Banning Books

I’m a bibliophile. I love books. Nay, I adore books. Since the fourth grade I have read for pleasure. Books have always been my source of comfort, escape, and growth. What better way for a young girl, growing up in the projects to experience and explore medieval times? How else would I learn about what it took to truly be a princess with out actually being a princess? I can’t tell you how many lives I’ve lived, how many adventures I’ve had all through the wonder of the written word. So, you can understand my dismay when I hear on the news upon waking, “School board rescinds the banning of book.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/26/us-usa-book-ban-idUSBRE98P03020130926

What the fuck? Yes, I startled out of a prone position as I uttered the f-bomb. It’s 2013 and we’re banning books? Naturally, I listened to the story and discovered that a parent of a Junior in Randolph County NC, thought the novel had questionable content. Namely, content of a sexual nature that she deemed inappropriate for teens. Again, I had the WTF moment. First of all, the book in question,  The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison was dealing with being a black man in American Society in the 50’s. 

Now to be fair, I haven’t read that particular book but I have read and continue to read a fair number of books that are actually in the libraries of public schools. Let me tell you, some of the series that are in the Young Adult genre have more than raised my eyebrows. But for a school board to actually ban a novel that received literary acclaim and is assigned on the college level is a bit much. Education is about learning new things, trying to understand the world you live in and trying to improve upon what has gone before. You can’t grow without considering different perspectives. The safest way for anyone to do this is through the literary world and the discussion of it. No one says anything about Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter and let me tell you, I don’t know of a girl who read that book who didn’t come away thoroughly disgusted with Puritanical societies and the double standard. Was that book banned? Nope. What about Tess of the D’Ubervilles? The heroine is raped, cast out and left to eke out a meager existence. Oh, and let’s not forget Medea. That play messed me up for an entire semester. The gist of Medea is a scorned wife takes her revenge against her husband by killing his trophy wife and committing infanticide. At the close, Medea rides off into the heavens in a chariot pulled by dragons. Incidentally, the best exit ever. However, again there was no banning.

Come on people, children are adults in training. If you truly want them to make good decisions, you don’t shield them from the world rather you teach them how to best navigate it. Have we become so fixated on sex that we’ll overlook and dismiss great literary works because the idea of our youth reading about sexual situations makes us uncomfortable? If we have indeed come to such a pass, then it is no wonder that we find ourselves as a nation in such a state of affairs.

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