Circadian Poems

A place to celebrate poetry, poets, and the creative spirit.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week
By Devon Ellington

Today ends this year’s Banned Books Week. What is it? Not a week advocating censorship. Banned Books Week was created by librarians, teachers, book publishing professionals, writers and readers who believe it’s important to have diverse literature available to all.

In my opinion, anyone who is secure in his or her beliefs is not going to feel threatened by a book or a poem or a play or an article expressing an opposite opinion. If one is secure in one’s beliefs, if one truly knows, deep in the soul, that one is right, different points of view and opposing arguments are welcome. Points can be debated. Opinions, if the views are argued well, might not be changed, but broadened. Greater understanding is possible.

However, when someone suspects that perhaps their beliefs are faulty, they’re afraid of other points of view. Because they can’t fashion an intelligent argument with evidence to back it up. Therefore, to cover their own fear and their own knowledge that they’re on shaky ground, they censor and they oppress. Oppression is created by people who know, at least on a subconscious level, that they are wrong. Faced with their wrongness, they feel they must destroy it.

There are plenty of parents who don’t want their kids “exposed” to many of the books on the Banned Books List in school. Again, this is ridiculous. The whole point of school is to expose children to as many points of view as possible within the safety of a school environment. They are supposed to learn, in school, how to read a variety of materials and make discerning judgments on them.

When they come home, it is the parent’s job to sit down and discuss what the child has read and learned in school, and then, calmly say, “That’s an interesting point of view. But we don’t believe that because . . .”and then lay out a well-reasoned argument. To say “We don’t believe it because that’s not what we believe and anyone who believes differently is doomed to hell” is not a well-fashioned argument.

So do a little research on Banned Books. Take a look at the current list. Write letters to your school district and your newspapers and in your blog explaining why it’s important for as much information as possible to be available to everyone.

The wider the variety of viewpoints to which our children are exposed, the more opportunities they will have to learn how to think individually and make positive choices for themselves, their communities, and the larger world. That’s something that should be encouraged, not censored.

Devon Ellington is the founder of Circadian Poems. She publishes under a half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction. Her blog on the writing life is Ink in My Coffee.

1 Comments:

  • At 6:58 AM, Blogger Anita said…

    When I was in 6th grade, a parent made a fuss about "The Chocolate War" and had it banned from the book list. I had already read the book as part of our required reading, and because they banned it, I had to read another book from the list. While this was no problem for me, because I have always loved to read and would have read more books anyway, it stuck with me as an example of how one person can keep many people from experiencing a great story just because there is something that they don't like in the book. My favorite book of all time is Fahrenheit 451, simply because it is a warning to us about what can happen if we start banning books just because we don't agree with what's inside them. Thanks for this essay, Devon. It says so effectively what I believe about censorship.

     

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