“Knowledge is power.”- Francis Bacon
“A little learning is a dangerous thing.”- Alexander Pope
Every year in the USA, hundreds of books are reported as challenged or banned. The actual number is undoubtedly higher, as the American Library Association estimates only 20-25% of book challenges are reported. (2009)
I believe censoring and banning books and words is morally wrong. It doesn’t matter what the book is. It doesn’t matter what the word is. The removal of a word from a published book without the author’s permission is a cousin of plagiarism. Banning a book from a library compromises the intellectual integrity of the library community.
Banning books is dangerous. Without many years of intensive education, most people are simply not smart enough to figure out how to live in harmony with others. This is where “freedom of speech” and “freedom of press” is helpful. People who are exposed to more ideas are more likely to figure out which ideas are good and which ideas are bad. This comparative reasoning is the basis of all informed decision-making.
Of course, not all books are appropriate for all people. For example, few would argue against segregating erotica away from the children’s reading room of a library. Segregation is not banning. Segregation will move a book to an age-appropriate area, while banning will remove a book from an entire community.
Behold the All-Powerful “N” Word
In modern western culture, no other word is more feared and worshipped than the “N” word. Since stripped of its trailing letters, it’s become even more looming and poisonous. Civilized people don’t say the “N” word, it’s just too raw and violent. And the more it’s worshipped and feared, the more powerful it becomes. The “N” word is even more powerful than the “G-d” word. Most people are allowed to say the “G-d” word, but relatively few are allowed the “N” word. The only people still saying the all-powerful “N” word in its entirety without repercussion are “B R” and “B C.” They are rewarded for spitting the “N” word to their “N”-immune minions, who devour it like a pack of profanity-starved sailors. But what about those of “M R”? Can you say the “N” word if you are 50% “B,” but not if you are 25% “B”? What if you are a “N-B” person raised in an otherwise “A-B” family? Is your family allowed to say the “N” word while you are not?
For more information, visit the ALA.
What is your opinion of censoring or banning words and books? Is it appropriate or necessary in specific instances?