Banned Books Week

From September 23 to 29, it’s Banned Books Week, which raises public awareness of challenged and banned books—in support of freedom to seek and express ideas. Challenges to books are mainly in schools, bookstores, and libraries. I actually forgot about this week, until a blogger, Jeri Walker, posted about it on her blog.

U.S. Book Banning History

During the 1600s, book burning was the way of censorship. In 1873, the Comstock Law was passed, also referred to as “Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use.” It criminalized using the U.S. Postal Service for “erotica, contraceptive, abortifacients, sex toys, personal letters alluding to any sexual content or information, or any information regarding the above items. The Act not only restrained the distribution of pornography but also the spread of medical journals that held subsequent information regarding contraceptives and abortion.

Banning books became more prevalent in the 20th century as authors didn’t refrain from opinions about controversial subjects. In the 1920s, Boston began censoring novels like An American Tragedy, A Farewell to Arms, and Strange Interlude. This tipped off local opposition, who complained about Boston’s repression of literary works, but Boston stated it was justified by the U.S. federal political system, where it was the duty of each state to implement their own educational policies. Today, parents and school boards continue to challenge state selections on particular books because they deem the content inappropriate.

Books aren’t necessarily banned, per the first amendment, but controversial book subjects or those that don’t fit into the ‘norm’ of society are suppressed and don’t show up on bookshelves. This can happen through “threats of litigation by powerful interests, reviewers freezing out certain titles, or what happens most often is books are written off as conspiracy theory.

My Opinion About Literary Fiction vs. No Right to Publication

Some books are creative works of literary fiction. For instance, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. This book has been banned various times and in recent years, has seen a rewrite to remove the word “nigger” and replace it with “slave.” Well, first off, this is a historical fiction piece, written when the word “nigger” meant negro. This book reflects the times of early 19th-century Mississippi. Not only is it a mistake to ban because some are offended by the word or think it reflects racism, but it wipes out Twain’s reasoning for putting the word in which is to embody the violence of slavery. The point of books is to provide readers with different periods and ideas. This is one instance where I found myself disgusted that a writer’s words were changed to boost a book’s popularity and help teachers deal with its subject matter.

Then there are books that are not only controversial, but have no right to be published, like The Pedophile’s Guide To Love & Pleasure by Phillip R Greaves II. This book should have never been published. Banning the book isn’t about emotions, but legality and mental illness. Pedophilia is a sickness and a crime, which affects hundreds of thousands of children each year. It should not be glorified or even visible.

Challenged or Banned Books of 2017 (From the ALA Site)

What are your thoughts on Challenged and Banned Books?  

Prohibit and Freedom,
Baer Necessities

4 thoughts on “Banned Books Week

  1. People will get up in arms over any sort of content. One of my FB friends was criticizing a microbiology teacher for assigning students to write their obituary. Most people on the thread jumped on the bandwagon of it was a totally unrelated assignment to the class and that in this age of responsible suicide prevention, it’s not proper to have students contemplate their demise. My best guess is the teacher is going to use it as a lead in to point out most students let themselves live long lives and didn’t throw cancer, etc. in the mix. It’s a great assignment for a jumping off point on the cell, which is the basic unit of life. Just today, I read a post on how various artists are no longer singing songs that may be deemed of a sexually harassing or offensive nature. I have really mixed feelings about that. A song is not reality. I’m all for justice and rights, but fiction is fiction is fiction is fiction and it can teach us a lot about all walks life.

    1. Jeri, that actually sounds like an interesting assignment. I think parents don’t look at the broader picture. If it was something promoting suicide, I can understand the craziness, but it isn’t. It’s actually a good lesson that could easily venture into hereditary diseases, food intake, etc.

      I can see some song lyrics being tamed down. Ever since grunge, lyrics have become angry with a lot of hatred in them. You go back to the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, and you don’t find so much anger in songs. They might be about a political issue but they’re more about bringing it to light, bringing awareness to it. To me, music speaks to people, so I think songs probably influence people more than books. I don’t have any actual evidence to back this claim, but it’s just from what I see.

      From afar, I’m watching America implode. Everyone is offended by everything, protesting, demanding firing over words, or things that happened decades ago. It just needs to stop. People need to stop focusing on others and bring the focus to themselves. We all can be better people, so pointing the finger at others is counter-productive. Besides, if people were focused on becoming better inside and out, they wouldn’t have time to judge anyone else. To me, it’s just sad.

  2. My first novel, Scoosh, has been refused shelf space in my local library and was also refused a review on the local radio station. No reason as yet volunteered by the library-nine years and counting-but the radio manager said it was because of certain content. When I called in to remonstrate with him he wasn’t there but the girl at the desk told me everyone at the station had read the book and had enjoyed it.
    Scoosh is a coming of age piece which involves sexual curiosity among the mostly fourteen year olds and is limited to peer to peer so I don’t understand the guy’s problem with it at all, unless of course he was still playing with lego bricks at that age.
    Sorry for banging on.

    1. Angus, that is lousy. The least someone could do is explain their reasoning. But still, it’s censorship. And the radio-station? Is it a Christian radio station. Why not review it? It would be smart of them to review it, so they can inform others of the content if they want. Sorry to hear about these refusals. Hope you haven’t run into censorship issues with your other books. Take care.

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