Friday, August 28, 2015

Banned Books - Commentary by Laurie Schultz

I have noticed a disturbing trend in the news lately of helicopter parents attempting to ban books from being taught in certain schools. In some cases, these individuals and groups have gone so far as to try and have the books removed from school libraries all together, often making them unavailable, not only to their student, but to all students. Most recently in the news, the books Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck, The Kite Runner by Hosseini and 19 Minutes by Picoult. The worst part of these attempts of blatant censhorship, is listening to why these books were banned. In the case of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, one self- appointed literary critic said that "it wasn't particularly well written and it was hardly a page turner". What the hell does she want these children to read? Twilight? Further, she and others expressed concerned about the "filthy language" in the book. ( I've read it - recently- and really didn't see that as an area of concern). Clearly this paragon of virtue hasn't been on the school bus with her little darling lately. I can assure you that every teenager in this country has, AT LEAST, heard worse. In North Carolina, where Kite Runner was banned, some ideological zealot wanted the rape scene and all those scenes demeaning to women removed BEFORE it could be taught. Well, if you were to take all that out of the text, what the hell would be the bloody point of teaching it at all?? This book is about life in other parts of the world - parts where women are still treated as chattel or worse. The point of the book is to show that. It's a book about redemption. Without the horrible scenes, without the cruelty, there is no redemption and there is no understanding. Clearly, for at least one person in North Carolina, understanding is apparently impossible anyway. And finally, 19 Minutes by Jodi Picoult banned in Massachusetts of all places. This book is about a school shooting. How much more timely and relevant could it possibly be? Parent's wanted it banned because there is a date rape scene in the book. Heaven forbid we should teach our children about things that CAN and DO happen when they make poor choices. These kinds of things are especially important to teach and to discuss - in a safe environment - so hopefully, God forbid - your child even finds themselves in a similar situation, they know what to do and what not to do. Heaven forbid we teach our children to read books to make them question themselves and the world around them. We certainly shouldn't teach them to expand their world view or prepare them for a world that largely lacks understanding, empathy and love. Arming our children is the only way to protect them. And no I don't mean with guns. I mean with Knowledge, Tolerance and Love. Banning books.... I know it's something that has always happened, but honestly, I thought we were all big enough people to move beyond this, If you don't like a book's subject matter, don't buy it - and dont' read it but don't allow you're closed mind to take away someone else's opportunity to expand their own horizons.

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