Censorship: My take

cen·sor·ship
–noun
1. the act or practice of censoring.
2. the office or power of a censor.
3. the time during which a censor holds office.
4. the inhibiting and distorting activity of the Freudian censor.

Censorship has lots of different definitions. To me it boils down to something pretty simple. The act of censoring materials, beliefs or media is a tyrant activity. To actively seek to destroy, remove or eradicate anything just because it doesn’t bode well with you and your beliefs is a selfish and cowardly way to handle things that you do not agree with.

I don’t like a lot of things. White chocolate for instance. I hate that stuff, and it’s not really chocolate anyway. Do I start a campaign to rid America or the world of this dastardly imposer? Absolutely not. Some people actually eat that garbage and enjoy it.

Now you may say what does chocolate have to do with books, books that have sex, drugs, and (gasp) gay protagonists? Nothing. However taking these materials out of libraries, out of the hands of people who are in no way connected to your life or beliefs weighs at the same ridiculousness as a proposed ban on white chocolate to me.

To take books such as, Twilight, Wintergirls, Crank, and Luv Ya Bunches out of the hands of teens because you don’t think any teen should read them is ridiculous. Are you the parent or guardian of every teen on the planet? Absolutely not.

Just because you do not agree with materials doesn’t inherently make the materials wrong. It makes it wrong to you and your family, not mine. You see I have a plan, my plan involves my children being able to read any material that they want. I want it ready and available for them anywhere they look. I want this because I trust my children.

I talk to them. We discuss things, we are a team. I trust them to make the right decisions, to be humanitarians, to tell me things that they read that made them think or that they need clarification on. I will encourage them to read outside of their comfort zones, to push the limits of their beliefs and have an open mind to any culture.

Through learning only are we free. If you want to live in a box that you have created for yourself that only includes x and y that is fine. Leave me and mine out of it.

What do you think reader? Do you have a plan for censorship in home?

I would like to thank Amy, Danielle, Gail, Susan, & Tasha for weighing in. Their pieces were fantastic. Go read them already.

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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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Censorship Week: Susan from Waste Paper Prose

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?

What Susan from Waste Paper Prose has to say:

I’m a first amendment kind of girl. I’m an express-yourself-and-don’t-give-a-damn-what-other-people-think kind of girl. And admittedly, I’m the kind of girl who doesn’t hold back when I’ve got something to say, even when it could get me in trouble.

Opinions matter. They generate debate and spawn ideas. They shake up the status quo, force people to take a deeper look at issues, and hold the potential for solution and innovation. The problem is that sometimes people aren’t terribly keen on hearing the opinions of others.

Therein lies the root of censorship.

It’s a phenomenon that has always fascinated me. Whenever anything forces people to look at something they don’t want to see or consider a point of view that’s not their own then eradication always seems to be the answer. Eliminate the offending material. Wipe it off the face of the Earth. Sweep it under the rug. Forget about it. And most importantly, never consider the possibility that you could learn something.

Trouble is that the quest to do away whatever it is usually creates more buzz. I know my ears perk up when I hear about any instance of censorship. They have since I was a teenager. If it was off limits then I had to see what the big deal was.

That’s how I found Forever by Judy Blume. It was in the top ten on the American Library Association’s list of most challenged books for a decade solid, from 1990-2000, because it contained suggestive language and depictions of teenage sexuality and sexual intercourse. Learning it had been challenged sealed the deal for me. I had to read it. When I did, I wasn’t the least bit shocked or offended. Why? Because it felt real.

In retrospect, the moment I finished that book might have been the same one in which I came to understand that just because something is challenged, censored or banned doesn’t mean that it’s inherently bad. In most cases, it just means that the book, or whatever the item in question may be, pushed boundaries and that someone, somewhere was offended by it.

By no means am I advocating for every controversial book in existence nor am I saying that everyone will value these books or find insight in their pages. What I am saying is censorship isn’t an absolute. It’s the product of opinions. It’s someone saying “you shouldn’t read this because I don’t approve of it”.

Ultimately, you have to make up your own mind.

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Censorship Week: My Friend Amy

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 Amy from My Friend Amy has to say:

One of the things I most love about reading is that it is a low risk way to confront my prejudices. Often, going into a book, I have no idea that some of my ideas about life or people might be challenged. I might not realize that I’ll be asked to slip into the mind of someone very different from myself and feel the things they feel as they experience a variety of situations I may never experience. I really believe that reading fiction allows me to become a more sympathetic person.

This is one of the reasons I cannot tolerate the idea of censorship. Granted, I have always read what I wanted to read. It’s a freedom I do not take for granted, especially as I’m learning more and more about book banning. Censorship is a form of control that should not be tolerated in our society. Censorship is when one person or groups of people try to shape the information intake and thus the way another group of people thinks. This usually benefits a majority rules type mindset. This is particularly cruel, because books are often where we first discover we are truly not alone.

Are books a cause for fear? Well yes. Because reading by its very nature encourages thought, sympathy, empathy, imagination, and the changing of one’s mind. If you are seeking a world uniform in thought, a world that is grey, where injustice goes unnoticed, and everyone is exactly the same then books are the most terrifying objects there are. Books contain the the story of us, of all of us, humans working out our different situations through artistry, trying to make sense of the messy, holy, mystery of life. But no book is a simple object and no reading experience invites a uniform response. Each individual responds and reacts to what they find in the pages of a book in a way that is unique to them.

Living in this world is hard. There is no reason to make it harder by trying to control the way we think, by barring books that express a different worldview from ours from the shelves, by robbing ourselves of the chance to feel a little more human compassion for one another, to feel angry by injustice, to feel empowered to realize we are not alone. Can’t we put aside our fear and instead open our ears and start talking to one another instead?

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Banned Books Challenge

@BiblioBrat is hosting a challenge over on her blog Thebibliobrat.net to encourage bloggers and those interested challenged or banned works to read more of these titles. Banned and challenged books are a hot button issue for a lot of us in the book world. So show your support head on over and join the challenge and pick a banned or challenged book to read. I will be reading The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follet for the challenge. When I am done reading I will let you know why it was challenged and if I agree with the reasoning.

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