History is full of instances of the destruction of knowledge, learning and books. From the destruction of the Library of Alexandria to the burning of books across Nazi Germany, groups that wanted to gain power over the general populace have always tried — and in some cases succeeded — in limiting people’s access to information. Even today, with the rise of the Internet, governments still try to suppress information, whether that is the banning of books or forbidding public education to discuss certain topics. Acts such as these are censorship and horrible violations of individuals’ rights for freedom of information.
The American Library Association has received thousands, if not more, complaints about the books that are available to the public and that is ridiculous. It is insane that people think that they are entitled to be able to be the morality police for those around them. I couldn’t care less if they think that their child should not be reading books that they don’t agree with, but under no circumstances, should they try and tell other people that they should not be allowed to read whatever they see fit. These are probably the same people that think the word “boomer” is a slur, so they most likely do not care about what other people think is fine. Many of the reasons why books are challenged or banned are because people believe these books — for example, those with LGBT themes — are “unsuited to [the] age group.” This essentially means that parents do not think that their children should be reading about these topics. Much to their parents’ dismay, some kids are drawn to these books. The novelty of themes that they are not regularly exposed to actually draws them in.
Growing up, I always loved reading fantasy — and I still do — but my father would never let me read the Harry Potter series, which is a series that is frequently complained about and has been banned in several areas for the Catholic Church’s claims that its “risk of conjuring evil spirits.” Even when being told not to read them, I still wanted to, and while I can’t say that reverse psychology works in all cases, if you tell a kid that they are not allowed to read about certain topics, then they are just going to want to learn about them even more.
Regan McMahon made an excellent point about banned books: “Today’s edgy is tomorrow’s classic.” The whole purpose of literature is to push against societal boundaries as to what is seen as the norm. Take Emily Dickinson’s writings for example. When she was alive, her work was criticized and hated for its sexual themes and “abnormal” ideas, but today, she is one of American literature’s most well-known and beloved poets. Good literature is supposed to make you question what society has taught us to think, and if an author’s books are complained about and threatened to be banned, then they succeeded in pushing that boundary.
Photo: P. Tomasso