This week is Banned Books Week. It’s the week when you can support the freedom to read anything you like by reading books that have often been challenged for various reasons by parents, religious groups, and so on. They want to ban these books from bookstores, public libraries, and schools. I’ve read quite a few banned books, considering that the entire fantasy genre is quite blasphemous according to many religious groups. The book I’m reading now has most definitely been challenged for many reasons, including violence, adult themes (nudity, sex), religious reasons (polytheistic religions, magic, something that could be considered Satanic), and offensive language. George R. R. Martin sure can piss off many people.
So, for this post, I’m not censoring myself at all. Expect some language, but nothing sexual. And I’ll be very blunt about what I think about the people who want to ban these books.
Let’s look at the reasons why people want to ban books.
Sexually explicit. This is pretty obvious. I can understand it not being allowed in schools, considering it’s not age appropriate. Little kids can be spared this kind of thing. But libraries and bookstores? No damn way. To be honest, I’ve known quite a bit about sex since I was pretty young. You can thank the Encyclopedia! Ooh, let’s ban the Encyclopedia now. Go into a school library and find an Encyclopedia. I bet it has entries on sex, reproductive organs, and so on. Oh, and for those prude people, sex isn’t offensive. It’s natural. It’s a fact of life. I won’t shield my kids from what sex is. I’ll be honest if they ask, and I won’t try to hide the truth.
Offensive language. Fuck that shit, you assholes. There are classic books with swear words, you know. They’re read in school. I’ve read books with swearing in school. No one cared. Really. We didn’t giggle. You know why? Kids learn swear words from an early age. They hear it from their parents, they hear it outside, they hear it from friends, TV, movies. It’s everywhere. They understand what it means, they understand they’re not good words to use in polite company. Honestly, I don’t care. What’s important is that parents try limit their swearing around their kids. Parents are the most important role models, and kids will emulate their parents.
Violence. This is very common for action oriented books. But I’d say violence in TV and movies is more influential because kids can see it. In books, it can be described explicitly, but it’s often difficult to imagine it clearly. Anyway, just as in TV, movies, and video games, this must be made clear to kids that the violence isn’t real and should not be reproduced. Again, it’s parental responsibility.
Unsuited for age group. Yes, I can see this one easily. An elementary school kid won’t read Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s up to the school to put age appropriate books in the school library. But in a public library and bookstore, it’s the parents’ responsibility to keep their kids away from more adult books. It also depends on the maturity of the kid. I was pretty mature for my age, so a lot of more adult books, TV shows, and movies didn’t affect me as much as many of my peers.
Nudity. I’m pretty liberal-minded, open, and a free-thinker. Nudity shouldn’t be an issue. It’s religious groups and the media that sexualise nudity. Nudity isn’t sexual. Nudity is the default for the human body. Animals are naked. They aren’t aroused because they see other naked animals. A lot of tribes in the Amazon or in Africa have no problems with nudity. Naturist groups don’t view nudity as sexual. That’s because it isn’t sexual. Nudity doesn’t corrupt youth. I think if kids could see just how the human body is more often, there’d be fewer problems with rape, body image, and self-esteem.
Drugs/alcohol/smoking. I’m against drugs and smoking, but they’re a reality. Alcohol is fine in moderation. There are some ways to show how they can be bad in literature by showing the effects. Isn’t that a positive way to use them? But I think that books aren’t likely to influence people to takes drugs or start smoking. It’s far more likely that other people will influence. Books aren’t the problem here, it’s the people.
Racism. I’d like to mention one book here that I read in school, To Kill a Mockingbird. This was a book about racism. Let’s ban this one? I don’t think so. It was against racism. It was also required reading in school. I wasn’t very impressed with it back then, but that’s because we had to read it. If I’d chosen to read it, I think I’d have enjoyed it more. Anyway, since racism is still a big issue, it’s important to bring up the subject. Books are a great way to show the negative effects of racism.
Homosexuality. Another hot topic. This is mostly a problem to religious groups. And I have this to say: get over it. Homosexuality has been around for as long as humans have. It exists in wild animals. It is natural. Yes, natural. It’s not a choice, it’s not a decision. I’m happy to see homosexuality in books. It needs to be represented. And shielding your children from it will do more harm than good. They’ll become prejudiced against it. Again, parents need to be responsible here.
Religious viewpoint. One religious group tries to ban books from libraries and bookstores because it offends them. What about the other groups who aren’t offended? Aren’t you imposing your beliefs on others? I won’t tolerate that. You keep your religion out of other people’s freedom to read books. You don’t want your kids to read a book? Then it’s your responsibility. I don’t care what your religion is. No religious group has a right to prevent others from reading books. Go away.
And there you have it. You may agree or disagree with me, but if you are one of the people who wants books banned, then you are part of the problem. Don’t be a problem for others. Respect other people’s right to read what they want.
Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.