Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Ban This

The idea of banning books is something that infuriates the hell out of me especially in these modern times.

In the days when religious freedoms were threatened, books that allowed people to explore new ideas and beliefs were banned lest someone actually think for themselves.
Now, I would hope that thinking for yourself would be encouraged and celebrated.
Of course, a lot of people rely on the media to tell them what to think but for those of us with half a brain we love those books that challenge our beliefs and ideas.

There was a man, Anthony Comstock, who felt it was his duty to rid the world of lewd, indecent and obscene materials from the hands of impressionable Americans in 1872.
His slogan was "Morals, not art and literature" as if you couldn't have all.
This was nearly 150 years ago. Shouldn't we be beyond banning arts and literature? Shouldn't we embrace ideas?

There are two debates going on right now that have caught my attention.
First, there is a father in Conroe, Texas that wants Fahrenheit 451 to be removed from the high school reading list.
His daughter complained about the book to her father because it contained "cussin" and a scene about "the burnin of the Bible". (Imagine all of that in a very hick accent because that's how I heard it in my head)

In the complaint filed against the school by Alton Verm, he listed each objected item line by line, complete with individual page numbers. Besides bad language and violence, Verm lists "downgrading Christians" and "talking about our firemen" as reasons the book should be banned.

It's obvious that this man went through the book, but did he read it? Is reading comprehension a part of the equation here?
Yeah, he saw the curse words and the Lord's name being taken in vain but did he actually GET the purpose of the story?

This is like all the people who are out to ban the Harry Potter books. Why? Because it talks about magic and witchcraft.
Apparently, the theme of the book being that Harry and his friends make the choice to work on the side of good instead of evil when evil SURE looks tempting completely slides past people like Laura Mallory, who is complaining that Harry Potter is attempting to lure children into the Wiccan religion.

Did these people actually read the Harry Potter books? I'm thinking not.
I have a feeling if they actually read it with an open mind (that's a lot to ask for, I know) they would see that the books actually teach children to shun "evil" and always pick the side of good.

Book banning stems from fear. The fear of ideas different from their own. The fear that someone or something more intelligent just MIGHT be influencing their children.

But ideas are scary. Hopes and dreams of something bigger, something MORE in life are simply frightening.

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