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Sorry, Larry, That Book’s Off-Limits – Try “When You Give a Pig a Pancake!”

September 28, 2010

Although I usually wouldn’t speak up about things of this sort, Banned Books Week is something I certainly couldn’t avoid talking about.

Yes, people want to ban books. Including Fahrenheit 451, which, I must say, seems highly ironic to me.

First of all, I highly approve of parents being aware of what their children are reading. There are books out there that I most definitely wouldn’t want my future kids to read. I respect that parents/guardians/teachers/etc. want a say as to what their kids are seeing/reading/hearing in the media (and in this case, books fall under media). I have guidelines of my own, and I always make an effort to read books that will uplift me/teach me/enlighten me, and that I’m comfortable with.

However, I don’t believe any group of parents/guardians/teachers/etc. should be able to determine which books people they don’t have relationships or bonds with, or any responsibility for, should read. Books are a form of art – are they going to bombard the Louvre now and put cardboard cut-outs of Elmo over paintings they personally aren’t okay with? Why not just look away? Why not just not read those books that they find inappropriate? Why not send a note to their kid’s English teacher, asking for a reassignment for their particular child? What gives them the right to decide what books I’m allowed to read? Can’t I look out for myself, and don’t my parents have the final say?

People should govern their own reading choices – or, in the case of teens and kids, their parents should have a say as well. I will protect myself from content that I think will make me uncomfortable/unhappy/feel dirty, and my parents will help. I like to think that if I wasn’t looking out for myself, my parents would take on a larger role in this case (and they would. As it is, they trust me). There are books I’m not okay with. But does that mean that Madeleine Rex should tell people she doesn’t know that they’re prohibited?

Is it my job to tell Larry that he can’t read Harry Potter, but, hey, dude, try When You Give a Pig a Pancake?

No. It’s not. It’s Larry and his mommy’s job to determine whether or not Harry Potter is okay with them. Let them argue amongst themselves. It’s not my business, because I’ve only known Larry for the ten seconds it took to see him with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in his hand and declare that Larry is not allowed to read it.

The crazy thing is, I have learned wonderful lessons and been made incredibly happy by some of the books on the list of books people would like banned. Some have taught me how to be a better person, or how to confront adversaries, to stand on my own, to fight for what I believe, and to treat other people as well as I possibly can. Some of those books have brought me happiness in unique ways that no other books could have. Some of them are special to me.

Why would I want them banned when they could affect others in possibly wonderful ways as well?

On the other hand, there are books that I would never read. But that’s for me to decide, based on my personal beliefs and feelings.

In the end, censorship is something that I believe people should be personally responsible for. (Or the people personally responsible for them should be responsible for.) Read what you believe will make you happy or feel satisfied. Read because words are undoubtedly one of the most powerful things on the planet, and stories and books can affect you in wonderful ways you can hardly imagine.

Again: Read what you think will make you happy. Determine for yourself whether a book is for you or not. Free agency is a gift. Books have a power over you – they can inspire you to be a better or worse person. They can make you happy or upset. Don’t underestimate them.

Love what you’ll love, dislike what you will, and let others do the same.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Dominique permalink
    October 14, 2010 4:49 PM

    After all we are a free country!

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