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: There’s a Book

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 Danielle from There’s a Book has to say.

Censorship and My Children
With the recent activity in the world of book banning and censorship, as well as a recent review I wrote, I haven’t been able to get away from this topic. So, I’m actually quite happy Pam has given me the opportunity to chat a bit about this often touchy subject.
About three months ago I read and reviewed the book Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James (You can read my review here: http://www.theresabook.com/2010/06/book-review-beautiful-malice-by-rebecca-james/). A profound book, covering topics like friendship, underage drinking and drug use, teen pregnancy, gang rape and murder, and much, much more. As an adult I found the book to be beautifully written and one I’d highly recommend to many of my friends. But upon completing the book I questioned it’s appropriateness for the young adult audience, being that it was placed in that genre. I sought out the opinions of others, friends and strangers alike, and came to no certain conclusion with one exception. Censorship, or in this case screening, is something best kept within the walls of your own home.
The books we read have a personal impact on us, individual and unique to each reader. Whether we are age ten or sixty, our reading preferences can vary from comedy to horror the way one person enjoys chocolate versus licorice. Just because I’m a chocolate person doesn’t give me the right to deny my husband his favorite black licorice treat. Nor could I deny another the privilege of their favorite author or the potential of a new book series. And even more deeply, how could I deny a person, no matter their age, the comfort and/or escape they so often long for?
Now, my children, on the other hand fall into a different category. I’m responsible for them. I care for them and hopefully teach them the things they need to know to be happy and successful in their lives. Yes, we are a religious family, in fact we happen to be Mormon. And yes, it does influence the way I live my life, how could it not? But I don’t feel my religious views give me license to inflict my beliefs on others and deny them the opportunity of making discoveries of their own. Some will argue with me on that, but that’s my opinion. If you have questions about my beliefs, feel free to ask, but I’m not going to impose them on you when you aren’t honestly seeking them out.
So how does that apply to my feelings on censorship. My beliefs as well as many of the life experiences I’ve had affect the choices I make; including what I read, the things I choose to take into my body and yes, how I parent my children (not yours). I have no more right to tell you, or someone I’ve never even met before what they (or their children) can or cannot read. By so doing it would conflict with the very core of my beliefs which center around the ability to have freedom in your choices.
Chances are, my daughter and son will not be reading Beautiful Malice until I feel they are mature enough to handle the subject matter. I grew up in a home where things like sex, drinking, doing drugs and similar topics were discussed openly and frequently. I’m hoping to carry on that tradition with my children and by so doing give them the opportunity to discuss these difficult subjects when they encounter them, whether it be in “real” life or in a book/movie. Unfortunately, not every child has the same home environment I hope to raise my children in and often books can be a huge source of strength and comfort to those seeking answers.
As someone who promotes literacy and education, how could I possibly deny a child these stories? If a parent struggles with a difficult subject and the appropriateness of it in their child, then they need to talk with their child about it and not the superintendent of the local school district. Sorry, they may “care”, but where were they when your child was learning to walk? You’ve always been there for your child, be there for them with their choices in media. Truly, if they know how you feel and have an honest relationship with you, the choice will be easy for them.

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Review: Cecilia, Memoirs of an Heiress, by Frances Burney

Fanny Burney is usually quite overlooked as an author from the old English literature names you usually hear. Everyone loves Austen, Bronte, Dickens, Defoe, and the others you always hear about but Fanny Burney wrote quite a few satire novels in the late 1700′s and early 1800′s. My favorite from her is Cecilia, or Memoirs of an heiress. I appreciate the above mentioned authors and their ability to tell a story with easy and grace, Burney however seems to keep my imagination moving and her plots are complicated while also being very interesting.

The story follows Cecilia, an heiress from Suffolk England. She has three executors to her estate as she was orphaned at an early age. Her uncle’s passing caused Cecilia to be turned over to these three men to handle her income and her social upbringing. She is forced to London to Mr. Harrell’s house and this is when her troubles begin. She is from a good country family but of course she can mix with the London nobility but could never become a part of the family. Ergo she falls madly in love without even realizing it with the son of one of her executors Mr. Delville won’t allow them to marry and after several attempts they all but completely give up. Cecilia has this awful clause in her inheritance that the man she marries must take her last name instead of her taking his. In the late 1700′s era London this would have been impossible for any man of standing. Therefore the couple have problems not only with the parents allowing the marriage but young Delville himself has a small pride issue at hand in taking her name.

In the end Cecilia is driven literally mad, and is locked in a house. Her estate is in ruins and is on the brink of being taken away from her. She has no family remaining and only has the affections of those who her inheritance can profit. This look into the late 18th century London from Burney is very descriptive and well documented. You almost feel like you are walking through the Pall Mall, and the other locations the characters visit. Never has one of the classics brought me into the book so well even with the old time English playing its part. Burney is a masterful storyteller and I truly rate this as one of my favorite novels, It bumped down Jane Eyre that was my all time favorite since I was around 14 or so. If you like classics or reading about the social customs of old England, then you should really pick up this story. I had real tears streaming from my eyes in the last three or four chapters of this book. Even with its massive length and old language it was a story I haven’t easily forgotten. The text seems to stay with you and I hope to see Burney listed with the greats of old language literature more often.

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