Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Answer is NOT Censorship

I like that sentence:  the Answer is NOT Censorship!

I have to backtrack a bit and then meander a while, before  you will understand what I'm talking about.
Yesterday, Sheila from Book Journey  wrote a post called "When Paper Hits the Road (a moment of heartbreak).  You need to read it...and then we'll talk about what censorship means to you and me.

Meandering to the post I wrote a few days ago---I wrote a quote from the book 'The Monuments Men' which stated:
(they are talking about art, which I believe includes books)

It is, and always has been, the visible evidence of the activity of free minds
(page 21)

The evidence of the activity of free minds.

If you cannot let people express themselves thru art (music, painting, literature, dance, etc),  you are lost.  Lost, as a smart, thinking culture.
Which in my mind trickles down to a smart, thinking generation.  I would never ever not let my grandchildren read any book.  But I'm also secure in the fact that their parents feel the same way. (because I am not the parent, just the grandparent and I don't get to choose.  I might let my opinion be known but in the end, that isn't up to me, so I am blessed with children and children in-law, who don't believe in censorship either)

I used to have a 'book blog'  where I wrote only of books and related subjects. It got to be too hard to have more than one blog, so I combined the two, and this is what you are reading now-- but in September 2008, I wrote 2 blog posts on my book blog  stating (very passionately)   how I feel about censorship. 
 I thought I'd share them here (in answer to Sheila's question--she said she'd love to know our thoughts)
Included in these 2 posts are  quotes and answers made by  my original Friday Friends, because I had asked them what they thought about censorship---and so it was natural to include their answers.
There are a couple of times in the posts, where, if you didn't follow my FF Forum (this was 2008, and about the only people who  did  follow me were my friends) it might seem confusing.
But I decided to share anyway because I was really passionate about it.

Let me just state AGAIN that I don't believe in censorship of any kind, but I do believe in the rights of parents knowing age appropriateness of their child--for things they read, watch and listen to.

Book Banning, an opinion

I find myself in this interesting blogger world... and kind of in between. I've always been kind of an "in between" person. Friends with everyone. Respecting everyone's viewpoints, enjoying their likes, applauding their causes.
But then sometimes that leaves me feeling, "unknown" to some of even my closest friends.

Why am I writing this? Because I just sent an e-mail to my "Friday Friends Forum" (that's what the "FF" stands for in my blog name ) about book Banning Week.
I STATED AN OPINION. I actually got off the fence!! And then I get nervous. What if not all of my friends agree with me? What'll I do? I'm a dork.
In my own little way, I'm a political wife. My husband is on the city-council of our little town. I've attended functions, shook hands with our governor, ate dinner with our U.S. Senator, organized a candidates night... but I don't like to be "too" political. I just want to appreciate you for who you are!! And I want you to appreciate me for who I am.

Let me back track a bit here.... I find myself, in this blogger world, reading and following blogs from stay-at-home, homeschool mom's all the way to very "intellectual, in-depth, book reviewers. Not to say that we MOMS aren't intellectual, I'm just trying to find a way to show/state the broadness of the blogs I follow.
I go back and forth, back and forth, jumping around reading everyone's opinions and following their stories. And I like them all.

And right now, before I post about my favorite Children's Picture Book, I'm going to post my little rant on Banned Books...hoping it gets lost in the middle.

**I'm not as dumb as I made myself out to be in the 2nd paragraph. I do have opinions, and I think that MOST people can pretty much tell my stance on things by the life I lead. I'm really not afraid to stand up for what I believe. I just don't like to "force" my opinions and beliefs on people. That's it...force. I am not a forceful person. As in: forcing my opinions down your throat. (but you better darn well agree with me here...)

Here is my rant to the FF Forum:
(and a couple of comments from Friday Friends at the bottom. It's a forum, not a blog, so they just e-mail me back. LOL )

My Platform.
Yes, I do have one.
The only thing I am not a fence-walker on.
The only thing I cannot "see the other side" on.
The only thing I feel so strongly about, that I am willing to go out on a limb and walk naked down the street for!! (okay, not naked, but it kind of seems like I am naked when I have to take a stance in front of everyone, because that is not my usual "m.o."
I like to say "oh really? Imagine that.", In lieu of being committal... but...I can't do it on this )
SO HERE IS MY STANCE--naked or not!

I'm against it.

oh wow! I feel
I've stepped off the edge.

oh, what's that you say? You already KNEW I didn't believe in book banning?

Well, anyway.... here is a bit of a blog from author Lois Lowry, (Number the Stars, The Giver, etc)

Banned Books Week
Celebrating the Freedom to Read
September 27–October 4, 2008
Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. This year, 2008, marks BBW's 27th anniversary (September 27 through October 4).
BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.

