Lovin’ The Haters: Reflections On Banned Books

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

So as you may know, we have recently experienced Banned Books Week. This amazing invention of free speech celebrates the books which are, quite simply, too good. The event highlights books banned in school libraries across the country for their “inappropriate” content. The ranks of these books include the likes of To Kill A Mockingbird, Catcher In The Rye, The Freedom Writers’ Diary and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Genius, right, banning these works from our educational system?

What really gets at me is what they’re banned for. Mockingbird was outlawed due to racism found in the book. Same with Huck Finn. Catcher In The Rye was removed due to “obscenity”. Even the Hunger Games trilogy was banned because it’s apparently anti-family and insensitive.

Oh, yeah, and Harry Potter is Satanist.

Now, I’m not saying I like any of those things. Everything listed there is a pitfall of humanity, proven as such time and again. (I should specify that there’s nothing more “wrong” about following Satanism than there is about following anything else. Sorry, Satanists, for the scare.)

But that doesn’t mean they’re off-limits. In fact, allow me to go on a bit of a tirade.

There is no more unbelievably stupid thing to do than censoring content involving what a person is most afraid of. That gives it time to ferment around the edges of life, to multiply in the minds of students who only know the content to be “banned” and nothing more. Banning content that isn’t what one wants to be heard is like telling students they can’t experience life. If they can’t read about racism, they can’t be anything but oblivious to the racism surrounding them. If they don’t learn what it means to be anti-family, they can’t appreciate what it means to have a family.

History will only repeat itself if we do not know it came in the first place.

Racism and obscenity and insensitivity and everything else we’ve gone through will come back sooner than later if we don’t realize the tools with which to prevent it.

Now, at my high school, I am privileged to have a FANTASTIC librarian, one who celebrates Banned Books Week publicly and displays the offending literature up-front for everyone to see, yellow police tape and everything. She and I were talking a few days ago, and one of my little pet dreams came up.

I would absolutely LOVE IT if my novel is banned. Somewhere. Just one place. For two reasons.

First and foremost, it means I’m doing something right. All of these aforementioned novels were banned because they brought up some aspect of life which is undesirable. They spoke of those things we’re afraid to speak of, those which are most important to discuss. The novels were real, true, and that’s what got them banned. If my novel is banned, that means I did my job as a writer and accomplished everything I wanted to–to provide a real, down-to-Earth look at life from the side less spoken for. If they censor me, that means my messages hit home.

Second, though, and more ironically, banning books is exactly what gets people to read them. As head of the Freedom Writers, Erin Gruwell, says, “The best way to get a teenager to read a book is to ban it.” Banning a book, or censoring anything really, means that that thing contains something powerful. Something scary. Something the people in charge of you don’t want you to know. That makes people, especially young ‘uns, want to read censored material. Also, with such a big backlash against book-banning, a banned book is likely to show up across the nation in libraries like mine. That, combined with impassioned young Footloosian readers, make for a fantastic reading audience more than willing to trumpet the virtues of a Banned Book. Not to mention the enraged censurers screaming to the world, “DO NOT READ [novel x] BECAUSE IT IS NOT PURE AND INNOCENT AND PRE-CENSORED”.

Nothing better, eh?

Tell me in comments about your views on Banned Books–any good ones I missed? For or against banning? You tell me.

May you remain existential,

Evan

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2 thoughts on “Lovin’ The Haters: Reflections On Banned Books”

    1. Hey Rob,

      You make an excellent point. Indeed, the Bible has been banned in many places. However, the thing about Banned Books Week is that geographically, most Banned Books are concentrated within the Bible Belt and a very large number of them banned for reasons of religious irreverence. While I do agree that the Bible has had its fair share of persecution, this is often for very different reasons, such as the promotion of secularism in schools. Do I agree…no, of course not. But it’s kind of in a category all its own.

      May you remain existential,

      Evan

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