Don’t Ban What You Don’t Understand

Courtesy of Teens Can Write, Too!, I remembered that September 30th to October 6th is Banned Books Week 2012! I’d wanted to write about this topic, so thanks for reminding me! I’ve already written about banning books before, so this post will be about a different aspect of book banning.

Specifically, why people ban books.

I think that people who ban books don’t really understand them.

Admittedly, there are some controversial books dealing with all sorts of unsavory topics. However, at least in the United States, we have the First Amendment, which gives us the right to choose our own reading material. No, it doesn’t specifically say that, but it does say that we have freedom of speech and freedom of the press – even if someone finds a book to be icky, they can’t ban it because not everyone feels the same way.

Not only do book-banners fail to realize this, they also do not realize that by their very nature, controversial books encourage thought about controversial material. This isn’t a bad thing; it helps us to sort out our world. What do we believe about violence and love and religion, for example? The answer is not simple because there are many people in the world and therefore many opinions. But that’s where books come in. They help us to figure out which we individually believe.

So there we have it: books are banned because people ignore the First Amendment, they don’t realize that books makes us think, and sometimes, these people just don’t have a clue what these books are really about.

Oh, by the way, click on the posters to enlarge them. The two middle images wanted to be either small or absolutely huge, so I went with small.

Granted, I’m not sure what version of Alice In Wonderland the book-banners were reading. I’ve never been able to find the secret naughty edition – perhaps all copies were successfully destroyed? In all seriousness though, I must either be a total idiot not to have picked up on sexual symbolism/whatever or some people must be reading far too much into this book. To me, Alice In Wonderland is a lovely tale of a young girl’s odd adventure in an odd land meeting even odder people. Why was it ever banned?

I haven’t read the Lord Of The Rings series all the way through yet, so I’m not sure exactly what it’s so bad. Liam and Miriam, I know you love the series, so please enlighten me. The poster says that people don’t like that it becuse of the witchcraft. News flash, people: witchcraft does not exist. As fun as magic is to read about, I don’t believe in it at all. I think it’s kind of a fundamental of banning that whatever you’re banning has to actually exist. Go Frodo!

If you’re an intelligent human being who hasn’t been living under a rock, then you’ve probably heard about Harry Potter being banned and expected me to include here, especially since I’m such a huge fan. You were probably not expecting it to get banned for sexual orientation stuff, were you? Well, neither could I. When I first saw this poster, I peered at it closely, sure I’d just misread it. I mean, if you’re going to ban it for something, why not ban it for its characters’ use of magic for evil purposes? Dumbledore being gay isn’t even in the books; J.K. Rowling only talked about it in an interview. Personally, I’m leaning towards the side that says he was gay – the reason I’m not completely there is that I dislike it when authors reveal information after their series are complete. I nearly choked when I read the small print, which may or may not be a joke. (I’m not sure because have you heard some of the stuff Sarah Palin has said?) “In a nationally televised address [former] President [George] Bush said he would devote the rest of his term to obtaining a constitutional amendment banning marriage between fictitious gay characters.” Bush, you’re one of the reasons I sometimes wish I hadn’t been born an American. Out of all the issues you could’ve talked about, like the economy or the environment or terrorism or something actually important, you talked about this? Who cares if a fictitious wizard snogs another guy? That’s not the point of the series.

Currently, one of the most controversial series is the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Yes, these three books are very violent. A twelve-year-old dies of a stab wound; a slightly older teenager is eaten by dogs shortly after another is stung to death by mutant wasps; a man is beheaded by lizards. And yet I cannot for the life of me imagine how someone could read Catching Fire and say, “This book teaches that murder, violence, and evil goverments are good!” The books are violent, but they’re violent to prove a point. One of the best reasons I have ever seen for our need to cooperate now is the Hunger Games. We don’t want out world to end up like this. The series is a critique of our culture’s extravagant lifestyle; it also shows us the horrors of violence and their effect on children. It shows us that these are terrible things, not that we should do these things.

Stand up against banning books for any reason and think for yourself! What are your favorite banned books?

About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
This entry was posted in Books and Reading!, Harry Potter, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Don’t Ban What You Don’t Understand

  1. Miriam Joy says:

    Since Gandalf is a wizard, many who haven’t read the series think that the Lord of the Rings is promoting magic. (To which I respond – dude, it’s high fantasy, what do you really expect?) Personally, I think it’s ridiculous. Leaving aside the fact that it’s an epic good/evil story about people triumphing over forces of darkness, it was also written by a Catholic.
    Hmm. Satanic indeed. Naughty Tolkien.

  2. Mary says:

    Perhaps the whole of Alice in Wonderland was one huge allegory about sexuality? Who knows. That part about President Bush banning fictional characters’ same-sex marriage actually made me laugh. That’s not what presidents are for, Mister Bush.

    Don’t be ashamed of being an American! You have way better human rights there than in some countries I could mention, at least.

  3. It’s hard to say. It’s been several years since I read Alice In Wonderland, but possibly the eating/drinking, her changing of size, and relationship with the Queen of Hearts could be seen as sexual metaphors, although I don’t really agree with that reading. That said, the original edition was published in 1865 so in considering why books are banned, you have to remember the historical context.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Hmmm? Relationship with the Queen of Hearts?

      • In terms of how the characters interact, yes. Some literary critics have seen the Queen as feeling threatened by Alice–her decree of “Off with her head” could be taken to mean maidenhead, or virginity.

        Again, I don’t know how much I subscribe to that interpretation of Alice in Wonderland, but it may explained the Banned Books Week poster.

  4. Also: I’m happy to see a young person reading science fiction like Hunger Games as commentary on current culture. Science fiction is rarely predictive (on purpose) and is almost always a statement on current affairs.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Yay! It just seems like such an obvious commentary because we already have the weird TV show and extravagance. I mean, look at any celebrity today; they’re almost all as weird as people in the Capitol.

  5. magicfishy says:

    The fact that Harry Potter and LotR were both written by Christians (I think?) amuses me. Also, I didn’t know that LotR was banned. Huh. Loving that Capitol poster…

    (The small text about Bush LOOKS like a joke to me, but who can say?

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