My Thoughts on Banned Books

There’s not a whole lot I can write about banned books that hasn’t already been written this week. I’m against banning books. Like really against it. I can never in my life remember my mom telling me I couldn’t read a book. A lot of times, I would ask to read something and if she didn’t think I was ready for it or she thought it would upset me too much we’d talk about it. I can never remember not agreeing with her with her by the end of those conversations. In fact, our only really fights about books were books like Outsiders and Exodus she wanted me to read, but that I thought would be too scary.

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I get that not everyone is lucky enough to have a family like me. Not all children have parents who are that involved. Not all parents have children who listen to them. But shouldn’t we all be striving for that? Banning books seems to me like working towards the lowest common denominator. It underestimates kids and it underestimates parents. If the parents who make phone trees, call teachers, and hold meetings to get books banned spent have that time talking to their kids instead, I think everyone would be in a better place. Because ultimately conversation, not censorship needs to be the focus.

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There are lots of things I disagree with and things I don’t believe in, but I still think books about those things should be on the shelves of libraries. Reading Huck Finn didn’t make me start using racial slurs. Gossip Girl didn’t make me drink in high school. Fifty Shades of Grey hasn’t made me enter a BDSM relationship (yet). The assumption that teenagers (and sometimes adults) can’t be exposed to these things, without blinding following them is offensive. Not that I’m suggesting. 50 Shades be handed out in high schools!

What’s even more offensive to me is that so many of the top banned books are challenged either for being sex-positive or containing homosexuality. There are lots of books about things I don’t believe in. For example the Bible contains instances of gang rape, genocide, murder, extreme sexism, and the condonation of slavery. However, I would argue to keep the Bible on library shelves as vigilantly as I’d argue for Judy Blume.

So yeah, banning books is awful.

And I’m really grateful that there is a week where people who agree with me can come together and talk about it.

5 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Banned Books

    • Yeah, I wasn’t sure if it made me feel better or worse that so many challenges were made by parents. On the one hand, I do think parents have the most right to try and control the media their children consume. On the other hand, why should one parent’s opinion or a small group of parents’ opinions affect what all children can find in a library or classroom.

      • Agreed, and it’s interesting/ironic how often, it seems, the parents calling for bans on books–thus affecting more than their own children–adamantly refuse to have those in authority control what their children are taught.

  1. I think another important aspect banned book week is censorship by educational figures, such as teachers.

    This past week author and University of Toronto professor David Gilmour blithely announced to an interviewer that he’s simply “not interested in teaching books by women”. Yikes. He followed that up with: “What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys.” So much for authors of the LGBT community. And did you notice all the named author were White?

    To me that’s a far worse way to “ban” books, to have an authority figure devalue them (and their authors) on the basis of those authors’ gender, beliefs, sexuality, politics, etc. in front of students.

    Although I have to admit, Love Italian Style, by Melissa Gorga, which has yet to be released, makes me believe there should still be an ability to ban books. It advocates husbands raping their wives, among other 16th century views of women, and this from a supposedly modern American woman! Again . . . Yikes!

    • I have been following the David Gilmour story. What a jerk! I totally agree with you that having an authority figure exclude or ban books in many ways is more concerning. I slanted my post towards parents, because I was surprised to find out this week they were the ones who most frequently challenged books. But you are right, teachers and school administrators have a way of “banning” books in a less public and therefore perhaps more dangerous way. They can just choose to to teach them or exclude them from the curriculum. For example (while I hate labeling books as girl books or boy books) I think it’s interesting that schools seem to overwhelmingly teach more male centric books because they say male students won’t read books with female male characters. Even my middle school, which was hugely progressive, took The Diary of Anne Frank off the curriculum because the boys complained about it. (also really horrified by Love Italian Style). Thanks for commenting!

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