Saturday, September 27, 2014

Banned Books Week, Eh?

Via Tengrain, I realize that this week has been Banned Books Week. Here's a rundown of the ten most "challenged" books for the past fourteen years.

My mother never forbade us from reading any book, no matter how young we were. She always figured that reading anything was better than reading nothing at all, and that she had instilled her values into us when we were little children, so we could "handle" just about any material. She herself had been granted full access to an uncle's library when she was young, and she followed his example of allowing full access to the family library. Hell, even a collection of salacious medieval tales (much along the lines of the saltier sections of The Canterbury Tales) wasn't off limits... and Till Eulenspiegel was a favorite character of mine even as a child. Even if there had been a copy of the dreaded Necronomicon around, mom would have placed no limitations on it.

Banning books is always a foolish attempt to ban thoughts, a theme similar to the concept of "Newspeak" enumerated in George Orwell's sometimes banned 1984- if you haven't read this particular book, it's doubleplusgood. My attitude is that, if your view of the world can be utterly changed by reading one particular book, then the problem is with your view of the world. Sound ideas cannot be destroyed that easily. I have to confess that I don't celebrate Banned Books Week myself, seeing that I'm a proponent of reading everything any week of the year. Just as I've long suspected that Valentine's Day is a plot to sell cards, flowers, and chocolates, I suspect that Banned Books Week is a plot to sell Captain Underpants books- not that there's anything wrong with that. While I don't celebrate the week per se, I fully support those who do, largely to spite the sort of people who support book burning.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

We’re always just steps away from theocracy, and Banned Books Week should be a jolt to wake us up.

I think we're even closer to 1984.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council.

mikey said...

While not their exclusive domain, attempts to control thoughts and beliefs through control of the availability of certain books is the primary tool of the Theocracy. Just as the American Christianist Right attempts to control the content of textbooks and ban anything gay-friendly (or even gay-tolerant, but you know...), the Islamic fundamentalists take it even farther - perhaps because their worldview is based on a time even a thousand years older than the Christianist's medieval beliefs - banning books, music, poetry and most forms of individual expression.

The risks to modern society posed by the rise of fundamentalist and extremist religious beliefs are always understated, because to criticize religious mythology or to identify as an atheist is still unacceptable in most parts of the world...

Helmut Monotreme said...

I wish this quote wasn't just from a video game, because it speaks pretty clearly on this issue.
"As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth’s final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.

— Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri [1998], Commissioner Pravin Lal"