Censorship Week: Tasha from Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books

Welcome to Bookalicious and Censorship week. We all know I am a huge advocate for censoring in your own home and leaving others to do what they wish in their own. Instead of giving you post after post of my own opinion, I wanted to bring in some other awesome bloggers to give us their take on censorship and what it means to them personally and their thoughts on what it means to us as a society. Humans through the ages have always banned, censored, rallied against, and protested anything that fell beyond their comfort zones. Whether that zone is in place due to religion, upbringing, or personal morals I have never understood the need to force others to your mentality. As bloggers we have the platform to be anti-censorship. To be a flagship of open content and doing and saying on our own blogs what we see fit. We must outwardly oppose censorship of any piece of literature, even if we are censoring it in our own homes. What if we are the next to be censored? Freedom of journalistic integrity and blogging taken away. What then?

Here is what Tasha from Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books has to say:

Read No Evil

A few weeks ago, Farley’s Bookshop Blog had a post titled “Most People Don’t Want to Read,” an essay by William Hastings. Hastings posited that people don’t want their ideas and world views to be challenged, so they either don’t read or read pablum that they know will reinforce their world view.

As a reader, especially someone who reads what Hastings would undoubtedly label “summer reading,” I found his thesis offensive. Who is he to decide what will and won’t challenge people’s world views, to decide what’s worth reading? Just the act of reading fiction is a submission of one’s viewpoint to that of someone else, at least for a time, and thus is an acknowledgement that experiences outside of one’s ken are valuable–even if they do in the end wind up reinforcing a personal viewpoint.

However, I do think the post is pertinent when talking about censorship.

As various anecdotes prove, the most virulent supporters of censoring books wouldn’t read the books they want to censor if they were last pieces of writing on the planet. They don’t want their world view challenged. They don’t want the books to tempt them or their friends and family. These people are obviously fringe elements, however, and rarely have a lasting impact.

The issue with most societies is there are things that the vast majority of people would object to off-hand without ever considering it. Sometimes these things make sense, like child prostitution or incest. But whether they make sense or not isn’t the point–the point is, if confronted with a taboo, most people don’t want to confront it, consider it, or read about it. It’s wrong, period.

But that’s where the role of genre comes in. Genre provides a structure to reinforce our favorite societal myths–romance and Westerns being two particularly appropriate examples. They are comforting reads of the sort which Hastings would undoubtedly deride. But subversive elements swish through the waters of that comforting, reinforcing framework. People of different classes and races mixing together, changing of genre roles, incest, and question of what is bad and what is good are all things that can be found in genre novels. No, they may not confront issues outright–but then if they did who would read them, or who would publish them?

So in a way, Hastings is right–people don’t want to read things that challenge them too much. Even the most liberal of human beings has a line; people should have lines. But the books he dismisses as an utter waste of brainpower are not. More people listen to a whisper than a shout, and a book someone enjoys is more likely to make an impact on them. In the end, Hastings’ manifesto is its own sort of censorship, reserving books for an educated intelligentsia who can afford to criticize many things from their ivory towers and ignore the fact that they have their own taboos.

But books aren’t just for smart people, or rich people. Books are for everyone.

So read–just read. And don’t let anyone ever tell you what you should and shouldn’t be reading.

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6 Responses so far

  1. Gravatar

    Thank you for inviting me to post today, Pam!

  2. Gravatar

    Hear, hear!
    Self censorship is the way to go in terms of written material. If it upsets you then don’t read it.
    We have to assume that adults are quite capable of deciding what is suitable for themselves.

  3. Gravatar

    Well said, Tasha! I totally agree. I consider myself to be a smart person and I know good writing when I read it, but that doesn’t stop me from reading books that “other” people might deem “an utter waste of brainpower” to use your words. I enjoy the Twilight series, but the next day, you might find me reading War and Peace. That’s just how I read!

  4. Gravatar

    What a great post!-I don’t think it matters what you read as long as you read it.

  5. Gravatar

    I agree with you Tasha. There may definitely be books, genres etc that I don’t want to read, but if others want to do that, they should knock themselves out, no matter what the subject of the book. Fully against any kind of book censoring, even though I may not agree with the subject at all.

  6. Gravatar

    Censorship and why it happens are such complex issues. I teach in a REALLY sheltered community in Utah and find that I have to push my students just a teeny bit to get them out of their bubble. I think you’re restatement about Hasting’s comment about people wanting to stay comfortable is so true. Maybe that’s why I love my job though, because once a difficult book is discussed with others, some understanding begins. I’ve seen my students go from sheltered aversion to intellectual curiosity (which I love). I agree that in the end, a reader needs to just read, and if they feel their buttons pushed a little they ought to questions themselves on why their being pushed to begin with!

    Great post. :)

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