July 14, 2024

Sept. 25 through Oct. 5 is dedicated to celebrate the very activity some groups claim is tearing apart the fabric of society and corrupting youth: reading.
Banned Books Week began in 1982 in response to the number of books being pulled from school libraries for being challenging and controversial. In 1976, the Island Tree School District in New York defended the act of banning calling certain books, “anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic and just plain filthy.”
Although when they were brought to the Supreme Court in 1982, banning books was found in violation of a student’s First Amendment Rights.
Even after this court ruling, the bans continue to this day. Some, while not condonable, are at least understandable such as “Fifty Shades of Grey” and its sequels, or “Naked Lunch.” But some are plain baffling. The children’s series “Captain Underpants” was banned in 2000 by Connecticut School District. A parent also tried to get it banned in a Washington elementary school.
“[The books] taught students to be disrespectful; not to obey authority; not to obey the law, including God’s law; improper spelling; to make excuses and lie to escape responsibly; to make fun of what people wear; and poor nutrition,” the parent claimed. This request was denied.
It seems nothing has escaped being challenged. “Harry Potter,” “The Bridge to Terabithia,” “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” and even “The Bible,” which currently sits at number seven on the most frequently banned books list. If a parent group can complain, it seems that they will.
And this week is about taking these complaints and turning them into dares.
So, “Looking for Alaska,” the current number one on the list, has offensive language and is sexually explicit. Good. “Two Boy Kissing,” condones homosexuality [something that got half of the top 10 banned] and public displays of affection. Read it if you want.
Nothing should be forbidden, or taken away in broad strokes. Every book has its merits to someone. Literature isn’t meant to be easy or comfortable. A challenging book with an agenda opposite your own gives an opportunity to see the other side. Reading something uncomfortable allows you to figure out why. Books are the ultimate example of freedom, freedom to speak and to experience, to cage them is a terrible, condemnable contradiction.

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