if parents want to forbid or make a child wait to read a book until they are older, I don't have a problem with it. I've made that decision on books. My youngest wanted to watch the Twilight movies. I've told her she needs to be a little bit older. Once upon a time, I checked out Blubber by Judy Blume but decided my children needed to be a little older before they read it. I'd not let oldest read Stephen King at 11 but she's getting to the age where I discovered him. If they strongly objected to my decision, we'd probably talk it over and maybe agree to read and discuss together.

However, I do not agree with people deciding if their child won't read that book now or until later, than no child should read that book now or forever. That I do have a problem with. Decide for your own children but don't decide for mine.

I have a problem with a person deciding because the book idea is different than what they believe, that no one should read that book.

The other thing is who decides what books are objectionable? I might object to Twilight because I feel the protagonist is weak. Someone else may think she's not weak but object to it for another reason. Just about every book in the universe is going to have something that someone finds objectionable. So do we ban them all?

Books are ideas. Where do we go from banning books? We ban all the books that we object to. What's to stop us from banning people? After all, people have ideas, too.

Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings. ~Heinrich Heine, Almansor, 1823

This quote was on the fake fireplace in the banned books reading room last night. I had to explain it to both kidlets.

One of the first things Hitler did in his takeover was go after books. Dictators do not want ideas floating around because they are dangerous. They make people think. And a dictator doesn't want people who think for themselves. What did he do after going after books? He went after people he didn't like or objected to.

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire



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