Saturday, October 2, 2010

Banned Books Week

As today is the last day of Banned Books Week, I am a bit late with this post but decided to go ahead and write it anyway.

Plenty of famous, classic books have been banned.  You have all heard of them and hopefully read at least some of them, perhaps without even knowing that they were banned, so instead I am going to post a link to banned graphic novels.

I can't say that I am surprised that any of these books have been banned or deemed objectionable.  What makes me wonder, even if it does not outright surprise me, is the grounds listed for the objection.  Almost all of the objections listed in this particular article are related to sex and/or nudity.

It continues to fascinate me that the standard objection to "objectionable" material is sex and nudity. Sex and "smut" are going to stunt and warp our children, but violence is not? Is that how it works? Take Batman, for example. Even as the hero of our story, he's pretty dark and violent, nevermind his various nemeses. There is some serious violence and emotional torment and trauma running through those story lines, but the objection comes from the sexual content? I don't think that I will ever understand why naked people are scandalous.

Is the conservative readership really that shallow?  Is it really the sex and nudity that is the problem?  Or is it the idea of literature in various forms that challenges the accepted norm (why it is accepted and how it is deemed normal is a whole other discussion) and sex is just an easy out so that the objectors don't have to think and come up with a thoughtful, reasoned argument.  After all, they apparently don't want others to think.

In my world, it comes down to personal responsibility and choice.  There is plenty of writing out there to which I object, and I am perfectly within my rights to do so.  Simply because I object to it or even find it offensive, however, doesn't mean that it shouldn't be written or published or read.  Therefore I make the choice to not read it.  There are plenty of books I read which many would find objectionable, and I try to be sensitive to the fact that my tastes may not even appeal to friends with whom I discuss and share books.  Some things I keep entirely to myself.  Others I share only in limited circles.  Still others I feel safe sharing or recommending far and wide, but even from within that feeling of safety, I expect anyone who might take me up on my recommendation to make the final choice for themselves.  If I recommend a book to kids, I expect parents to be paying attention to what their kids are reading.

If you read something you don't like or find offensive or makes you uncomfortable, by all means close the book.  Put it down.  Walk away.  Voice your opinion.  Speak up about what you don't like about it and why.  Just please don't close your mind at the same time.

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