Thursday, September 23, 2010

Censorship, concluded (finally)

I told myself I wasn't going to do it. After Monday, then Tuesday, and finally yesterday, I figured enough was enough.

But I just...couldn't...stop!

Okay, the preamble is done and I want to say censorship, whether in the form of suppressing newspapers, removing books from libraries or, heaven forbid, burning them, is bad. I understand keeping things age appropriate--no eight year old should be reading Speak, no matter how well-written it is. Besides the fact that he or she would not understand it, the child has not yet come to realize the true nature of the world, i.e. bad things, really bad things, can happen to anyone, but probably won't. When I was six, I firmly believed that every person lived exactly one hundred years and died on their birthdays. So, yes, there are some things that are inappropriate for an age range.

But burning Harry Potter for promoting witchcraft? Okay, the line? You left it in the dust two miles back. Despite what says, Harry Potter is a fantasy novel, plain and simple. Kids, even little kids, know that. True, they might imagine it to be real or have it firmly lodged into their mind that it is real for a short while, but rarely do they believe it is real. Children have the gift of an unencumbered imagination. They should be allowed to use it while they can.

Besides, does Harry Potter even have anything to do with witch craft, real or otherwise (Clarification: by "real" I mean Wicca and other earth-based religions; by "fake," I mean Satanism)? I don't think so. And no matter how much they love a book, most children aren't going to "live" it. True, it might open their minds to new possibilities, other ideas--ones you might not even like! Is that bad? No. No-no-no-no-no-no-no. Just no.

Reading a book rarely makes someone a communist-satanist-homosexual-socialist-liberal-conservative-progressive-whatever you have a problem with. And when it does? Usually because the deviance was already there in the first place. You really think John Lennon would not have been shot if Mark David Chapman hadn't read Catcher in the Rye? I assure you: he was as messed up before as he was after.

Powerful as they are, books are not, in themselves, violent. They can stir up violence, incite hatred, but the act has to be committed by a person, and that person will most likely be influenced by a lot more than a book. My influences include my parents, my siblings, my aunts and uncles, my teachers, my friends and many others, all appearing before any book does. Because these are the people who raised me, shaped me.

And that is the point of these last four days. Books are wonderful, magical tools to the imagination! They are scary, they are sexy, they are fun, they are boring, they are meaningful, they are forgettable. But you are the chief influence in anyone's life, friend or relative. So next time you hear about banning books, ask yourself: right or wrong about the content, is itreally a big deal?


  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog and voting!

    I think you make a great argument here. One of the things that is so important about fiction is that it helps kids to explore something that might be frightening, new, or different in a *safe* environment. You can always put that book down if it gets to be too much, but while you're reading, you enter a world where the rules are different, where bad or scary things happen (like they do in real life), but where the reader doesn't have to personally deal with the issues. Kids have extraordinarily active imaginations, and good books help to stimulate those imaginations. But any child over the age of seven can distinguish between fantasy and reality.

  2. Great post!
    I alway when will those so-called moral guardians ever learn that banning a book only gives it free publicity?


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