This week is banned books week. Hooray! I think this is an excellent thing. It brings the ideas of censorship, privilege, power, and fear to the forefront of our thinking and can make for some excellent conversations.
Some people seem to think that in 2015 this is now irrelevant. They think that either there isn’t censorship or they think you should ignore it and just work around it (check out Ruth Graham’s controversial piece in Slate). But what is that saying?
North America is not the whole world. And even still, as the saying goes, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. This isn’t just about books that are truly and actively banned. This is about the freedom of information and how privileged we are to have it. Not everyone does, and we certainly didn’t always.
The point is not to rank inflammatory books like game highlights. It’s to remind readers that information hasn’t always been free, and that we have librarians to thank for its freedom. (Huffington Post)
This is something we need to keep celebrating and actively work toward maintaining. This isn’t something that just happens. This is something that people have to strive to keep up.
It’s thanks to the work of organizations such as the ALA, which equips librarians and teachers dealing with challenges with advice and legal services. They do the behind-the-scenes work that ensures challenges don’t turn into bans; that they’re successful in this is a very important thing worth celebrating, and, yes, publicizing. (Huffington Post)
And even still, even in 2015, this can still be an issue! It’s not quite as pressing as it once was, or as it still is in some places, but that doesn’t mean it is nonexistent. From the National Coalition Against Censorship, here are five stories of censorship in this day and age!
As you can tell from most challenges and most instances we hear of, these are things going on in schools. These are parents and others concerned about what their children are being exposed to. Honestly, I think that to some extent, this is a valid concern. That being said, I think this only applies to your own children.
Censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but unlike charity, it should end there. ― Clare Booth Luce
I think that parents have every right to a say in what their children read and are exposed to. They are the parents! But as far as schools go, you do not have a say in what other children read and are exposed to. If you object to some material, then I’m sure the school will offer an alternative. And while I’d hope that any challenge and objection was made with thoughtful, careful, and detailed consideration, I know that this is not always the case. But either way, parents have that right.
Whether or not actual book banning is an immediate issue for you, it is something we should reflect on. Are you free to read? Be grateful. That is a privilege not every has or has always had. Celebrate it.
What are your thoughts on Banned Books Week and censorship?
Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.