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Monday, October 31, 2005

Banned Books

In the Bill of Rights, the first amendment says, " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." Every year books in the U.S. and some other countries (but not many) ban books because of their content. Of the books put on the list only about 30% of them get banned. Now groups like the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression are moving onto the banning content on the Internet.

Each person has a view on what is "proper" content or subject matter in today’s world. That’s the beauty of our world; we are free to be ourselves and read whatever we want. So why do people want to ban books from our families? We obviously read these books we want to ban and we "turned out" just fine. Our minds aren’t "warped" and we haven’t done evil or horrible things because we read it out of a book we were required to read in school.
The whole point of getting students to read these books is to make them aware of the bad things in the world. Take To Kill a Mocking Bird as an example; it talks about discrimination of mentally handicapped people and African American people. It teaches you to not judge those you don’t know, something we SHOULD be teaching our children, but it’s on a censorship list. It hasn’t been, because even I have read that book. Another example is The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin, which is on the list because of its promotion of unruly and dangerous acts. There are entire sites dedicated to the list of books that people want banned, one such site is http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/bannedbooksweek/bbwlinks/100mostfrequently.htm.

What I don’t understand is why we think our children would have any due influence from these books outside of what the book was trying to get across. To Kill a Mocking Bird is a great and inspiring book that teaches us to keep an open mind and not judge people by how the look or act. Why would we NOT want our kids to listen to that?! If we look at it from a freedom and liberty scale what we read is our own right. Child or not I think they should have some say in their right to read something.

If it deals with sex, murder, or other violent acts then I can see why some would want to keep it away from their children, but not ban it altogether. Instead why not create an age limitation of the books. Say for example Withering Heights, which has some sexual content and most children don’t read it till high school and by then its not such a delicate topic. I just believe that some of the books on any censorship list really shouldn’t be there. Their content is not harmful to children. Several of the groups that support these lists are all about "being a part of the family" and being an active part of your child’s life". If the parents were an "active part" of their kid’s life, then why would be it be so wrong to let them read the book? If you enforce and promote the behavior you expect of your children then you shouldn’t have any problem with them taking the true message from the book and understanding it.

I just think its restricting the child’s right to read and learn different things. Plus, to me, its as if we are teaching the child to be all right with other people controlling what you do, read, say, and think. What part of that is freedom???

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