Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Comment: Banned Book Week

I think that one of the most fundamental reasons I consider reading one of my major hobbies is the freedom I have enjoyed since I started reading in earnest way back in the 60s. Not that my reading habits changed all that much during that period, I still read mostly for entertainment, but what before was satisfied by comics now required a bit more meat. Mainly I suspect it was something to do with attention span. I wanted material that would take me away for longer periods of time.

My parents never really put limits on what I read. It wasn't until much later when it came to me that not being serious readers they may have never considered books anything more than what they were fundamentally. That very likely worked in my favor, for had I been told that I must read this, I would have looked upon reading as a chore.

So I spent my formative years and early adulthood exploring the trials of the dustbowl years, the fate of indentured or otherwise in the civil war years, Idealized Polynesian society, small town social / economic strife in a small new England town in the 60s, wild adventures along the Mississippi frightening political upheaval during the 30s and 40s. It was all open to me.

Then in the 70s I discover science and science fiction. Now the past present and the future were my playgrounds. I was free to read whatever I wanted....or so I thought.

Yes, I am talking about that horror called banned books. Dan brought me some pages this week to the September 2010 issue of the AARP Bulletin. On page 39 they list some of the books banned by American schools and libraries. Even this list is astounding and frightening. There is just something inherently ugly and evil about banning books. It should be so easy, if you choose to object to and not read something fine but what gives you the right to tell me that I must adhere to your choices.

I am not going to go through the whole list. Find a copy and read the article. It is truly unbelievable. But here are some of the books that I think are well within the venue of BMU.

Animal Farm George Orwell, 1945
1984 George Orwell, 1949
Brave New World Aldous Huxley 1932
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury 1954
A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess 1962
Slaughter House Five Kurt Vonnegut 1969

Some that might span the gap so to speak would be books like

Cujo, Stephen King 1981
James and the Giant Peach Roald Dahl 1961
Harry Potter books J.K. Rowlings 1997 - 2007
Lord of the Rings J.R.R. tolkien 1954

One of the most egregious occurrences has to be Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 which according to the article Ballantine sanitized editions sold to schools from 1967 to 1973 and went so far as to SELL ONLY the sanitized editions from 1973 to 1979. You have to ask why would Mr. Bradbury
allow one of his most memorable novels be butchered? Ballantine carried out this campaign without telling or asking Mr. Bradbury! Now that takes a pair right there....

Stay vigilant. I can guarantee that no matter what your political or religious views, the books that you consider as your RIGHT to have own and read are on someone else's ban list. Before you take the easy route and believe that certain people should never have access to certain books, consider your most important book and have someone take it away from you and possibly imprison you for owning it. Don't say that it can't happen because it already has, countless times. If you can justify any banning of books then you are a breath away from agreeing with them all.

September 25th to October 2nd is the American Library Association's annual Banned Books Week


Anonymous said...

just wondering what BMU stands for.

Beam Me Up said...

Beam Me Up! lol sorry. I am picking up some short hand habits over the years.