By Sean Chercover
Ah, the familiar signs of autumn’s gentle approach . . . children playing in the schoolyard . . . the slight chill in the night air . . . the woodsy smell of burning books . . .
Leaves. I mean burning leaves, of course. After all, what kind of idiot would burn books? Probably the same kind of idiot who would try to ban books. The kind of idiot who would demand that libraries and schools and bookstores limit your reading options to only those books that do not threaten said idiot’s worldview.
Yes, it’s Banned Books Week once again, and I’m gonna jump up and down and wave my hands about it, like I do every year. The mouth-breathers haven’t stopped trying to control what we can read, so we can’t stop either. Eternal vigilance, and all that jazz…
The thing is, thousands of groups of our fellow citizens 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 run around demanding that these Dangerous Books be banned from public libraries and school libraries. And the really frightening thing is, their efforts sometimes meet with success.
From 2000-2005, there were over 3,000 organized attempts to remove books from schools and public libraries. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Harry Potter novels topped the list of evil books. Also in the top ten were Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou.
Here are a few more 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 (really)
The Color Purple
Brave New World
James And The Giant Peach
Lord of The Flies
Song Of Solomon
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Sponsored by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, the Association of American Publishers, The Office for Intellectual Freedom, 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.
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.
Free People Read Freely.