Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Nonsensical Nature of Banned Books

This isn't the first time I've posted about the concept of banned books, and I'm sure it won't be the last. In an industry where writers are constantly pushing boundaries, sparking controversy, and being, well, true to life, there are always some people who aren't going to like it.

And last week, in the town of Republic, Missouri, the school board approved the banning of Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five from its high school library.

My reaction to this choice? In a word: shocking.

I've read Twenty Boy Summer and while it certainly tackles the hormonal challenges of teens in a candid way, it most certainly is not a book deserving of censorship. There are five books I can think of off the top of my head that would be more understandably banned. (No, I'm not going to list them here.) And Slaughterhouse-Five, which I'm chagrined to say I have not read despite my BA in English, is a classic novel taught in most high schools or colleges (but clearly not mine!). It's a controversial and at times gruesome book from what I know, but again, not so much so that this ruling rings reasonable.

I'm not one for banning books in the first place, but if you're going to do it, at least do it sensibly.

It seems I'm not the only one with an opinion on this matter though, according to GalleyCat. Ockler herself whipped up a blog post in response last week, admitting to her book's risque material but chastising the choice to ban it from the library.

This passage sums up her take nicely, though the entire post is definitely worth a read:

Look, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times more. I get that my book isn’t appropriate for all teens, and that some parents are opposed to the content. That’s fine. Read it and decide for your own family. I wish more parents would do that — get involved in their kids’ reading and discuss the issues the books portray. But don’t make that decision for everyone else’s family by limiting a book’s availability and burying the issue under guise of a “curriculum discussion.”

But you all know my views on banning books — any books. What I really want to say today is this (close your eyes, Dr. Scroggins, as you’ll likely find this content alarming):

Not every teen who has sex or experiments with drinking feels remorseful about it. Not every teen who has sex gets pregnant, gets someone pregnant, or contracts an STD. Not every teen who has sex does so while in a serious relationship. Not every teen who has sex outside of a relationship feels guilty, shameful, or regretful later on. And you can ban my books from every damn district in the country — I’m still not going to write to send messages or make teens feel guilty because they’ve made choices that some people want to pretend don’t exist.

That’s my choice. And I’ll never be ashamed of my choice to write about real issues.

See the original post HERE

When I read this, I gave a little cheer in my chair.

Go, Sarah.

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