If you want to read all of Lois's Blog, go to...

and yes, she does mention Sarah Palin. Once again, I am not stating my political choices, but I cannot agree with book banning. FOR ANY REASON. I can, however, understand and endorse "parental rules and discretion" when it comes to what our children read. It's a parent's obligation to teach their children well (or was that a song by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young? that was "teach. your parents well" ) (I'm REALLY sorry I get off on tangents like that)

And on the flip side, I can, understand children disobeying (OMG....did I just say that?) those same rules and sneak reading books in the night (me, Mario Puzo and the Godfather, 1972) (me, William Peter Blatty and The Exorcist, 1973).

My parents had no idea what I was reading. They thought I was still on "Betsy and Tacy" books---which are very good by the way--- my point? I have none, EXCEPT be aware of books that have been banned and GO READ THEM!!!! (and call all the book banner wanna be's HITLER)
See? I really do have an opinion on something. (other than the no ketchup with hot dogs, which is also very important)

I just might make myself a sandwich board and walk up and down main street!!!

comments from
Shelly in Nevada:
I double-dog dare you to!

and Carolyn in Idaho:
I am also against book banning, but I won't walk naked with you----even wearing a sandwich can still see in the sides!

and from September 9, 2008

Book Banning, II

I guess I should have clarified yesterday....I don't agree with book banning, but age appropriateness is okay. So is parental "censorship". (even tho I hate that word...but I preface it with "parental" ) I just don't want you telling me what "I" can read. And I won't be telling you what "you" should read.
It gets a bit complicated I guess.
Here are three comments/opinions from Friday Friends (of the originals), one is my sister in law, Meghan. She is the mother of two elementary school children. And Traci, my friend who works in a school district Media Center. And my friend Kevin, who worked beside me as the computer teacher in the computer lab when I was the librarian at the Grammar School.

from Meghan:
Funny you mention book banning... I have been kinda worried about the books my kids are reading! Not worried...but ... well, Devin is into the Junie B Jones books..... these are IMMENSELY popular with the kids and ALL the 1st grade TEACHERS read them to the kids and they even go see the LIVE show at the Chabot theater... but we were reading it last night and I kept having to say 'you know that's not ok to do or say' when Junie would call someone stupid or be rude to her teacher... and correcting Junie's grammar as it is terrible... so I AM CENSORING!! I don't know, I guess Ramona books were kinda like that as she was a sassy spitfire... but this seems like it could be a bad influence in a kid susceptible to bad behavior, ya know? And Nate, who is a struggling reader.... his teacher does not believe in giving homework just for the sake of doing another worksheet at home (LOVE her) so asks that the kids read for 30-40 minutes a night...we bought a ton of books to help him get interested... then were recommended Diary of A Wimpy Kid.... which he loves!!! but there are cartoons depicting things that aren't 'appropriate'...calling people morons and such. We sometimes swear in front of our kids, and say silly things but we KNOW our kids .... there is no way they would say anything like that in school... but most 6 or 8 year olds (who are not as exceptional as my kids, lol) would tend to repeat this stuff! what do you think?
I too used to sneak books from my moms closet and read what I was forbidden to... Wifey by Judy Blume (I HAD read all her others! why not this??) and Erica Jung come to mind!

from Traci: I agree with the banning, but I do have question for you?
How do you feel about books that give misinformation (outdated or just morally wrong)to young people. Do you still put the book on the shelf or pull it???

from Kevin:
My first banned book was Tom Jones by Henry Fielding. It was also a banned movie, but the book was one of several the Montrose librarian caught me with in the stacks. I can also remember a big push to ban "Catcher in the Rye" and burning of writing was very popular.
When I was a senior, at the second new high school I attended, I was in the journalism class. I wrote a column about freedom, of expression, and got the whole school newspaper burned.
Lois Lowry is one of the many dynamic writers Debbie introduced me to, when she was the Grammar School librarian in the last century. Just the other night, I watched a movie with the same theme: "Freedom Writers".

So... (me again) what is the answer?
I cant' even remember why Catcher in the Rye was banned. Times have changed, haven't they?

"morals" are subjective, so what I might find offensive, you might not, and so forth. And that's what I don't like about any person or group of people deciding what "I" can read. I want to decide for myself what I can read. And hopefully the "age appropriateness" can kind of weed out the unlawful and "wrong" books for the kids. I don't have a "pat" answer for that question. I don't want any political, religious, or social group telling me what is right or wrong to read, or what is right or wrong for my children or grandchildren read. I don't want educators or community leaders telling me so either.
And, I, in turn will not censor their books. Or their children's books.
It's really a lot more complicated than just a blanket statement. But I would still say I am against the banning of books...any books.

"outdated" ....but it's so much fun to find old books that say things like "Mommy stays home and cleans the house while Daddy goes to work" LOL...too funny. Outdated in non-fiction, of course, but in fiction? How can you be outdated?

