Thoughtful Thursday – Censoring and Banning Books

ddd1d199f7592b0d40e17ca5e1c877daEspecially 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.

13181d94ea0d7d81be6ea5a88685c4beFor 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.

 

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8 thoughts on “Thoughtful Thursday – Censoring and Banning Books

  1. Pingback: Weekly Wrap Up (5/4 – 5/10) | Glorious Panic

  2. I taught middle school for many years and was actually involved in situations where someone wanted books banned completely out of the library, or as a classroom novel. We have a review policy, which keeps the book on the shelves pending the decision, but often when a parent comes marching in, administration panics and pulls it right away. Then the librarian, who knows the policy, has to make them put it back. We never banned nor agreed to stop teaching with certain books. Even after the specific incident, students were not “warned” if they chose to check out a certain book or a teacher was presenting a book.
    A librarian friend of mine put it very well when she told me how kids self-censor in terms of readiness for content. If they hear of a book everyone is reading, most of them will jump for the book. But if they aren’t ready for sexual situations, bad language, or differing religious values they usually return it.
    Great post! My first visit to your blog, and I’ll be back. I came in through the Discussion Challenge Link Up.

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  3. I don’t believe in censoring books, even books that I find offensive or don’t agree with. I think your example of a Westboro Baptist Church is a great example. The things they do and say are really awful and harmful to people but they still have the right to publish a book if they want to. I wouldn’t recommend it to people, I wouldn’t buy it for someone, and I might even go around writing bad reviews about it, but it should still be allowed to exist.

    I do think that schools and parents have the right to filter what their kids read and make sure they’re reading things that are appropriate. Parents can do whatever they like, but schools need to be careful. You don’t want to kids to read inappropriate books but you have to make sure you’re not leaving out a book just because certain people don’t like it. It’s a thin line between being safe for children and going to far and banning something because a certain group dislikes it.

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  4. This is a great topic! The grey area is definitely the part where things get tricky. As a mom, I don’t want my kids to necessarily read anything they can get their hands on. And, while I do agree somewhat with Elizabeth’s point about kids self-censoring, I do also think that it wouldn’t hurt to inform kids about content so that they’re making informed decisions. As a kid, if you were engrossed in a book and ran across something that you didn’t think was exactly appropriate, did you put the book down? Um, I don’t think I did – once I started a book, I needed to finish it to find out what happened! Still, I definitely don’t agree with banning and I don’t think school libraries should have to remove books any time anyone complains about them – and informing students on content for ALL the books would get pretty impossible. So, I guess I just talked myself in a circle there. As a parent, I think the best thing you can do is pay attention to what your kids are reading (and doing) and talk things through with them!

    Oh, and I wouldn’t agree with completely banning ANY books. Totally agree with you there.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    • I was a bit the same way when I was growing up – I didn’t put down books with topics I didn’t understand. If anything it just made me ask a bunch of questions. I think with the right environment this is a great thing because it fosters growth and communication but the world isn’t always ideal. It’s an odd topic that I don’t think has a definite answer – every book is different and every adult or child is different so there can’t be a hard rule. Finding yourself going around in circles I think is fairly normal here! I agree though – the most important thing you can do is just have that presence and awareness of what your kids are doing/reading/watching. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  5. Pingback: Sunday Post & Giveaways Galore - 5/31/15 - Feed Your Fiction AddictionFeed Your Fiction Addiction

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