Friday, September 24, 2004

Free People Read Freely

ALA Challenged and Banned Books
Book-banning controversy tears at souls of librarians
From classics to 'Harry Potter,' words can still get folks fired up
The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books

Tomorrow is the beginning of Banned Books Week, which runs through Saturday, October 2.

As a writer myself, and as an avid reader, the concept of banning books is troubling to me. In this country, freedom of expression is very important. If a writer's work is banned due to an objection to the material, then that writer's freedom of expression is being limited.

Personally, I can think of few things more objectionable than that. The whole idea is the very definition of "un-American." Freedom of expression is vital to our chosen governmental system. Democracy can't work properly without it. Limiting a person's means for propagating their own ideas simply because they are unpopular is a violation of the core ideals this nation was founded on.

It is with this in mind that I challenge all of you this week to read a banned book. The list linked above of "100 Most Frequently Challenged Books" is a good place to start for a list of choices. Find out for yourself what it is that someone found so dangerous that they had the blatant gall and arrogance to suggest that it should be off limits to others.

This is not about the dissemination of unpopular ideas; this is about the dissemination of all ideas. It's about the right to read what you like and make up your own mind without having it made for you. Find out for yourself if Harry Potter promotes witchcraft, or if Stephen King uses the word "fuck" too liberally. Decide for yourself if you want to read these books, or if you want your children to read them. Don't let someone else decide for you.

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