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Irish Books Discussion:     Banned Books

It’s Banned Books Weeks in the U.S. – a reminder by the American Library Association (the ALA) that Americans should not take freedom of speech lightly. There are those out there who would censor books they deem offensive for a myriad of reasons.

Books on the 2005 list:

• “It's Perfectly Normal” for homosexuality, nudity, sex education, religious viewpoint, abortion and being unsuited to age group;
• “Forever” by Judy Blume for sexual content and offensive language;
• “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger for sexual content, offensive language and being unsuited to age group;
• “The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier for sexual content and offensive language;
• “Whale Talk” by Chris Crutcher for racism and offensive language;
• “Detour for Emmy” by Marilyn Reynolds for sexual content;
• “What My Mother Doesn't Know” by Sonya Sones for sexual content and being unsuited to age group;
• Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey for anti-family content, being unsuited to age group and violence;
• “Crazy Lady!” by Jane Leslie Conly for offensive language; and
• “It's So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families” by Robie H. Harris for sex education and sexual content.

And a few others who have been on for years: the Alice series of books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain.

You can’t erase history by banning a book! You can’t make racism, homosexuality or genocide disappear because you take the books off the shelves! What is the matter with people?!!

I read Mein Kampf in high school (along with Catcher in the Rye and many other ‘offensive’ titles) – reading it was about education and explanation of different time periods, it brought out discussion. I don’t think people should be forced to read a book they find offensive or watch a film that makes them uncomfortable…but banning it solves no purpose but to give the offensive material more weight…assuming, of course, the content is ‘offensive’ in the first place…Catcher in the Rye is not offensive…heaven forbid an author have an original thought?!

There are few topics that get me more fired up than censorship. I am offended by the notion that the American people cannot decide for themselves what their opinion is of television, movies, books and music because there are the “den mothers” of the world who think it’s their place to deem what is appropriate and what isn’t. Some of my favorite television shows of all time have come under constant attack by the Parents Television Council. Even though the shows air at 10pm – long after the kids should be in bed – the story lines don’t have ‘appropriate content’ for younger viewers. I realize not all parents are as vigilant as mine in terms of knowing what we watched (helped that there were only 2 televisions in the house and one was in their room!) but somehow the point is being missed...better parenting not more censorship!!

But does that truly mean we have to whitewash our creative minds because of small-minded people who think they’re doing the world a favor? Small-minded people who think they know what’s best for everyone make me so mad!!!!

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