Banned Book Week ~ Sept 24 – Oct. 1st

“Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week.  BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.” – from ALA website

As an English major, Reference Librarian wanna-be, parent, and firm believer in the freedom of choice I had to blog about BBW and what it means to all of us. So many people think that banned books are just books filled with smut or hard core porn but the dirty little secret is that most of the books on the list are banned because the content represents an opinion or idea that differs from the person or group challenging the title. Classic titles like To Kill A Mockingbird, Lord of the Rings, Native Son and The Call of the Wild were challenged based on racial issues,  use of violence and profanity, along with sexual reference.

But wait, there’s more – classics aren’t the only titles challenged in school & library boards across America. Current reader favorites like Harry Potter (right here in Gwinnett County in ’06), Crank by Ellen Hopkins (drugs, sex, language), Hunger Games (sexually explicit, violence) and Nickel & Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich (political & religious viewpoints) were challenged last year.

Why does this matter? It matters because a person or a group of people want to remove or restrict a book from everyone in their community because they don’t agree with what the author has written. Did I ask you to do that? Did I ask you to think for me? Did I ask you to make my decisions for me or protect me from something you perceive as evil? No, I don’t believe I did.

God gave me a brain and I enjoy using it. My parents taught me right from wrong and I understand actions & consequences. The Constitution gave me the 1st Amendment and I hold that privilege near and dear to my heart. Please don’t speak for me – I can do that fine all by myself.

Intellectual freedom should be protected, promoted and embraced and that is why I support Banned Books Week & the 1st Amendment. I don’t have to agree with everything you say or how you say it but I’m not going to stop you from saying it (no matter how annoying I find the message & delivery) because it is your right as an American.

If you don’t like what I have to say don’t censor or arrest me. Just don’t listen (or read). I didn’t make you find this post or force you to read it. You sought me out and decided to read what I have to say. That is the beauty of having a choice  and no one should take our right to choose  anything, even books, away.