Burning Words

This is banned books week, for any of you who’ve been under a rock.

Hey — even *I* know about it, so you have no excuse! In honor of the event, I picked a banned book from the recent list that happened to be one of my all-time favorite books, ever, to enjoy a little sunshine here. And yes, I read it in high school. (Of course, I also read The Joy of Sex in 6th grade, so I’m not a good case-study.)

Author Jeri Smith-Ready sent ’round this interesting link that shows a map of book challenges. She commented that she found it surprising. I’m betting that she’s surprised there are so many challenges in the liberal East and so few in the conservative West.
I think there are two things going on here:
1) Teachers and librarians in the conservative West are much less likely to rock the boat by choosing questionable books in the first place.
2) The general population are less likely to be busybodies and get in anyone else’s face about what they are reading.
I recall a conversation I had in the wake of Matthew Shepherd’s murder. My friend, a writer, had relocated to Laramie from Boston. She thought the town guilty of allowing the hate crime because Westerners don’t confront issues in the open.
“My landlord,” she told me, “sees me bring women over. I know he can see me bring women over and never once has he said anything to me about me being a lesbian.”
I told her I thought this was a common courtesy thing. You live your life and I’ll live mine.
This is how I feel about books. Leave people be. Even young people. I truly believe that no one was ever harmed by reading. Our minds are meant to take in and filter information and it’s up to each of us to do that for ourselves. Any time we take the step of filtering for someone else, we’re depriving them of some of their humanity.
Not to be confrontational about it.

One Reply to “Burning Words”

  1. My father, your grandfather, believed that if we were old enough to understand what we read, then we could read it. He DID NOT approve of censorship. I think that knowledge is power. How does one know what to believe (or not believe) if one doesn't even know what it is?

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