I’m a couple of days late but it’s Banned Books Week!
I’ve always been a big supporter of Banned Books Week, partly because education and education reform have always been my biggest sticking points and frequently cause me to want SO badly to be in politics (when normally I would hate it). Literature is also the one place where, much to Kevin’s delight, I am staunchly libertarian-minded. I firmly believe that people, including (or perhaps especially) children should be able to read what they want. I grew up reading Judy Blume and Harry Potter so I guess it came as a shock to me when I got older and found out that all over the place, people were trying to prevent others from enjoying literature. I think it’s awful that people think that they can suppress art because it supposedly supports or even just depicts what they deem to be immoral.
I know the biggest argument is that we’re trying to PROTECT THE CHILDREN, but I think the best protection is education. You can tell a child that a book does contain sexually explicit material, or that there are certain values that may or may not line up with the values you want them to have. But I think that is exclusively the responsibility of the parents. I feel like banning a book is just the easy way out – it saves you from having to talk to your child about difficult issues, sure – but it’s irresponsible! I’m very attuned to the idea of poverty making it difficult for parents to keep up with everything their children read, but there’s a difference between wanting to provide for your family and lazy parenting. I think of all things parents should play an active role in a child’s relationship with literature.
And to answer the traditional BBW question, if I could save only one book from a mass burning, I’d save the Bible. Not so much because of the religious aspect (although I do think it’s important to preserve religious literature) but because you can derive so many separate stories from it.