Burn, Baby, Burn…
Ah, so I wasn’t going to get into this as I’m, you know, trying so very hard to keep my blood pressure down, here. I feel like I’m going to regret it if I don’t play along, though so here I am, trying not to get too riled up.
So what is the “this” that I’m referring to? Well, check out this fabulous link from the ALA web site on Banned Books. Oh yes, “that” thing.
Banned and/or Challenged Books from the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century
I mean, we’ve got sex, drugs, violence and good old fashioned, state bashing Communism. It’s just a rip roaring party but unfortunately high school students and college students aren’t invited. Wait, what’s that? College kids can’t handle a little bit of between the sheets action? High school kids shouldn’t be reading about various forms of political formations? Come on, people, this is why books are written and why literature classes are held.
I guess I was raised with a good old healthy dose of rationalism and therefore take literature as an author’s expression of his or her thoughts, not, you know, like a “this is absolutely how one should live life and you must obey” credo statement. Now, hold up if I’m wrong but I just have to think that this radical way of looking at books has got to be held by people other than me.
I’m not saying that very important topics like sex, drugs and Communism should not be discussed at length if they are being read by young folks. In fact, I think that it is exactly that (discussion of such topics) that is needed when preteens, teens and young adults hit these ideas. They’re going to run up against them, whether from friends, music or Jersey Shore so covering them with ample room for discussion and question is probably a good idea. By banning books and banning topics like these, wishing that they’ll just never come up if we turn a blind eye, we’re doing the exact opposite of protecting our children.
Of course, again, I had a rather atypical childhood in that I watched Gandhi and Roots in middle school, understood what Communism was when I was 11 and went to political rallies well, younger than that. I listened to NPR and Bob Dylan and other scandalous things. Do I think it hurt me? Well, let’s see, I didn’t go on a killing spree, didn’t join a cult, didn’t move to Russia in the 80’s, have only managed to conceive very planned children with my spouse of six years and have managed to stay off the no-fly list. So no, no I don’t.
Will I raise my boys the same way? Yes, yes I will. Will I continue to support those fighting the good fight to keep literature a free art form and books on our school shelves? Yes I will.
Will I go lie down now and not get so worked up about the very thing that banned book Fahrenheit 451 outlined so well? Yes, yes I will. While I won’t regulate my children’s reading, I will regulate my blood pressure. Deep breath and good hopes for the fight ahead.