Censorship and the Banning of Books 

Categories: Censorship

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee all have one thing in common: all of these books, and many others, have been challenged and banned in schools and libraries all over the world (Gomez). Book banning has been a popular solution to getting rid of books that people deem “dangerous” or “inappropriate” for years, but it really spiked up in popularity around the 1980s (“Banned Books Week”).

Since then, books have been challenged and banned from libraries and schools due to LGBTQ+ themes, sexual explicitness, drug use, and countless other topics (Gomez). However, book banning is not an entirely useful process. While it might look good at first glance, book banning is essentially censorship; it is a less violent version of the book burnings from Ancient China and the Holocaust. It’s been such a big issue that authors like Ray Bradbury have even written books like Fahrenheit 451 to warn the public about the dangers of outlawing books.

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Book banning should not be practiced because it restricts information, limits freedom from the average person, and doesn’t even have the positive effects of protecting people.

Books have been an important way people have recorded information for years, and limiting books would mean restricting the information that is stored inside of them. When Montag asked Faber what books could bring them in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, he replied, “Number one, I said, is quality of information” (40). The loss of this crucial information would have drastic negative impacts on the lives of the people in the society.

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For instance, there are a fair amount of books that contain the history of the world, and without them it would be awfully easy to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. If someone banned all the books on the Holocaust for their violence, it would be all too easy for something that violent to happen again, and no one would be able to recognize the warning signs (“Book Burning”). In addition, loss of information also affects the way people make decisions. When one doesn’t have all the information, by choice or by force, decisions that one makes aren’t as reliable and aren’t always what one would have decided had they known the full extent of the information. Montag from Fahrenheit 451 is a good example of this; in the beginning of the book, he was a happy fireman, setting alight people’s houses and belongings, but once he learned of what books really contain instead of believing whatever he was spoon-fed by Beatty, he changed his mind and instead turned on the firemen he once worked alongside (Bradbury 1). If Montag had known all of the information in the beginning, he would likely have made different choices and gone down a different path with his life; if he’d never learned the information at all, he would have stayed a fireman and kept doing something he would have hated for his entire career. Fahrenheit 451’s characters and plot show the dangers of having censorship and book banning, and it especially touches on the topic of loss of information. In the book it shows that book banning would take information away from people that deserve to have, and would make life much harder due to it.

By choosing which books can be read by the public, an authority figure is restricting their freedom and not allowing them to make decisions for themselves. Freedom is a value that America has been built on, but banning books is a direct opposition to that freedom. Not only is it morally against what the United States is said to stand for, it also gives authority a dangerous amount of power. Demonstrated in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, when a government is able to control what the public reads and experiences, it is able to control how they think (Bradbury). By getting rid of books and spreading the belief that they are bad, the government and the firemen in the world of Fahrenheit 451 eliminated their people’s abilities to protest; if someone doesn’t know that there is anything better, they will be satisfied. The citizens in Fahrenheit 451 thought that what they had was the best there was, so they thought they were happy (Bradbury 4). There are many instances in history that have had totalitarian rulers destroying books about topics that might endanger their power and the contentedness of their civilians; censorship is another way people secure their rule over other people (“Burning”; “Book Burning”). Book banning also brings up the rather important question of who should decide what books to ban. Every person has different beliefs based on how one was raised, the information that they were taught, and their life experiences, especially in America with its many different cultures all clashing in one large country. If books are banned based on one person’s views, then it is unfair to the other groups, and it would be virtually impossible to ban every book that could possibly offended anyone, as discussed in Fahrenheit 451 by Beatty (Bradbury 26). When the city began to get rid of works that insulted other people’s values, literature was left dry and boring and soon dropped in popularity. The values that people would ban books on will also change over time; if a book contains information viewed as harmful right now, in twenty years it might become the norm, but the book would still be banned, or a least viewed with a negative mindset. The loss of freedom that is accompanied by banning books is so totally against America’s values that it doesn’t make sense why it is still allowed, since it limits the freedoms and rights of a person, and gives too much power to authority.

Some people argue that banning books is worthwhile because it protects the innocent from information that could potentially hurt them. While this point might have been valid a hundred years ago, in this day in age it is ineffective. With the surface of the internet, information has become easy to access and abundant (Woollaston). However, due to the fact that the internet has become so large, the information that people would like to ban from books is also easily accessible to the masses. Restricting access to books would simply make finding information a little harder to find; it wouldn’t significantly alter someone’s ability to research like it would have years ago. Children are also growing up faster these days, due to that overload of easily-accessible information, and knowledge that people think a ten year old shouldn’t know might be the main topic of discussion in their grade. The information that an “innocent” child shouldn’t know is already imprinted in their brain; there is no point in trying to protecting them from things they’ve already learned and experienced (Woollaston).

High schools and libraries are banning books all over the world, but books should not be banned no matter the reason. Banning books is censorship and it allows the authority to take away freedom and information from the public. This loss of freedom allows more totalitarian governments to take over, and loss of information can aid in the process by making people easier to influence (“Burning”; “Book Burning”). It doesn’t protect people from information that is too mature or dangerous for them; it simply makes it slightly harder to find (Woollaston). It is dangerous to allow books to be banned, because it will likely turn into a power struggle between two groups of people fighting over their beliefs and whose are better or worse (“Banned Books Week”). Books should not be banned anywhere, let alone libraries and high schools, because they restrict freedom and information, and lead to ramifications that will likely negatively impact society. To stop book banning from happening, organizations like Banned Book Week spread awareness of censorship and make sure that people continue to talk about the effects it might have on society. To get involved, talk to a library or report censorship to the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (“Banned Books Week”).

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Censorship and the Banning of Books . (2021, Aug 16). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/censorship-and-the-banning-of-books-essay

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