And Holy Cow, I've never read the Junie B. Jones books (now you know I'll have to), but I was never a huge fan of serial books until a few years ago and now I'm into mysteries with returning characters.
That too is a complicated situation.
Why is it that some very popular authors have to use means like that? I don't like that, but I wouldn't "ban" it. It's hard sometimes to not cross the line from spunky to obnoxious when writing about a character, I guess.
As a parent I think the way you live your life and let your views be known, your children will pick up on. It's really hard when all the teachers love the books and use them. And in conversation if you voiced your concerns about them, you could be labeled as a CENSURER!! OMG!! Who knew Meghan was a censor. LOL

BUT ... you are still reading them to your kids and having "conversations" over them and about them. YAY!! You didn't ban them or go picket against them. You have a concern as a parent.

I did appreciate those concerns...having to address or look at things from a different view point.... they are things to think about.

List of a few: (from the Forbidden Library dot com)

The Call of the Wild. Jack London. Ace; Bantam; Grosset; Macmillan; NAL; Penguin; Pocket Bks.; Raintree; Tempo. Banned in Italy (1929), Yugoslavia (1929), and burned in Nazi bonfires (1932). Who knew Nazis didn't like sled dogs?

Catcher in the Rye. J.D. Salinger. Published in 1951, this immediate best seller almost simultaneously became a popular target of censorship. A 1991-92 study by the People for the American Way found that the novel was among those most likely to be censored based on the fact that it is "anti-Christian." Challenged by Concerned Citizens of Florida who wanted the book removed from a high school library (1991) in Leesburg, Florida due to "profanity, reference to suicide, vulgarity, disrespect, and anti-Christian sentiments." They were unsucessful: a review committee voted unanimously to retain the book.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Roald Dahl. Bantam; Knopf; Penguin. Removed from a locked reference collection at the Boulder, Colo. Public Library (1988), where it had been placed because the librarian thought the book espoused a poor philosophy of life.

A Doll's House. Henrik Ibsen. Penguin. Four members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee (1983)--presumably the same who objected to The Diary of Anne Frank --called for the rejection of this work because it propagates feminist views.

The Egypt Game. Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Dell; Macmillan. This award-winning novel was challenged in the Richardson, Tex. schools (1995) because it shows children in dangerous situations, condones trespassing and lying to parents and ostensibly teaches about the occult. The school board declined to ban this book, but did decide that parents should be notified when it is used in class.

The Happy Prince and Other Stories. Oscar Wilde. Penguin. Challenged at the Springfield, Oreg. Public Library (1988) because the stories were "distressing and morbid."

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Dee Brown. Holt. Removed in Wild Rose, Wis. (1974) by a district administrator for being "slanted." The administrator also said "if there's a possibility that something might be controversial, then why not eliminate it."

The Lorax. Dr. Seuss. Random. Challenged in the Laytonville, Calif. Unified School District (1989) because it "criminalizes the foresting industry." Isn't that the de-foresting industry?

My Friend Flicka. Mary O'Hara. Harper; Lippincott. Removed from fifth and sixth grade optional reading lists in Clay County, Fla. schools (1990) because the book uses the word "bitch" to refer to a female dog, as well as the word "damn."

Where's Waldo? Martin Handford. Little. Challenged at the Public Libraries of Saginaw, Mich. (1989), Removed from the Springs Public School library in East Hampton, N.Y. (1993) because there is a tiny drawing of a woman lying on the beach wearing a bikini bottom but no top. Yes, but did they find Waldo?

A Wrinkle In Time. Madeleine L'Engle. Dell. Challenged at the Polk City, Fla. Elementary School (1985) by a parent who believed that the story promotes witchcraft, crystal balls, and demons. Challenged in the Anniston Ala. schools (1990). The complainant objected to the book's listing the name of Jesus Christ together with the names of great artists, philosophers, scientists, and religious leaders when referring to those who defend earth against evil. Got it. Let's cross Jesus off that list, shall we?

I could go on, but I won't. I will say "AARGHGH!" before I leave tho. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Madeleine L'Engle, who was the writer in residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC, until she died last year.

Okay, that's it. That's my blog for today. :~)

PS I think my niece and nephew are exceptional too!!


Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Fantastic... I am not glad (but I am glad) that I got you fired up. I am fired up. Even better, I took the book into work today to discuss it with my boss.One of my bosses read the last chapter of the book which he said he had always loved... he teared up.

I work at a church. My boss... is a Pastor.

Enough said :) Censorship is wrong. Banning is wrong. Thanks for jumping on the band wagon with me :)

bermudaonion said...

People who want to ban books are afraid of ideas and want everyone in the world to think like them. They're the kind of people who want little robots for children. My parents didn't keep up with what I read and we gave our son the same freedom. When he was passionate about a book, he would talk about it and push it on me. I ready every single book he recommended to me but I can't see I loved them all. I can say I loved the fact that he read a wide variety of books that helped him explore issues and form opinions of his own.

Friday Friend Recipe #202 -- Greek Pasta Salad

My Friday Friend Cookbook Countdown #202 (#willreallyfinishthissomeday) ...