Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Thought Banned

It’s Banned Books Week.

Virginia Lee, over at her amazing blog wrote about it and included a few links like this one to the Forbidden Library.

It was fascinating, in a chilling way, to read the titles of books that have been banned or challenged.

The Nazis burned Jack London’s The Call Of The Wild. I really don’t know what to say about this beyond book burning is never right. I haven’t read it, but I don’t believe I’ve ever heard it was a danger to any society.

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell was banned at a California High School. It was challenged in Illinois due to its use of the word “nigger.”

Much as that word makes me shudder, it was in use when Mitchell wrote it and certainly in the time period in which her book is set.
It is reflective of the times and not using that word in proper context is a lie, plain and simple.
We can’t go around sanitizing everything because that's a lie, too. You can argue that fiction is lie if you like, but don’t bother doing it around me. The greatest truths are disguised as fiction.

Using the words appropriate to the times, especially those that make us cringe, shows us how much we’ve grown as a society.
If it doesn’t, then it shows us that we need to grow.

And in a lovely bit of irony Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury had its cuss words blacked out for school use.

Perhaps whoever did it was making a point as the book is about censorship and book burning. Somehow I don’t believe it’s the case.

At the top of the post I wrote about a book not being a danger to society. No book is a danger to any free and open society that is a democracy in practice as well as in name.

The only danger to society presented by books is they create and foster a society of thinkers. Who would want a world of intellectually curious critical thinkers?


Reb said...

I just had a quick read through that list - WOW! I have read or seen plays/movie adaptations of so many of those, I must be an awful person! I grew up on the Grimms Brothers Fairy Tales, have all of the Narnia series, maybe that is why I am so violent? ;}

I find it shameful that some of these are being banned in the last decade! I would have thought that as a society we had grown beyond the need to censor so stupidly. It is very ironic that the U.S. is leading the way in the censorship, the country whose laws allow freedom of speech and the press. I guess that doesn't apply to books!

It is as ridiculous as womens libbers insisting that the race of humans no longer be referred to as "man"! Wanting to update fairy tales, so that women are not victims, wanting to change the bible - yes, I can't remember where I read that right now, but change the bible!

There are so many other things wrong with society that need fixing. Banning or burning books is not going to help anything.

Oops, sorry, got a little carried away!

Leah J. Utas said...

Reb - You can get carried away here any time you like.

When I hear about censorship I sometimes wonder if we've forgotten the whole point of books and reading.

Virginia Lee said...

Thanks for the linkage, Leah. I'm very flattered.

And yeah, I get all het up about banned books. As a reader it ticks me off because I'm my own best judge, thanks, and perfectly capable of forming my own opinions. As a writer it makes me angry and a bit afraid. It's a few small steps from burning books to printing presses to houses to human beings.

Anonymous said...

The Bag Lady wants with all her heart to make a comment today, but someone snuck in during the night and took her brain. She swears it was there when she went to bed...
Hope it wasn't the people who are afraid to expose their children to Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn - especially if they plan to exchange hers for theirs. She'd sooner die than be that narrow-minded. (of course, they'd be getting the better deal...maybe...)

Leah J. Utas said...

Virginia Lee - It was my pleasure to link to you. I agree, burning books is a terrifying first step.

Bag Lady - I do hope your brain gets back soon. I can't handle the idea that it could be a swapped for a narrow-minded one.