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Bring On Banned Books

literati_rain66 Monday, September 20, 2010
As a lot of you book-folk know, Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson is being challenged. It could become a "Banned Book". This has sparked a whole uproar about censorship and banning books. I was just writing up a little something for a friend, and it got my passionate side all worked up. I'm going to continue my thoughts here. 

The concept of "banning" books baffles me. As a woman, as a knowledge seeker, a Christian, and a human. What is the purpose for banning books? Well, in my opinion, it's a small-minded way to prohibit discovery. There are books that I consider inappropriate. There are books that I've closed and never opened again due to graphic content, horrifying acts, etc. But do I have any right to ban other people from reading them? No. Do I have any right to say, "You shouldn't read this book because I was uncomfortable with it"? No. I can say what I think about a book, and I do, but it's not my right to make that choice for YOU.

I believe it is a parent's responsibility to monitor their child's reading. Boundaries and limits are perfectly good in that situation. I don't think that means that parents should forbid their child from reading a book with "controversial" topics. Rather, I believe it's the parent's duty to discuss that book with their child. A book is the perfect way to open up an honest conversation with your child about tough issues. Read what your kid reads. Talk about it with them. Help them to understand right and wrong and fact from fiction. Talk about the "gray areas".

As the great Atticus Finch says (in a banned book, no less) - "There's a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep 'em all away from you. That's never possible."

There ARE a lot of ugly things in this world. And as a parent, I completely understand wanting to shield your child, protect them. But that's not possible. So what do you do instead? Well. My answer is to educate them. You can't hide, ban, or demolish the evil in the world. But you can prepare you child for it, teach them how to respond. And a good way to start that is by doing it yourself. Educate yourself.

On a different track, I have an issue with Christians being the ones to "ban" books. Just wait a second. Isn't forbidding some other person from reading a book you disagree with a whole lot like Christians being persecuted way back when for believing something that others didn't? Newsflash: There will always be somebody who doesn't agree with you. It seems awfully two-faced to be telling people that they can't read something or believe something because you don't like it. Also? Read the Bible. What other book has more promiscuity, blood, deceit, etc. than the Bible? Should we ban the Bible too? I mean, it does talk about prophets, witches, dream interpretation, prostitution, seeing the future, and people doing bad, bad things. But if you get right down to it, it's telling a story. It's telling a story that has a lesson. Many lessons, in the case of the Bible. Many lessons, in the case of To Kill a Mockingbird.

In my opinion, what you read, what you watch, what you believe, and what you do... they are all choices that you, yourself have to make. And because I love it so much, another quote from Mr. Finch: "The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."

To return to the inspiration for this post, Speak, you should read it. I am proud to say I own this book. Please take the time to read the synopsis here if you haven't read Speak yet.

I ask you, why would you want to ban this book? It seems to me that this is a book that a victim could use in their own recovery. At the very least, it can spread awareness of abuse, the victims, and how a victim might react.

Speak is being challenged because it is "soft porn". Let me clarify something for you- Rape Is Not Pornography. Speak certainly didn't glorify rape. And I will be so bold as to say I think you're stupid if you really think that a victim's tale of rape is the same thing as porn. How anybody could interpret a heart-breaking tale of sexual abuse as porn.. I will never know. Way to make victims feel even worse.To any victims out there, you are not alone, and it's not your fault. You are not a bad person, you are not "dirty" or "used goods". A woman should never be seen or treated as a sexual object. You are a victim and a survivor.

From Laurie's Twitter: @halseanderson I've spoken to more than half a million students about SPEAK. In EVERY school, there was a kid who came up to me in tears. #speakloudly

I am not the only blogger blogging about this today. (Or this week, month, etc.)  If you are one of those folks joining me in the Speak Loudly campaign, please leave the link to your post in a comment.

Comments and opinions are always welcome. Thank you for reading my thoughts.

Speak Loudly Posts by other authors and bloggers:
Mindi Scott
Andrea Cremer 
The Pirate's Bounty 
Rachel Bateman
Kate Edwards
Random Ramblings 
Mindful Musings 
Michelle Hodkin 
Jeaniene Frost
Read Between The Lines Book Club
Aine's Realm -- powerful statistics!
Novel Thoughts 
Read What You Know


Katie Edwards said...

I agree entirely with what you're saying. It makes me so angry that those who call for "Speak" to be banned are more upset by the idea of high school students reading about horrible issues - written well and sensitively - than experiencing them first hand.

Dara said...

Thank you for posting this! You said it much more eloquently than I could. It always saddens me when it's a Christian who comes out and demands this; it makes us all look like we're narrow-minded and intolerant. I'm a fairly conservative Christian--there are many books I won't read or have put down because of graphic content--but I would never force that on someone.

Anyway, thanks again for this post!

Sandy said...

Great post Shannon :) I'm all glassy eyed.

Jessie Andersen said...

Good thoughts!
Here are mine:

Maggie said...

Great post, Shan. Reading this gave me a little pang in my heart.

stormywriting said...

VERY well put, Shannon.

And amen to rape not being porn. It's the absolute furthest thing from it. As long as we keep making that connection, it does more damage than just blaming and demeaning victims - it makes rape "okay".

Anonymous said...

Speak saved me during middle school and high school when I was recovering from a sexual assault that I never told anyone about. Speak gave me courage. It steeled me and grounded me, and kept me from the darker paths I might have taken in my recovery. It's one of the most important books I've ever read, and the thought that other girls might be prevented from reading it breaks my heart.

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