Thursday, July 19, 2012

Burn Down The Library

God forbid that any book should be banned. The practice is as indefensible as infanticide.

Rebecca West.
Hello Bruce
"Watchman, tell us of the night."
Everything I write is a plea for redemption.
I hope they ban my books.
You don't have to write "The Tropic of Capricorn" or "Lady Chatterley's Lover" to have your book banned. No matter what you write you will offend someone. And if that someone gets together with other someones who then have your book ripped from library shelves in a fit of self righteous rage you will know you have written an important book.

An idiot in the South can burn a copy of the Koran but, other than seriously insulting a lot of people, it will have no effect whatever on centuries of profound Islamic religious thought.

Elsewhere some concerned do-gooders are working to have removed from the schools any literature which discusses the Theory of Evolution for fear that some impressionable youth might get the idea that God didn't create Adam and Eve. (He didn't, by the way. It's a myth.)

The pendulum of learning tends to swing too far in both directions. I have, and you have too, met youngsters that step into young adulthood with some preconceived notion about the realities of life, preconceived because taught by some system or authority figure who was, in turn, unable to factor into his or her thinking the uncertainties and vagaries of reality. That's why West likens it to infanticide. Why raise a child with simple formulas for living while hiding the more complicated issues if they happen to occur? Or why convince a child of the truth or untruth of things unproven simply because of beliefs? Why not just keep the kid locked up, as some perverted parents have done.

Then when the young person finally gets to confront the world out there as it really is, with opposing and conflicting ideas and practices, a period of rejection clicks in and that person may go too far in the other direction and adopt some ism or ology just as confining as the one they left behind. How long the straightening out process takes depends upon the strength of character of the person involved and how extreme the teaching has been. The search for truth has been going on for centuries and it's still going on but it can't be aided by building a brick wall of ignorance in front of books someone doesn't like.

In spite of the heroics they claim for themselves book banners are cowards. They're also hypocrites. How would anyone know which books to ban if they haven't read them? I recall coming across a demonstration in New York against a movie theatre that was showing "The Last Temptation of Christ." I asked one of the demonstrators if she had ever read the Kazantzakis novel. She said she wouldn't go near it. When I told her the true story of a Jewish girl I knew who converted to Christianity after reading the book, she didn't want to hear it.

I love to read. I like to read history and philosophy among other things. I frequently come across authors who express an opinion or a point of view I disagree with or find troublesome to think about. But even if they don't change my mind, I will give them my earnest consideration. That's the pleasure of it.

For the edification of the book banners there's an old saying: "Get a life." And leave the books where they are.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
Never give up.


I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I love to read too. I always learn and my world expands through books. Good thoughts in your entry.

Arlene (AJ) said...

I read all the time, the library says they have a special area that is just mine if I want to spend the night anytime reading. Through reading you can learn so much, can't imagine anyone not allowed to read....that's sad.

Reading is my way of getting through the's nice to have some time to prop your feet up and read, for me it gives me peace of mind, plus great enjoyment.

Beth said...

I'm sure you know how I feel about this.

If you've never seen it, I recommend going to the site Letters of Note and finding the letter Kurt Vonnegut wrote to the principal of a school that had banned Slaughterhouse: Five. It is remarkable.