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Memories of the 28th Century

Banning Books

Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.
I noticed that this is Banned Books Week, so I looked at the ALA (American Library Association) website to see what they have about it. It includes lists of banned books, and it brought tears to my eyes. For the decade 2001 Ė 2010 the Harry Potter series leads the list as the most banned in the U.S. I only read the first four, so I donít know how good the rest are, but the ones I read were very good. It isnít literature for the centuries, but itís better than the Hardy Boys and right up there with Edgar Rice Burroughs books.

As I understand it, most books are banned for sexual or religious reasons. Some people donít think that sexually related material should be available in public libraries, and I can almost understand that, but not quite. I understand that the Harry Potter Series was banned because it involves magic and is unchristian, or something like that. If it were unchristian and had real magic, then it might make sense for it to be banned, but the magic is phony, so it doesn't work, so there is no danger in having it published. And the values in the Harry Potter books are very Christian.

I don't understand how people decided what books to ban. I just clicked on the banned classics link, and that had a link to the reasons for challenges and bannings. That is very interesting. Number one on the banned classics is The Great Gatsby, which I thought was rather mild in most ways. Number two on the list is Catcher in the Rye, which I never read, because it sounded so dull, but there are references to sexual activity in it, and it wasn't written for teenaged persons, so what. The third on the list surprised me; it is The Grapes of Wrath, which I read quite a long time ago and found rather boring. I regarded it as a novel aimed at social and economic inequality, which is something I shrug at; what do people expect? The next one, To Kill a Mockingbird, was more of a surprise, because it is rather namby-pamby, but the list of bannings is rather long.

Of the top ten the only one I would ban is The Lord of the Flies, but I would ban that, because it isn't very good. Ulysses has a short list, but it was burned in the U.S., Canada, Ireland, and the UK. I'm sure that improved the sales in other places. I also find it interesting the Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises was burned by Nazi Germany; another great way to increase sales.

Naked Lunch only made it to seventy-three on the list, and there's something to offend almost anyone in that book; it is great. Looking at that brought me near to where Cat's Cradle was listed. It was banned by the Strongsville, Ohio School Board from school libraries. That school board also shows up a few more times for banning other books, so it might be a local pastime. Speaking of Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five has been challenged in many communities, and it was burned in Drake, ND (1973). A lot of people seem to have had problems with that great book; that's their loss.

I wanted to look at a few particular books, but I think that the list and the reasons make interesting but not very pleasant reading. An interesting example of censorship that isn't mentioned on the ALA lists is the matter of Wilhelm Reich and some of his writings. By court order six tons of his books were burned, apparently because some people disagreed with him to the point of calling it fraud. But that's another issue.

Keep in mind the great books that have been banned and try to keep that from happening again, even though there's probably an attempt to ban something going on at this moment. If you are in a position to ban books, then keep in mind that banning books makes them more interesting and desirable to most people.