Teenagers are reading more books than ever now, and some people say that we have Harry Potter to thank. But surrounding teen books is the ‘myth’ of book banning. Some may think that only old books were banned, and that they are now back on the shelves of schools and libraries around the country. This is not so. Not only have old classics such as The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger been banned, but newer books are being challenged as well. The controversy of book banning stems from the pursuit of knowledge.
Though Hitler did many bad things in his lifetime schools still teach about the Holocaust, and yet now parents are requesting that their children do not learn what certain books have to offer in the way of knowledge. But some parents do not stop there. Books are being taken off school shelves, depriving all students instead of just one. Can one person influence a whole school or town? Is this even fair to everyone involved? The answer is no. Book banning should be illegal because reading a book is an individual choice, some books are banned without much thought, and sometimes books are banned without all parties involved reading it.
People recommend books to each other all the time, but reading books is another matter. Sure, a friend may say that a book is good but that doesn’t mean that you will read it. But by banning books schools and libraries are taking away the choice to read the book whether it was recommended or not. While some people think that foul language in books is a perfectly logical reason to take them off the shelves not everyone shares this idea. But if libraries and schools only hear one group’s side of the story they are more likely to ban the book.
The process of banning a book seems at first to be simple. A parent (probably the most common case) goes to their child’s school and gets a form with several boxes to check off: “Do not assign this book to my child. Withdraw it from all students as well as my child. Send it back to the proper department for reevaluation. ” And then: What do you object to in this book? What material do you recommend to replace this book? Sounds rather easy, right? And then there’s the vote. In some cases those voting on the outcome haven’t read the book.
If the book is banned what example are schools setting for the students? They are basically saying that it is alright to take knowledge, no matter what it is, away from someone or several people. Would it be right to not teach anyone about Hitler? Would everyone support lessons about wars and discrimination being removed? Most likely not. But when books are banned that is what schools are doing, they are taking away something that was never theirs in the first place. They are labeling something inappropriate based on their beliefs or the beliefs of one person.
And this is undermining the individual’s choice to read the book. And sometimes they seem to not realize what they are even doing. If you look up why some books have been banned in the past it’s likely that you will find some pretty crazy reasons. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger was banned by one group of parents because they thought it would turn their kids into communists. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding was challenged because it demoted humankind to the level of animals. 1984 by George Orwell was banned because it was pro-communist.
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien was banned for being ‘satanic. ‘ More recently the book The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson is being challenged in an Oklahoma school for being inappropriate for teenagers. According to the mother of a student at the school the book has “Homosexual content, unprotected sex, underage drinking, and reckless promiscuity” and that is why the book should be banned. Though these can all be viewed as appropriate reasons to ban a book those who took this claim seriously seem not to have connected all the clues.
The book in question does have homosexual content, as does the real world that teens live in everyday, but there is not sex in the book, unprotected or not. The mother also states that the book “has no moral fiber” which is not true. The Bermudez Triangle is the story of three girls and their friendship when two get into a relationship together. No moral fiber? But instead of taking these things into account, the book was removed from the shelves. This case could turn into countless others all over the United States and it needs to be stopped.
Taking away a book without even assessing the reasons to see if they make sense when applied to the book is lazy and unfair to the author and those who want to read the book. Taking a book off the shelves because several or all parties involved want to is a bad thing, but what if only one person objected to the book? How is that fair to the rest of the people it affects? If one person said they didn’t want to go to a movie but five others wanted to what would happen? If one person didn’t want someone to be president in the United States but the majority did what would happen?
The outcomes of these two situations are relatively the same in general because the United States is based on Democracy. But what if the situation was this: What if one person thought a book was inappropriate for children and the rest had never read the book but still had to decide? What would happen? In some cases those voting on the book’s banning (usually the principle of the school, the Director of Human Resources and the Director of Instruction) have not even read the book. And what position does this put the book in? A bad one, that’s for sure.
If only one person has read the book and are complaining about it then what are the others to think? That the book should be banned of course! This is by no means fair to students, the author, or any other patrons of the library. It is blindly stealing knowledge from others and not acknowledging it. It is, in essence, like teaching that Martin Luther King Jr. was a bad person because he held marches but not telling why he was holding marches because you don’t even know. It is informing someone (or misinforming someone) because you have no idea what you are talking about, which is better known as lying.
The Bill of Rights says “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;” Banning books is certainly not keeping with this statement. Freedom of the press includes books, and taking books off the shelves is therefore prohibiting the reading of them. This makes book banning against the Bill of Rights and unconstitutional. If the United States keeps book banning legal the country is going against its very own fiber – that people have certain rights, that the press has rights, and that this freedom is important.
A parent keeping their own child from reading something is their decision, but to deprive their child of reading for their education is not in any way wise or good, and keeping other students and children from reading books is just as bad. Book banning should be illegal because reading is an individual’s decision, banning books is often done without much thought or reason, and sometimes book banning is done unfairly because those voting on the book’s banning have not read the book in question. Teaching children to steal is thought of as wrong, and a country built on freedom should not permit any stealing, much less the stealing on knowledge.