Banned Book Week – September 25 – October 2

As I sat here this morning reading my Facebook feed, I noticed it was Banned Book Week.  Never hearing of this I Googled it and found a wonderful article from the ALA (American Library Association.  It really got me thinking on how closely entwined literature and fine art really are.  There have always been censorship in art and books have always been banned but why?  Why do we as a society deem it necessary to tell people what to read and what to look at?  Do I think censorship is necessary?  Yes absolutely!  I don’t want pornography of any type popping up when I type in something innocent in Google.  I don’t want any children to be exploited by some sick twisted person.  Call me a hypocrite, I don’t care – some things are okay and some things are not.  It is also our job as parents to make those decisions.  Will I let my four year study the Renaissance Art?  Probably not, some day but she is only four.  Has she seen Michelangelo’s David?  Yep, I have a magnet that she dresses on a regular basis.  Has she ever asked about why he is naked?  No, she knows it is a statue.

Why did I write this post today?  I guess because I am shocked with it being 2010 that we are still banning books and defeating what our Founding Fathers wanted, the whole First Amendment thing.  I am quite aware that this is a Crafting Blog and I should not be pushing my views on banned books on everyone.  This was not my intention.  My intention was to make people aware that censorship happens in art and literature all the time and has happened for centuries (fig leaves on the Sistine Chapel ceiling) but why?  If you don’t like a book – DON’T READ IT!  Don’t tell me I can’t read it too!  If you don’t like a piece of art?  DON’T SEE IT!  Don’t tell me I can’t see it and that it should not be studied because you don’t like it.  Art, like books were created for a reason, to show or reflect a time period of history narrated by that artist or writer.

WARNING:  SPOILER ALERTS FOR HARRY POTTER, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST AND OF MICE AND MEN, DIARY OF ANNE FRANK – SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THEM!

The list of the top 100, surprised me.  Harry Potter, really?!  Goosebumps, really?!  I have read both series, I’m not a witch, I don’t talk to zombies or dead people.  I think anything that gets kids to read is a good thing.  I agree Harry Potter did get dark towards the end but nothing a 3rd grader has not heard or seen.  As for Goosebumps this was the only series my mom could get my brother to read as a kid.  He loved it, I refer to Goosebumps as the Harry Potter of our day.  I read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school, fantastic book!  It shows and teaches the cold hard truth of racism.  I think every high school student should be forced to read this book and not because I was forced to read this book but because it was a good book!  Of Mice and Men is on the list.  Okay, I understand why it is on the banned book list, because it portrays a mentally challenged person in a bad light but this is how they were treated in the 1920s!  Most mentally challenged people where sent away to a home or an insane asylum never to be heard from again.  I still cry thinking about Lenny!  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – random lobotomies to patients because they can not be control their actions or were difficult was the norm.  The Diary of Anne Frank was not on the ALA Top 100 List but I have seen it on lists.  How can you deny what this girl went through?  The terror she lived with EVERY DAY!  No child should have to live with that type of fear! 

Like it or not some of the books that are being banned show how we as a society treated others.  If you deny the fact you are denying history.  History is fact and you can’t change facts!  No matter how hard we try.  Yes, Hitler did exterminate six million people.  Yes, we did imprison US citizens in internment camps during World War Two.  John F. Kennedy did have a mentally challenged sister who was given a lobotomy, who out lived three brothers and a sister.  Yes there was slavery and yes racism still exists!  That is what books are suppose to do!  Evoke emotions, make you think, what if that was me?  Good books like good art makes you think! 

What should we do?  READ A BANNED BOOK THIS WEEK!!!!  I myself am going to read “Of Mice and Men” and maybe read “Catcher and the Rye” (believe it or not I have NEVER read it!)  If I can find my copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird” I will read that.  I don’t get much time to read but I want a good book when I do and if that “good book” is on the BANNED BOOK LIST it makes it that much sweeter!

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