Banned Books Week 2009 – Sept 26 – Oct 3

I have been trying for most of the week to figure out people who want to ban books. To the best of my knowledge, no one that I personally know has done this, so I can’t email them and ask why. I expect that they have the best of intentions and believe they are helping people. But then again, the Manson Family also believed they were helping people by committing the Tate-LaBianca murders. Maybe these book-banners want to protect children. But what are they protecting them from? Thinking? Other points of view? Ideas? Are they secretly afraid that what they believe is wrong and children will figure that out if they read disapproved materials? Certainly there are adult publications that are absolutely not appropriate for children, but that’s a different issue. What I mean here is that one person thinks, for example, Captain Underpants is “sexually explicit” (?) and should be removed from the library so that NOBODY can read it. That kind of thinking is incomprehensible to me. I don’t understand it, but I do understand that knowledge is power. It’s long been known that people are much easier to control when they’re kept ignorant. Even today, in cultures where women are second class citizens, girls are not educated. How can they make choices if they don’t know they have options?
Maybe book-banners fear that if kids read about fictional characters doing things, they’ll rush right out and do them. I can attest that I read The Shrine of Jeffrey Dahmner and had no inclination whatsoever to kill and eat people. I can’t imagine that anyone would read Crank and say, “Yes! Sign me up for that!” You won’t live long enough to make all the mistakes yourself, so save yourself time and effort by learning from other’s mistakes.
Book-banners might not, like the Manson Family, physically kill people. But through their misguided efforts, they are surely murderers of thought, ideas and choices. Some people choose to wear ignorance as a badge of honor. Choose to be better. Cultivate excellence by reading a book for Banned Books week.