Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Absurdity of Book Censorship.

If there's one hot-button subject that really stokes my fire, it's the concept of censorship. Specifically, the banning of books.

Out of all the methods of content delivery available to us -- film, television, music, digital content, print -- I see the censoring of a book as the most egregious. Why?

It's simple - the book operates on a few key principles:

  • No one can force you to read a book (short of putting a weapon to your head).
  • The content within a book is "witnessed" with the Mind's Eye; it's all theater of the mind.
  • One can choose to close a book at any time, or continue to read it.

A book is not something that can force its way into your life. Only you can pick it up and open its cover. Only you can read the words. Only you can envision what the words are describing. Don't like it? Close it and move on to something else.

Yet, even in 2014, books are still being banned. What are the top reasons submitted as justification for banning a book?

  • Sexually explicit material
  • Offensive language
  • Material 'unsuited' to an age group
  • Violence
  • Homosexual activity
The chief defense against such absurd excuses is the matter of personal subjectivity. What constitutes sexually explicit material? What about offensive language? What's offensive to one person is not to another. How can you deem material unsuitable for an age group? Did you speak with the group? Did you ascertain as to their maturity level? What about violence? Wouldn't banning on the basis of violence deem nearly all religious texts and historical novels as guilty? As to the homosexual activity, isn't that a matter of personal choice?

Let's just cut to the heart of what book censorship is all about - forcing your own agenda upon a large group. That's it. Folks whom are afraid of other ideas entering the public domain are absolutely terrified of books. The knowledge contained within books can't be controlled, much less presented in such a way that the Mind's Eye will "watch" it in the "proper" manner.

Nope, in the opinion of the one whom censors, banning a book is the only way to achieve total control of the populace.

In 2013, the top banned books were:
*Data Pulled from the American Library Association
  1. Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
  2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
  5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  6. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
  7. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  9. Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
  10. Bone by Jeff Smith
Of this list, I've read three of the novels (and/or series) -- Captain Underpants, Looking for Alaska and Bone. I can assure you - none of these books need banned. In fact, all three are wonderful novels (Bone is a graphic novel series) that assert comedy, introspection, bravery, deep thoughts on life and what it means to be alive. I'm certain the other novels on this list reach similar heights of achievement.

I'm thankful I read Fahrenheit 451 at a very early age in life. Perhaps one of the most banned books in the history of censorship, Ray Bradbury's novel about a hollow utopia bankrupt of intellectual enrichment is an annual must-read for me. Fahrenheit 451 paints a future where books are completely outlawed, through which the populace has become dim and without merit. Books are burned for the greater good, supposedly. Mr. Bradbury, beginning with this novel and continuing through so many other stories, helped point me in the right direction in life. I can never repay him in full.

Censorship is wrong on all levels, no matter the medium. If you don't like something... turn the channel, shut off the television, silence the radio, leave the theater, close the book. Not all content is intended for every person. If it were, then what sort of society would we live in? One void of character and uniqueness -- a pale landscape of mediocrity and blandness...

A society absent a soul.

There is no good to be found in burning a book. In the ashes of the written word, only fear can be found.

No comments:

Post a Comment