A little over a month ago I thought, “Ooh, I have just over a month before Banned Books Week. I’m going to get started now so I can have my posts all prepared.” I even posted on Facebook asking for suggestions. I say it was a little over a month ago . . . feels more like yesterday.
The point of all of this is that I was completely unprepared. So, sadly, I have not been doing my daily posts reviewing commonly banned and challenged books. If you’re interested, you can check out my posts from last year. There are 8 of them, but here’s the first.
All of that being said, I didn’t want Banned Books Week to end without writing at least a little bit about why this is important to me . . . and why I think it should be important to you.
It may not seem like that big of a deal. One could argue that if a certain book is banned from a particular school, library, or book store that it’s not difficult to find the book somewhere else. That’s mostly true. In the digital age, we have access to an exorbitant amount of information. You can find another library or book store or buy it online or hell, there are even online book swaps. But that misses the entire point.
There’s a line in the song “Books are Burning” by XTC that I think sums it up perfectly – “And you know where they burn books, people are next.” Banning books is about denying access to ideas, knowledge, opinions, stories, and thoughts. It’s about a belief that one person or one group deserves the right to decide what someone else can and cannot think and know. It’s done under the guise of protecting people, particularly children. But that’s not at all what it is. It’s about forcing personal views and morals on other people.
Whether or not there are ways around that is completely irrelevant because if it can be done with books, it can be done with other things as well. And if people think it’s okay to do with books then people will think it’s okay to do with other things. And that is where the loss of personal liberties begins.
I may not agree with you. I may not like what you have to say (or write). I may think your ideas are stupid or unethical or immoral. But I would never try to deny your right to say (or write) them or other people’s right to listen (or read) them.