October 2, 2012

Banned Books Week

Banned Book Week September 30-Oct 6, 2012
This week is Banned Books Week.

Hopefully that sinks in a bit.  Here we have a country that celebrates its 1st Amendment right to free speech, but also has to have a week to bring attention to the fact that our libraries like to ban books.

Am I the only one who finds this a little oxymoronic?

Now, I'm not saying that just because someone had some ideas to express and put those ideas into book form that means everyone should read those expressions.  I'm certain there are a lot of idiots writing drivel, crap, and things that I find morally reprehensible.  I would hope that my local libraries don't purchase those types of materials, but at the same time I don't expect these same libraries to cater to my particular whims.

All I want is for a library to have a well-defined acquisition criteria and weeding policy and follow it.  Really, I think that is all everyone should be asking for.  Unfortunately we have people in our society that think their own particular standards should be the ones used to not only judge fitness for use, but to outright deny others' from accessing materials they might not find so objectionable.

So instead of people making informed decisions as to personal appropriateness (and appropriateness for their charges), we have a third party making preemptive decisions for us.  I think the local loud-mouthed parents or religious nut-job is able to make a better decision as to what books a library should have over a trained Library Director.

From Banned Books.org here is a list of the top 10 titles challenged in 2011, along with the reason why:

1)  ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
     Reasons: offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

2)  The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa
     Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

3)  The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
     Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence

4)  My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler
     Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

5)  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
     Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

6)  Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
     Reasons: nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint

7)  Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
     Reasons: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit

8)  What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
     Reasons: nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit

9)  Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar
     Reasons: drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit

10) To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
     Reasons: offensive language; racism

I won't pretend to have ready any or all of these books and be able to vouch for their contents, but if they were in a collection to begin with (kind of necessary to be challenged), I would say that someone, somewhere......with a bit more education and experience was able to vouch for these books.

Banned Books Week Virtual Read-OutI don't have kids, so again I won't pretend to be able to speak as to how it is to raise children with all of these "dangerous" books available in the library.  I will say though that I learned to read at an early age thanks to my Maternal Grandmother and I truly feel that had made all the difference in life for me.

I would like to think that people are generally able to make good decisions for themselves when it comes to reading and that parents can make good decisions for their children.  If you don't want your child reading material inappropriate for their age, then supervise them!  I would assume that you try to screen all other media for your kids, right?  You wouldn't let your 4 year old listen to Eazy-E and N.W.A. would you?

Does your desire to protect your children mean that I shouldn't be able to listen to those groups should I want to or read any book that I want to.....or are you just lazy and figure that the easy way to "supervise" your child's media is to simply ban anything you wouldn't agree with in the first place.  If you can sanitize the local library then you will have no problem dropping off the kids to run about on their own.

I guess I'll never be able to wrap my head around stupid people doing stupid things.....like banning books.  If some books are such a big concern, then get active (participation and monetarily) with your library's governance and get input on the collection criteria.  Don't censor after the fact.......

.....also, get out and read more.  You might understand why these books are deemed to have had value to begin with for the library to acquire them.

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