Are Banned Books Logical?

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Started in 1982, Banned Books Week is an annual event that celebrates the freedom to read and calls attention to the wealth of creative expression that is stifled when books can be forbidden from library shelves. -ACLU

AMEN.

I have something to say about this, because banned books infuriate me.

The purpose of reading is not to be instilled with a certain mindset; it is to be endowed with knowledge. I may not agree with everything I read, but that doesn’t mean I can’t read it. That’s not to say that you have to read any particular book. Freedom is the prospect here. But you should have the choice.

Reading is about understanding, not agreeing or adopting a particular mindset.

I have either read or plan on reading most of the books in that picture. I’ve read Of Mice and Men, Slaughterhouse-five, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and some of Ulysses. On my to-read list are: As I Lay Dying, Lord of the Flies, The Sun Also Rises, The Catcher in the Rye, and Catch-22. Many of these books are classics, and some of them I just frankly don’t see how they ended up on the banned books list. Many of them I read for school. My dad grew up in a conservative town and he read The Lord of the Flies in school and loved it. It just doesn’t add up. 

Here are the only reasons I can think why these books were banned:

Race: To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn both fall under this category. They are about heavy racial issues, and I guess people don’t want their children to be exposed to any form of prejudice or violence (which is first-off a naive hope, might I add).

Witchcraft: You can guess which one belongs here: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. 

Promiscuity: While I have no idea what The Joy of Sex is, I can take a guess as to why it was banned. Some of the other books may also belong in this category, but I’m honestly not entirely sure if they do. If anything, Slaughterhouse-five might belong here.

Violence: Possibly same books as race. Same reason.

Now here’s why I don’t think those reasons are good enough:

Race: We can’t ignore history. It’s happened and it’s still relevant, and teenagers aren’t in a bubble away from the world. They are in it, and they need to know about it. Some of it may be graphic, but trust me, they can handle it. It’s not like they haven’t seen the equivalent or worse elsewhere.

Witchcraft: This… just this… Okay, so I grew up in a conservative household where I couldn’t read Harry Potter. My parents couldn’t get past the witchcraft aspect, and while I respect them, I disagree with their opinion on this subject. I recently got my mom to watch the movies with me and she admitted that there are a lot of good aspects to them, but she still couldn’t entirely get over the witchcraft. That’s fine. It’s whatever, because for the most part, she was able to get past that aspect and watch them and appreciate them for what they are. As for me, come college I started reading them. I love them now and I haven’t become a Wicken. I am still a conservative Christian and Harry Potter hasn’t effected my faith or anybody else’s that I know. And if I were to address the magic I would say that it’s a fantasy world where magic exists as a neutral entity. You are born with it, so you might as well learn how to control it. It isn’t real life. We are all aware of this. I could go on, but I won’t.

Promiscuity: Okay I have to say that this is probably the most legitimate reason, but depending on the book, I stand by my point. Teenagers aren’t called children for a reason. They know things. Don’t pretend they don’t. I am not encouraging promiscuity by any means, but like racism, it exists, and you can’t make it go away by preventing them from reading something that may have one itty bitty inappropriate part. Take John Green’s book Looking for Alaska. It was banned for a time at a school because of promiscuity, but it’s a book about teenagers and it’s practically an autobiography. John Green didn’t want to make the book inappropriate. It’s just realistic.

Violence: …same as race.

While I agree that there is such a thing as age-appropriate reading, just like with any book in school, there is a solution to that problem: the permission slip; parents have to sign these. If the parent disagrees with a book’s subject, they can request a change for that student. Some say that’s embarrassing for that student, but honestly, they can handle it. I was in high school once and not so long ago at that. These kids are in high school. They are big kids now. 

If we’re talking younger than high school, I might could see some of these. But you just generally don’t read those things anyway at that age because of reading level or something. 

There are also a couple quotes about books that I love:

The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame. -Oscar Wilde

Also,

If you don’t care for obscenity, you don’t care for the truth. -Tim O’Brien

We may not like it; we may not agree with it; it may be shameful, but it’s realistic.

Link to ACLU site on Banned Book Week: https://www.aclu.org/infographic/infographic-banned-books-week

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3 thoughts on “Are Banned Books Logical?

  1. I definitely agree about banned books. I was forbidden from reading Harry Potter too as a kid. Around middle school I finally convinced my parents they weren’t evil, and I finished the sixth book just in time for the 7th to come out. I won my parents over by pointing out that they weren’t offended by the witchcraft and general magic in the Disney movies I’d seen growing up, like Cinderella, or in books written by Christian authors like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. For crying out loud, Gandalf and Harry Potter are both wizards, but for some reason one was OK and the other wasn’t. It took them a bit because their friends were opposed to Harry Potter, but eventually they realized I was right, and now my dad loves the Harry Potter movies.

    Like

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