Especially in the United States I don’t think we face as much censorship of what we read in certain ways as many other parts of the world. In some areas certain books are even illegal and possession of them can lead to fines, prison sentences, and sometimes even worse in places like North Korea. I think a majority of the world the censoring and banning of books is of a much more subtle variety.
As an example the Harry Potter series was debated heavily for a variety of reasons. Personally I find this example to be a bit ridiculous. If anything I believe Harry Potter has more positive things to teach than many books geared toward the same age group.
But what about books I really dislike or feel are nothing more than hateful, misinformed at best – harmful and abusive at worst. I mentioned several books I’d not read due to content in my top ten Tuesday feature this week. Some of these books I feel are outright harmful to society – spreading misinformation, glorifying abuse, hatred, etc. But I still hestiate at the thought of banning them. That’s not to say if I owned a book store I’d agree to sell them because that gets into promotion of such things.
Let’s for example say Westboro Baptist Church decided to publish a book about the beliefs they have. I’d never read it and can’t imagine the backlash it would receive. At the same time of finding every single thing they stand for offensive and horrible (there are really not enough words to describe my distaste) I can’t help but side in favor of free speech.
There are quite a few books that I don’t like but probably an extremely few number I’d actually say should be banned or wiped from existence. All of these books I feel should be banned are generally related to the teaching and encouragement of abuse or harm toward others.
But isn’t even that a bit of a grey area? Where is the line between your personal belief system and what the school system or government should be able to control? I dislike Fifty Shades of Grey but I’d hardly petition to have it banned. I’d extremely dislike anything written by any hate group but rather than ban it I’d probably speak out against the very things they are trying to teach.
For the most part, read what you enjoy and don’t listen to those who would judge you for it. I might not understand how anyone would enjoy Fifty Shades of Grey, but I’ve been told the same after I enjoyed Twilight. For me reading is learning, I don’t accept anything as 100% truth in any book. It’s a way of opening doors to learn new things and change my entire way of seeing the way I see the world around me.
In summary does banning or censoring books or information even work? Would speaking louder than a negative message go further and do more? I believe it can. What do you think about banning books? Should school boards ban books based on religious or other preferences? What about more public places like libraries?
Find a whole list of banned books here.