The Bane of Banned Books

Hop_on_Pop

Haven’t you heard?
It’s all about the word.
We have a need to read, to help our brain’s exceed and lead.
Agreed? Proceed – let your mind be freed. Just pick a book and take a look.
Imagination. An educational donation of narration elation.

Banned books are back in the news. And this time the villain is none other than the evil Dr. Suess.

This past March, a formal letter of complaint was filed with the Toronto Public Library, petitioning for the prompt expulsion of the gruesome and graphic missive promoting paternal harm all while masquerading as a light children’s book.

Is this the dirty secret within “Hop on Pop”?

According to the complainant, The Simplest Seuss for Youngest Use Random House Beginner Book “encourages children to use violence against their fathers.” In addition to the demand for complete removal, the petition also requested the library “pay for damages resulting from the book.”

We have now reached a point in society where we are so concerned with “protecting” our children and keeping them safe from any possible perceived danger that it actually is not terribly shocking to hear a tale of an attempt to ban one of the very books that teaches little ones how to read in the first place.

In an ironic reading comprehension failure, the actual stanza from the book reads,

HOP POP We like to hop.
We like to hop on top of Pop.
STOP You must not hop on Pop.

Words can hurt.

You’ve heard the old adage, about sticks and stones? I’ll clarify: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can slice through your heart and scar you.

This is, in fact, the very reason banning books is a dangerous and ill-advised practice.

As Albus Dumbledore reminded the boy wizard in the final tome of Harry Potter, “Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.”

Words carry an inherent power. And the ability to comprehend and decipher both their literal and implicit meanings within them. Without the capacity to understand the cognitive difference between mission statements meant to incite, reflective poetry, fiction or fables, we then lose the humanity involved in debate and discussion.

Would I let my children read any book they wanted? Yes.

I believe that it my job as a parent to guide and educate my children so that they are capable of reading absolutely anything, but ensuring the supervision that they are also mature enough to handle content before they consume any given particular piece (and wise enough to instigate a discussion on any questions thusly arising).

Parents and schools are by far the most common challengers. The censorship of such pre-determined themes stifles progression and independent thought. All in all, the subjects covered are pretty systemic in any epic saga – conflict is what drives the story forward.

According to analytics compiled by the American Library Association, the main reasons citing for censuring a book are: anti-ethnic, cultural sensitivity, racism, sexism, anti-family, nudity, offensive language, abortion, drugs/alcohol, gambling, gangs, violence, suicide, homosexuality, sexuality, political views, religious viewpoints, satanism, unsuited for an age group, and inaccuracies. All topics heavily played throughout all major religious texts spanning back to the introduction of written history.

Stories are what keep society moving. Critical thinking and common sense are what will keep us afloat.

2 Comments

Filed under Books, Seriously?

2 Responses to The Bane of Banned Books

  1. Do you really think our society is represented by such complaints? Or is more that those on the extreme about issues can make their voices even louder and reach more people than ever before in history? I think the Toronto request makes the news because most of us think it is ludicrous. And the only reason we even heard about it is because it just takes a few key strokes for information to reach the whole world.
    Or maybe I just hope that is the way it is.

  2. I wholly agree this only makes the news because of the ridiculousness of it. But in a positive way, it does bring back into the forefront the issue of banned books.

    Another example is of a banned book in Idaho (http://www.kboi2.com/news/local/Meridian-police-show-up-to-free-book-giveaway–256475781.html) A teen took a stand and distributed the books for free at a local park. Cops were called and arrived, befuddled.

    Other books don’t receive such attention because they may not contain subject matter we’re all comfortable with. For example, I wouldn’t want my children reading Fifty Shades of Gray (ok, mostly because it’s so horribly written I don’t want that as an example of good literature). But at no point do I think I can or should prevent anyone from reading it.

    Because I read it before forming an opinion. I say read all the books. Then let’s discuss.

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