F()@# Censorship! It's Banned Books Week

A few years back, I was at a trade event where I shared a signing table with Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. She's a very sweet, diminutive lady who reminds me a lot of my sweet, diminutive mother. She is funny. She is kind. She is smart. And she is not, I feel safe assuring you, about to bring about the ruin of Western Civilization. I am frankly befuddled about why she consistently shows up on the American Library Association's yearly list of most banned and/or challenged books. In fact, the whole idea of banning books leaves me pretty befuddled, and you are invited to join me and millions of befuddled others in the celebration of Banned Books Week.

Bake a cake. Light a candle. Drop a few F-bombs. (Or click here to search for Banned Books Week Read Outs and other events in your area.) Whatever fits into your belief system. Just think about it. That's all the American Library Association is really asking us to do. The problem is, it's a hard thing to think about. When we support intellectual and artistic freedom, we support the publication of Mein Kampf. And stuff like this. When we think about the right wing activists who are galvanized and mobilized and radicalized, we might feel guilty about sitting here on our groovy liberal live-and-let-live asses.

My daughter Jerusha (a big PR Naylor fan in her formative tween years, now a double Dance and English major with a minor in Wild Over-spending) loves all things Ray Bradbury, most particularly The Illustrated Man and Fahrenheit 451, two vociferously challenged and oft-banned books.

"He had so much sadness about the way people are letting go of books," she observed the other night when we were on the topic. "So much of what he wrote is trying to wake people up and tell them you have to read before the stories and the ideas disappear."

As Bradbury said himself, "You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them."


Suzan Harden said…
Well said, Joni! Knowledge is power!

LOL Of course, I get this way every October when lots of people start telling me I'm a Satanist because I love Halloween. My response is that it's the Celtic New Year, and I want my son to celebrate his Irish heritage.
Excellent post. If a book doesn't challenge some group or hack off somebody, it's probably not worth reading in the first place. Better to the Ann Coulters of the world(choke) who're out there publishing their vitriol than risk losing the written words that shape our culture.
TJ Bennett said…
As the saying goes, I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it...even if it is in a book with the title Big Spankable Asses. *shudders*


p.s. Word Verification: beeyf -- the other red meat.

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