Wednesday, September 22, 2010

SPEAKing Out Against Censorship

(I'm a bit late on the uptake with this, but better late than never. ^_^

Besides, this is a good way to kick off Banned Books Week.)

September means the end of summer, with all the kiddies back in school.

Apparently, it's also the time for parents and concerned community members to take a hard look at what the kids are reading. Books not just on the lesson plans, but also in the school libraries.

See example 1 (and example 2 from last month, roughly an hour and a half away in the same state).

If you haven't read the articles linked above, do so now. At least read the first one as it inspired this post. I'll wait.

Now that you're back, let's take a closer look at two terms Mr. Scroggins seems a bit confused by: rape and pornography.



1. the unlawful compelling of a woman through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.

2. any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person.


1. writings, pictures, films, etc, designed to stimulate sexual excitement

2. the production of such material

If rape is pornographic does that mean all violence is? The thought makes me shudder.

Worse than that, though, is this: the guy's a college professor. With a doctorate. Um, wow. Yeah. He sure doesn't sound educated or terribly informed, does he? Not what I expect from a professor. How about you?

Then there's his claim of it being his 'Christian duty' to protect young people from such filth.


There's protecting young people, then there's what he's trying to do. Just because someone wants to pretend all the bad stuff doesn't exist, doesn't mean it really doesn't exist.

Bad things happen. To everyone. It's a fact of life.

I understand not everything is appropriate for all age groups, but by the time kids reach high school, they already know bad stuff happens. They've heard cursing (Mr. Scroggins's complaint with Vonnegut's Slaughter-house Five), probably quite a lot. They know not everyone is an angel; good people do bad things. (Both of the aforementioned books and Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, the third book Mr. Scroggins mentions.)

What I don't understand is why people think banning books is acceptable. If you don't like a book, fine. Don't read it. If you think a book is inappropriate for your child or teen, don't let them read it.

But DO NOT make that call for other people and their children. You do not have the right. No one does.

Not in the United States at least. The First Amendment of our Constitution protects our rights to both freedom of speech and freedom of the press:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

(From the National Archives website.)

Sounds like banning books is unconstitutional.

Maybe that has something to do with the impressive list of posts made about this topic this week.

Of course, it could just be that all these posts come from authors, readers, and my fellow book bloggers. Why wouldn't we be up in arms about this?

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