Thursday, September 29, 2011

Banned Books Week Day 6: Can a book turn you EVIL?

When you think of a banned book, what do you think of?

Is it one banned for being sexually explicit? Violent? Full of questionable language? Anti-government/democracy/authority?

Or do you think of Harry Potter and Twilight?

I think we notice books that are banned for including the "occult" or "religious reasons" a bit more than others.  Perhaps it is because its harder to defend books full of violence, swearing, or racism wholeheartedly.  In the long run, we don't want our children to be violent, swearing, or racist.  While most of the books we like to stand up for on during Banned Books week are truly wonderful; we know there is bad stuff out there.  Pornagraphic violence.  Just plain pornography.  Hurtful, awful propaganda.  Harder to stand up for that stuff, isn't it?

It's not hard to stand up for Harry Potter if you're not afraid of witchcraft.  If you are afraid of witchcraft, then the work is insufferable.  This is a subject that is very US (we free-speech loving bookish types) versus THEM (those people, the kind that don't like witches and try to ban books with them.)

I'm not going to convince any of "them" as much as I'd like to.  People who would ban Twilight don't care that Stephanie Meyer is a devout Mormon and that the themes of that book are based on monogamy and marriage more than demon worship.  People who would ban Harry Potter hear the word "witchcraft" and don't really care to hear the rest, that the books are religiously neutral.  That JK Rowlings considers herself a (struggling) Christian.

You'd never know it from the press it gets, but over the last decade, books banned because of "religious viewpoint" and "occult" content equal about a third of the books that were challenged for being "sexually explicit."  It's not that I'm saying that we shouldn't protect these books or all books for that matter.  I just think this issue is a banner issue (pun not intended) for we Banned Books Week enthusiasts because its easy for most of us to defend these books.  We like to step into magical worlds, we see that these are fantasies and we're not threatened by them at all.  Get on your high horse about other issues like sex, violence, drugs, and racism and someone can show you a truly awful book that you won't want to defend.

That's the problem with free speech, we have to let everyone have it.  Even the racists, the sexists, the pornographers, and even the people who think that animals talking in Charlotte's Web is a perversion of God's domain.

On the plus side, its because of free speech that they can't take our talking animals and broomsticks and vampires away from us.  A parent who wants to keep a book out of their child's hand can't do it by taking a book out of another child's hands.  You can't interfere with my free speech because you think yours is better or more important.

So you leave my talking animals alone and I'll defend your book's right to be there too, and we'll both be miserable about it.  God Bless America!

Check out some of these truly evil, occultist books this Banned Books Week.

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