Banned Book Week

I thought I'd pick up a meme from blogger Samurai Knitter - pick from a list of banned books and discuss in honor of Banned Book Week.

I've always thought banning books had exactly the opposite effect the pearl-clutching ninnies had in mind - what is more likely to get a kid to read a novel than finding out that Mrs. Smith from down the street thinks it's smut?  Lord knows I read Lolita on my own in high school precisely because it was supposedly so "bad."
It seems a lot of the books on the list had complaints registered primarily because people were missing the point.  In particular, complaints about the use of racial epithets.  Because, as we all know, reading such a word will immediately and permanently damage the reader either by causing them lasting emotional damage or by turning them into a bigot.  And if we pretend that people never used such terms in the past and don't use them now it will totally make everything okay.
It seems like To Kill a Mockingbird gets the most flack.  I have to assume that most of the people complaining have not actually read the novel and thus have no idea what the context of usage is.  Otherwise, I think I need to pause and weep for humanity.

The complaint about 1984 has to be my personal favorite though:

Challenged in the Jackson County, FL (1981) because Orwell's novel is "pro-communist and contained explicit sexual matter." Source: 2007 Banned Books Resource Guide by Robert P. Doyle.
Do you hear that whistling sound?  That would be the point flying just over the top of your very pointed head.

For more information about Banned Books Week (or more reading that will allow you to both mock people and feel deeply uncertain about your fellow man) see the ALA site here.

1 comment:

Julie said...

I agree! Even allowing for the fact that I was once an English major and forced to read a lot of stuff, I'd read most of the novels on the banned book list because they had a bad reputation. Or because friends of mine read them (because they had bad reputations) and told me they were good.

And yes, the missed point. All the racial slurs in Mockingbird and Huck Finn and a bunch of other books are there precisely to point out how dumb they are. HELLO! When I go back to school (for a science degree), if I'm forced to write another literary paper, it's going to be "Use of the word Nigger in Huck Finn". Swear to Bob.