My attitude about books is:
If you don’t approve of a book, then don’t read it. Don’t let your kids read it. Tell other family members and friends:
“Don’t read it.”
But do not – DO NOT – tell me I can’t read it.
And do not – DO NOT – tell the world that they can’t read it.
“What,” I want to ask these people, “gives you the right to tell me what I can and cannot read?”
Who are “these people”?
They’re individuals, parents, religious groups, organizations and politicians.
They’re people who have decided that their beliefs are the only acceptable beliefs, and any books that don’t echo their beliefs should be removed from schools, universities and public libraries.
If they had their way, these books would be banned from bookstores.
If they had their way, these books would never be printed.
Many of these people take the step of “challenging” books they don’t approve of.
That means, according to the American Library Association (ALA), a “formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that the materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.”
The ALA tracks the challenges and publishes an annual list of challenged and banned books:
Here are definitions:
“A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials.”
The challengers don’t limit their objections to books – they also go after any library materials including magazines and DVDs, and services like public programs featuring authors whose books they object to.
And the reasons they object are varied: the stories have gay or transgender themes; sorcery themes; “vulgarity and sexual overtones”; “goes against family values/morals”; “encourages disruptive behavior”; addresses teen suicide; for its religious viewpoint; for leading children to “want to have sex or ask questions about sex”; has an offensive political viewpoint; and is “disgusting and all-around offensive.”
And it’s not enough that people challenge these books and sometimes get them removed from libraries and schools. The words “relocated restricted, and hidden” also appear, and – to my horror – burning:
Do the above look familiar?
Nazi book burning, Germany, 1933:
And – no coincidence, considering who’s in the White House – the number of targeted books is increasing, according to the ALA:
If you value your freedom and oppose censorship, there are all sorts of suggestions online about how to oppose book banning, and they’re all good.
But you can also oppose book banning right in the comfort of your own home.
And here’s what: