Happy (?) Banned Books Week
Happy (yes!) Banned Books Week (and the Future of Democracy)
September 23-29 is Banned Books Week from the American Library Association, with this year’s theme of “Banning Books Silences Stories.”
My local library, in Santa Cruz, asked me to contribute to their video collection of local readers talking about a favorite banned book. And I said sure, both because: libraries, but also because I was myself banned, a little, sort of. As I explain here:
Now, as a good Leftie Liberal, I tend to have a knee-jerk reaction against banning any book. Free speech is free speech, no matter how painful and occasionally distasteful. However, a survey of the arguments against various books—and particularly, HOW that argument is addressed and dealt with—makes food for thought when it comes to continuing lessons in practical democracy.
In an age when racist blather is shouted from the highest offices of the land, do I really wantmy kid to be handed the wince-evoking racism of Tintin’sNative Americans and Conglese people—with no suggestion that those attitudes may be offensive?
Similarly, isn’t it hazardous to hand the gullible a copy of Mein Kampfor The Protocols of the Elders of Zionwithout explanation? But if so, does that mean the library (or internet) shouldn’t have those books at all? Isn’t it possible to attach a sort of trigger warning to a book that offends, to encourage the reader to reflect on why that book is troubling, and to encourage that reader to investigate more deeply? Isn’t it the job of a library or school to educate us—children or adults—about the wider world?
More thoughts on this tomorrow—but in the meantime, look at the listsand tell me: what’s YOUR favorite banned book?