Next week, September 30-October 6th, is Banned Books Week!
I'm an author. I've done a lot of editing for newspapers, books, copy- I've covered the bases. I've managed a university radio station. I've written political copy. A politician attempted to sue me over truthful written commentary, content that was protected by the First Amendment. I understand censorship.
I've dealt with the issues raised by the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) when my DJs wanted to play the "heavy metal" music in the late '80s that would pass for pop now. The PMRC was founded in part because Tipper Gore, wife of Al Gore, Senator and later, Vice President, heard the Prince Song, "Darling Nicki," while with her daughter and was highly offended. Tipper and other patrons of banality formed the group and the battle was on.
|Tipper Gore's PMRC Legacy|
But alas, fear over the FCC swooping in and grabbing our license found me meeting with jocks and discussing playlists. Over and over, I heard "censorship." That was just the beginning.
But I digress.
Books make us think. I'm becoming a strong believer in the theory that censors don't really care about the subject matter- they just don't want others to think for themselves. Some parents, self-appointed moral guardians and self-appointed religious experts think that if you allow a fourteen year-old to read a book mentioning masturbation, menstration, sex and relationships, it might give them the wrong ideas.
Shocking news- most fourteen year-olds rank schoolwork at about 56 on their personal interest list, with the first four subjects I mentioned taking, well, the first three spots (sex and relationships generally tie for first).
|I was 14 when I read|
Forever. I remember
wondering why people
wanted to ban it?
Teenagers face challenges in their lives- drug and alcohol abuse, the breakdown of the family, questions about sex and their sexuality, figuring out who they are and their place in the world. Books help them to understand they are not alone in their quest for their identity.
But our children aren't the only ones allegedly being "protected" by the censors. In February of 1989, the late Ayatollah Rudollah Khomeini, then-spiritual leader of Iran proclaimed a Fatwa, requiring author Salman Rusdie to be executed because his book, Satanic Verses, was "blasphemous" against Islam.
|Imagine a story allegedly|
so offensive it's author is
under a death sentence for
writing the book.
Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator of Verses, was stabbed to death, while Italian translator Ettore Capriolo and Norwegian Publisher William Nygaard have both been attacked and seriously injured. Rusdie remains a target of the Fatwa death sentence to this day.
|"Holden Caulfield is |
only a frozen moment
in time" - JD Salinger
|...the lost thoughts.|
And the demands for censorship continue. "The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test" and "Prep" were both in the cross hairs of would-be book banners in the East Penn School District, just outside Allentown, PA, within the last couple of weeks.
Rather than allowing people to read books and form their own opinions, the book banners demand we deny our intelligence and demand our children do the same. Rather than getting together with their kids and discussing the drug use in "Kool Aid" or the sexual issues of "Prep," the banners would rather we sweep these issues under the rug. An unmentionable issue apparently doesn't exist.
I could be wrong. Maybe it's laziness or a fear that talking with our children will encourage them to use drugs and be promiscuous, because certainly, the failure to address these issues in the past has led to a better society that these evil books threaten.
Then she mentioned the chapter involving child abuse, something that never happens in the real world. "The graphic content would have the censors ripping pages out," Margie commented.
I never even considered the abuse of children as something to be censored. Hell, I'd stand on a steet corner banging a drum about it if I could prevent some of the stuff I've seen and heard about. I said as much out loud, in my own low-key way (one soap box for rent, heavily used).
"Yeah, Dad," Miranda jumped in. I'm only in high school, where everyone is a virgin and no one uses drugs. How could we be permitted to find out child abuse happens? I'm appalled at your lack of helicopter parenting. I may have to call YES on you."
Our daughter the sarcastic smartass activist. Did I mention vegetarian? Margie and I are so proud!
When it comes to controlling the minds of others, there's no threat to the book banners' control like a gay character and a few fucks. After all, blatant free thought can only lead to all of us all becoming homosexuals who curse all day (Margie, in her infinite wisdom, said, "what the fuck's wrong with that?")
The problem apparently is, that could lead to a country of people actually capable of the greatest freedom of all, thinking for ourselves.
Take a moment this week, read a banned book and celebrate freedom by discussing that book with your family and friends.
* Banner reprinted by permission of the American Library Association
If you haven't already done so, click on the title for a free copy of Thirty and Two, and a sample of In Another Life!
And after you finish the sample, don't forget to buy a copy of In Another Life!
I received my first five star review on Amazon.com for "In Another Life" this week. In the midst of life, few things make an author pause like a good review. Suddenly, the world is fresh, new and alive! For that, I simply say to my reader, "thanks!"