Banning books in schools and libraries is a common American thing. Citizens protested against this crappy act in the past years, but there was no end to it. Authorities went crazy and kept challenging titles without giving proper logic. The situation got even worse in recent years.
According to ALA (American Library Association), the US states banned twice as many books in 2022 than in 2021.
Let me put an actual number on this.
Pen America, a dignified organization, published that between July 2022 and June 2023, around 3,362 books were banned in US schools and libraries.
Obviously, the numbers look shocking and questioning. Why are so many books getting banned? What can be the reason? Most importantly, is it alright to make some specific books prohibited?
Let’s address all these issues today. Mainly, I want to share my opinions on why books should not be banned.
Why The Hell Are Books Getting Banned?
Do you know that the Odyssey was a forbidden book in Roman times? Yes, I am talking about Homer’s greatest creation.
The Odyssey depicts a mesmerizing story promoting democratic ideals. This message scared the shit out of the autocratic Roman king.
What if this philosophy gave his people the wrong signal? What if they started rioting for freedom? He could not afford to lose his empire. So, banning the book seemed the best option.
Sure, the time has changed. People are more progressive nowadays. They listen and respect. Yet, this war over ideology is still lingering in the air.
You will not believe me. But as per recent news, The Odyssey received another hit. This time, the classic got banned in Lawrence, Massachusetts, because of preaching violence and sexism.
I mean, really? Have you ever peeked at the entertainment industry? Most of them flash nudity and hostility. So, illegalizing one book will not put a stop to these things.
As per my investigation, 92.5% of titles get challenged because of raunchy sexual content and violence. That is not all. Offensive language and the use of illegal substances also lead to prohibition (However, this point is understandable).
Censorship of novels due to religious and political views is also common. Not to mention that some books were restricted because they talked about sexual fluidity and LGBTQ+ communities. The titles banned from 2022 to 2023 mostly belong to this last category.
Local authorities of schools or communities often make these decisions. They challenge these books to protect young minds from the VICE OF THIS WORLD. Of course, religious groups heavily influence this decision.
Banning books at local levels is considerably easy. The court has given the local school boards and libraries the full authority to decide which books to keep and which to throw out. So, these small communities prioritize their local values before information accessibility (What a misuse of power)!
Why has the Supreme Court bestowed the local boards such high power? Read the In Island Trees Union Free School District v. Pico (1982) case to know the history.
Books Should Not Be Banned Because…
Thankfully, people are not just ready to make peace with such abnormalities. The ALA reports that around 71% of voters are against this insanity.
Banning age-appropriate books is alright and only rational. But censorship of titles based on religious, political, or personal agendas is a joke.
Parents often support the school boards when removing a book from the shelf. Obviously, they do not want their children to learn obscenity or dictatorship at such an early age. But illegalizing books in bulk has also left them in shock.
I obviously don’t support this book censorship act. My reasons are,
1. We Have Intelectual Freedom
The First Amendment of the United States has given us the freedom of speech and expression. This teaches us not only to give a voice to our opinions but also to listen to other’s thoughts. Regardless of the differences, we ought to co-exist happily in a community.
Removing titles in the name of sexuality or inappropriate stuff teaches nothing but discrimination. It pushes us towards a society where one individual can not stand a thought that contradicts his belief. If this does not lead to hatred, then what does?
2. Why Limiting Culture & History?
Books do wonders for young people. They make cultures and traditions from around the world accessible to you. Definitely, some rituals from a distant region can seem triggering to you. But that doesn’t mean reading about the events will make you a psychopath.
When you remove a book from the shelf for one bad thing, you ignore other helpful contents it contains. Less exposure to cultures only makes people arrogant and disrespectful of others’ opinions.
The same logic applies to historical books, too. The Second World War was a shameful event in the history of humanity. But it still is important.
You can not expect your kids to be sympathetic to those war-torn countries and refugees without learning a thing about the real history. Right?
3. No One Has A Right to Suppress Ideologies
Sorry for bringing up the example of The Odyssey once again. One of the reasons this title got banned was its core philosophy. The emperor was afraid that people would outnumber his troops and throw him out.
Do you know the irony? The king who banned the Odyssey was murdered by his own people. His ideology couldn’t save his life.
My point is that superior complexity, just because you belong to one specific group, is damn scary. You take others as your inferiors and enemies.
But hey! Your foe is sitting right next to you. Your fall is inevitable if you keep forcing your beliefs, even on your own people.
So, I say, why don’t you let others figure out their own philosophy? Instead of being so cocky, just take a seat and relax. I think that would make this world a far better place.
4. There Is A Fine Line Between Sexual Content & Vulgarity
Because of implicit sexual content and promoting LGTBQ community books like Heartstopper and Love, Simon got banned. I understand why parents want their children not to fall into the trap of gender fluidity or whatever.
You have my support as long as the contents include nudity, porn, or abusive stuff. But if the book is talking about general things about sex without objectifying any gender, I see no issue.
Don’t you know that young minds are more curious about prohibited things? Do not blame them if they get into trouble when experimenting with something they should not have. I suggest we allow the kids to speak out loud about their curiosity. This way, they will get clarity without making any blunder.
5. Books Open The Doorway of Logical Thinking
Imagine you have a headache. What do you do? Take aspirin? Right.
If the pain persists? You go to a doctor and have yourself checked. You follow a method because you know that this is the right thing to do.
Why don’t you chop off heads wherever someone complains about the headache? Because that would be illogical.
Similarly, banning titles so that your kids can ignore a particular situation is the stupidest thing to do. Instead, challenge your children with contradictory topics and expose them to a variety of content. This will force them to think outside the box and see one point from different angles.
6. The Real World Is No Fairy Tale
Where do you think these book authors and their followers live? They are all around us.
Remember, banning books does not make these people with contradictory beliefs disappear. Your kids still have to deal with them today or later. Hiding your children from real-life facts definitely does not make them street smart but stupid.
Soon, they will step into the world with zero practical knowledge and false pride. Let me be honest. No one likes these douchebags.
My Parting Thoughts
Some books are obviously age-inappropriate. I will agree.
But who are you to decide an ideology for someone else? Also, you have no right to demean others just to prove your belief. This is not a sane society.
The good thing is this circus is limited to the local communities. They do not have any large-scale impact. As per the First Amendment, each has freedom of speech, and banning any book is a complete violation.
As a book enthusiast, I don’t believe any title should be banned. Instead, the authorities should filter the books by putting on an unbiased mask.
Also, if you are a parent, watch over what your child is reading. Do not poke the school to ban this or that novel.
If things go on at this pace, a generation of airheads are waiting for us! Anyway, Peace!