Hey everyone. Padfoot and Prongs here bringing you a very special post in honor of National Banned Books Week sponsored by The American Library Association.
All week long we will be bringing you various posts highlighting some of our favorite aspects of ‘Banned Books’ including special editions of Tattoo Tuesday and our new weekly Literary Caption contest. We encourage everyone to participate in those posts; we also hope that you will join the buzz in various media outlets such as other blogs, twitter, and media articles that have tons more interesting and entertaining sides to this controversial story.
At the end of the week we will be compiling a round up of ‘Banned Book’ links including blog posts, videos, and lists to share with everyone. If you have come across an interesting read this week, re-discovered a banned book that you previously disregarded, or wrote a kick-ass blog posts on the subject:...we want to hear from you!! So feel free to leave any and all links in the comments, our twitter page, or our e-mail and we will be sure to link back to you!
Now, to kick this week off we bring you a short, sloppy, yet sentimental little essay by Prongs discussing the importance of the relationship between banned books and readers, as well as readers and their superiors (parents, teacher, what have you). Hope this gets you in the mood to go pick up a banned book for yourself... or at the very least discuss one!
"Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom."~Alfred Whitney Griswold.
At the risk of losing a potential advantage at winning ‘America’s Next top Model’ I will admit to you all that I had a fairly decent childhood. In fact I would say that it was down right amazing. My home was filled with laughter, love, and fortunately for me, literature; I was truly blessed to have parents that not only taught me to love all things literary but more importantly, taught me to think for myself. Our home was filled with dialogue about a range of topics in movies, literature, even notes from friends, with the notion could never be so disgusting or controversial that it was not worth discussing.
Unfortunately not everyone in America grew up at my house.
As an advocate for “Banned Book Week’, I am here to admit to something I find much more dangerous than pure censorship, that is censorship with out reasoning. The other day I heard a really poignant metaphor on S.V.U. about the dangers of restricting children. They likened it to ‘showing them a swimming pool full of other people having fun then barring them from participating'. Then as mentors we expect them not to dive in head first when our backs are turned, to see for themselves what all the fuss is about. Even worse than the idea of showing them the pool would be to ignore the pools existence all together. What will happen the day that child discovers this pool all on their own? They will drown.
This figurative pool is not unlike the banned books being discussed during the events of this week. What's the old saying... 'because I said so... that's why?' Even worse than telling a child they are prohibited to do something, is denying them with the dogmatic rules of a God with out the perspective or concern to at least give a good reason. So it goes with literature. Tell someone that a book is banned is one thing, not bothering to discuss the reasons why is another. This idea of suppressing discussion and inquisitive thoughts will eventually build up enough pressure to crack the damn of mental ignorance in any mind given enough time. Then all the unfortunate individual, country, or species will be left with is a flood of information and no resources to help decide right from wrong.
It should come as no shock to any of you that I am a devoted, die-hard fan of the literary sensation that is Harry Potter, however it might come as a shock
to a few of you to learn that Harry Potter has been on countless ‘banned books’ lists all across the world. ‘Witchcraft, sorcery, blasphemy’ – all words that once ignited a feud so disheartening to readers that many parents forbid their children to pickup the books with out bothering to read what it was they were outlawing. This idea of banning with out reading, or even banning with out discussion is where I feel the genuine terror at the heart of this week lies. To think that a book whose message focuses solely on virtue, friendship, and the undying magic of love could be disregarded with out rational discussion or explanation is truly frightening.
As a blogger I believe that I have a responsibility to others and to myself to be as open and honest about the books I review as I can possibly be. As parents, teachers, and humans, we all have the responsibility and fortunately the right to discuss ideas freely amongst each other, with out fear of repercussions. That is with the exception of many children worldwide; as minors, many children are not allotted the voice to speak and discuss from themselves. Our literary world was built on ideas that challenge the ordinary; our country was built on ideas that challenged the expected. What part of our diverse and rebellious history has taught us that repressing ideas is going to work out for the best? Imagine the not so unimaginable idea that there are pieces of information that the government has decided for our own best interest to keep from us. No discussion, no reasoning, but they do us the service of letting us known there is something we are being kept from. Would this sit right with you? I hope not because it would make me mad as hell. It would make me even madder plenty of others out there discussing the secret just behind a door that I can see.
It is not so much the idea of censorship that I am against, but more so that the idea ‘ignorance is bliss.’ Not many disagree that there are certain things that children should be sheltered from at any given age, and even fewer will disagree that there is ‘art’ and then ‘shock value posing as art’. But no one should be under the impression that the way to handle these types of situations is by ignoring the subjects at all costs. We are not discussing parents stopping their child from seeing an R rated movie, we are not discussing a teacher restricting overtly provocative art in a classroom. We are discussing bans on literature. A ban means a total 'prohibit especially by legal means or social pressure' of a book, an author, and idea. Bans mean ignorance. Ignorance is hell.
To this day I maintain that I grew up to be the introspective, rational, curious person that I am today as a direct result of my freedom to explore and discuss literature as a child. Sure I had to wait to see 'Scream' until I was 15, and sure I had to look up the definition of 'nigger' when I first read 'To Kill A mocking Bird'. Luckily what I never had to do was feel afraid to question and grow through literature and all of the controversial ideas that come with it.
So go ahead. Take a swim in the proverbial pool of literature. There is an ocean of information out there just waiting to be shared, discussed, and even potentially prohibited if the situation warrants it. Just make sure you encourage others as well as yourself to never stop questioning and discussing the ideas that will arise when you surface. After all… books are old, the idea to burn them, even older. Fortunately the ideas and discussions that stem from these books will continue to ignite our world long after we are gone.