Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Banned Books Week 2005

The Most-Challenged Books of 2004

This is when I really regret my inability to get to my blog as often as I'd like. I'm finally getting around to a post about Banned Books Week now that it's halfway over.

The article linked above states that a good number of challenges were issued last year due to a book's "homosexual content." I think that's highly significant when taken in consideration with the quote from Lyndon Johnson in the image that heads this page.

The topic of banning books is one that gets me fired up every time. I think it is important that access is granted to material with as broad a spectrum as possible in terms of subject matter and ideology. It does not guarantee that anyone will read anything, but it is essential that the material is available to those who are interested. Personally, I enjoy reading things that come from outside my own sphere of experience. It challenges my own beliefs and worldviews, which are either strengthened or discarded as a result. This sounds like "personal growth" to me, but the fact that book banning and challenging still occurs suggests that there are people who prefer to live in a shell and stagnate in safety.

When I wrote about this last year, I posted a link to my blog on several other blogs and message boards that I frequent. Most people who took the time to respond were interested and supportive, but one individual responded that book-banning doesn't exist. The argument this individual presented was that public schools and libraries have a responsibility to reflect the mindsets of the communities they serve and are not obligated to spend their funds on any certain material, whether objectionable or not, and that furthermore, removing a book from a library doesn't prevent access, as anyone can log onto Amazon or visit Barnes and Noble to purchase virtually any book imaginable. While both statements are true to a certain extent, I found the argument to be somewhat beside the point. Libraries and schools certainly don't have to purchase any particular book, but when they have purchased a book and said book is removed from circulation due to "objectionable content," that is indeed a ban. It does limit access for those who do not have the means to purchase a book. Fortunately, inter-library lending is an easy way around this problem, but not everyone knows that such lending is as readily available as it is.

At any rate, I encourage anyone who enjoys intellectual freedom to read a banned book this week. Read any book. Visit a library or a bookstore, check out or buy something that intrigues you, and explore. Talk about it with your friends. It's a great way to relax physically while at the same time exercising your mind and imagination.

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