September 28, 2009

The Mondays: Banned Books Week

It's an odd thing, banning books. I've never understood the unmitigated self-aggrandizement of those who try to have books banned from our schools, libraries, and store shelves. Oh sure, they'll cite the protection of impressionable children and inarguably offensive language as part of their reasoning, but is that enough to give them the authority to dictate what books society may read and books we may not?

To answer that, I have two words: Fuck no.

It is insufferable enough to see special interest groups and assorted dingbats cry out against and attempt to sabotage the distribution of movies, video-games, and music. Yet, I find myself all the more disgusted when it is the printed word that is the target of such protestation. Aside from speech, it is the simplest and most cherished form of expression mankind has at its disposal. Perhaps my liberal sentimentality causes me too much of a headache on the subject.

I think what gets my quills up the most about the notion of banning books is the ridiculousness of the arguments against many of those books. I have little respect for such weak-minded opposition to what amounts to at best, innocuous subject matter seen in children's books, and at worst, some of the finest literary achievements to be seen anywhere. Perish the thought, a book exists which may impinge on a person's ideological upbringing. It's simply not adequate for the offended to steer clear of the supposedly appalling book, they must decry it and demonize it and hang it from the proverbial gallows. And if that doesn't work, the aliterate malcontents resort to book burning demonstrations. How droll ... in a medieval sort of way.

Are there books I consider repellent, loathsome, or out-and-out abhorrent? You bet I do. And I think a person would be better off ignoring those books altogether. But, just as abhorrent is the idea that I should take it upon myself to make sure no one has an opportunity to read those books. My tastes and personal beliefs are not paramount to those of anyone else, so when someone puts their crosshairs on a book like And Tango Makes Three, Baby Be-Bop, or possibly The Golden Compass, I want to tell the high-and-mighty to mind their own damned business.

It's very simple, people. If you don't like the book, don't read the book. If someone asks your opinion, feel free to tell them. Heck, you don't even have to be asked, just blog about it or something. It's your voice, use it. But, please, respect the rest of the world and let us exercise the same choice too. Just because you might think The Kite Runner and To Kill a Mockingbird are inappropriate books for you or your kids to read, you are not entitled to order the rest of us around. It might also help if you actually read the book you're trying to ban, so you have--oh, what's it called?--an informed opinion.

So, in the most diplomatic fashion I care to muster as a closing statement to the wannabe book banners of the world ...

If you think you're making the world a better place by banning books, you're sorely mistaken.


  1. Very well said. I detest the people that want to ban The Golden Compass, which I consider one of fantasies best. I know I wont be banning any books in my house when my boys are of reading age.

  2. I always thought the idea of 'banning' books was a bit over the top. I personally would support a rating system - like with movies and video games - then people (parents) could choose what they felt was appropriate for their under-aged kids to read. Book banning is just some people going to far to keep books they don't like out of the hands of others who might like them. Just my think-so...

  3. Bella - Always good to hear. A child with a diverse reading background is so much better off than one without.

    Logan - I'm not even sure I could support a rating system. The bureaucratic nature of ratings systems in movies, TV, and video-games make me cringe when applied to books.