By Sean Chercover
“If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”
- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
I don’t want to get on a soapbox here. Really, I don't. But as America threatens to descend into Theocrazy (get it? "Theocrazy." Ha!), perhaps we should pause long enough to celebrate Banned Books Week.
Sponsored by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, the Association of American Publishers, and a handful of other fine organizations (and endorsed by the Library of Congress), Banned Books Week attempts to draw our attention to an ongoing threat to our intellectual freedom.
The thing is, thousands of groups of our fellow citizens have appointed themselves as America’s moral guardians. These groups want to protect the rest of us from ideas that they have deemed Evil.
As you might expect, these Evil Ideas are found in Very Dangerous Books. And our self-appointed moral guardians want to protect us by having these Dangerous Books banned from public libraries and school libraries. And the really frightening thing is, their efforts occasionally meet with success.
Here are a few titles, from the top-100 challenged books (1990-2000):
To Kill A Mockingbird
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Of Mice And Men
The Catcher In The Rye
In The Night Kitchen (Seriously, I kid you not.)
The Color Purple
Brave New World
James And The Giant Peach
Lord of The Flies
Song Of Solomon
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
. . .and so on.
It may seem odd to “celebrate” Banned Books Week, but the idea is to celebrate the books, not the idiots who would like to revoke the First Amendment.
So please follow the links in this post, and read Banned Books Week section of the ALA website.
And unless you have something better planned this week, (like, say, burning a witch, or using the constitution for toilet paper) please consider stopping by your local library and checking out a couple of the books on the list.
I'll get off my soapbox now.