Banned Books Week (September 30-October 6, 2012)

Book banning is something I’ve never been able to understand.  The issue probably just boils down to a matter of trust.  If the reader doesn’t understand or disagrees with a book, or portion thereof, will they go to someone they trust to discuss the ideas expressed?  Or will they think that because they disagree with the author then others should be “protected” from the book?

I was reading almost anything I could get my hands on from an early age.  For example, I started reading Louis L’Amour in the 5th grade and attempting Nikolai Tolstoy’s The Quest for Merlin and John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress in the 10th grade (not that I got much from Tolstoy’s and Bunyan’s books  at the time and haven’t revisited them).  My brother was reading Tolkien in Jr and Sr High School as well as comic books, etc.  Our parents trusted that my brother and I would come to them if we had a problem with something we read and, likewise, we trusted them to talk to us as individuals who could comprehend the material and come to an intelligent decision about it after reading and discussing the issue.

In a week and a half is the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week.  According to the Banned Books Week site, 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 and in 2011 alone there were over 326 books challenged.  These challenges to books occur in schools, libraries, and bookstores.  I think ignorance, lack of alternative points of view, and fear of ideas are more dangerous than knowledge, doubt or questioning, and communication.

“If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all—except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.”  -J.F. Kennedy

“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.”  ~Voltaire

I think reading a variety of books is a brilliant idea and if a person disagrees with an author, so be it.   A reader is not required to agree with the complete or partial contents of a book, merely use it to start a respectful discussion with others.  Who knows, the reader may learn something and by thinking, learning, and questioning could lead others or be led to great discoveries.  “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” (Roosevelt) is an important concept to keep in mind when communicating, reading, and learning.

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