Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Banned books

Powells has a list of children's books that were banned somewhere or the other at some point in time. Scrolling through list, most of the reasons were obvious (not good reasons mind, but obvious as to why some people objected), but then I came upon Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. What the hell problem did people have with that book? Well it seems that Steig used different animals for all the jobs, and guess what? The police were pigs. Now who knows if he was making some sort of statement or not. The police are presented as helpful investigators rather than harsh oppressors so I am surprised people got so bent out of shape.

Do we need to think about banned books at all? At this point, are there any banned books in the United States? I imagine there are regional libraries that have run into problems. I am not saying we shouldn't swat down attempts to ban books, but the whole idea of doing so seem so fringe at this point. Then again the American Library Association reports that these books are common banning targets. I do believe we need to promote the idea that unpopular ideas should be protected, and challenged by argumentation rather than silencing.

I should note that the people who walk around with banned book T-shirts proclaiming that kids are smart enough to understand challenging arguments are the same people who think ROTC should be banned from campuses because college students are somehow not smart enough to do the cost-benefit analysis of joining the military.

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