Banned | Banned Books and Freedom to Read

via Daily Prompt: Banned

So, this is a little late for Banned Books Week, but I say better late than never.

Many books are challenged and banned from schools yearly. A list of such books can be found here.

A few years ago, I did a project on Banned Books. I chose to read Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne to study why they were challenged and/or banned.

While I found that the reasons why these books were banned were clear and definitely present in the books, to me banning and challenging them seemed absurd.

Why are most books challenged and/or banned?

Because the content they hold is deemed “inappropriate” or “unethical”. 

You’d be surprised at some of the books that have been banned. Here are a few that I found most shocking and utterly insane:

  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. This book was banned because some parents deemed the book  “too scary” and because Max was sent to bed without supper.
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. According to the people who have challenged this book, Frodo and Sam are “demonic”.
  • The Bartimaeus Cycle by Jonathan StroudMagic is apparently linked to “demonic activity”.

As you can probably see, many of these accusations are completely absurd.

So, is banning books ethical?

Well… I’m going to bring the U.S. Constitution into this. The First Amendment reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Infringing on anyone else’s right to freedom of speech, press, religion, etc. is not permitted or allowed by the Constitution. You can exercise your freedoms in any way as long as, in doing so, you are not infringing upon anyone else’s rights.
Isn’t banning books abridging the author’s right to the freedom of speech? So why do we permit it?
The way I see it, if parents do not want their children reading certain books, that’s fine. But they need to keep those restrictions to their homes. It is not fair to take books out of libraries and schools just because you do not believe that they are ethical. That would be a restriction on everyone else’s right to read those books.

What are your thoughts on the banning, challenging, and censoring of books?

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