Banned Books Week calls attention to censorship
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 02:10
This week is Banned Books Week, an annual international campaign that draws attention to banned and challenged books. The effort is about the fight against censorship, and for the freedom to read.
Books are often banned with the best intentions, for the “safety” of our children. But the consequences of controlling the flow of information in any society go beyond keeping kids safe—they border on infringing on constitutional rights. To mindlessly accept rules without challenge is to give up your First Amendment rights.
Every kid grows up being taught that they should follow rules and respect authority. When those kids grow up to be teenagers, they start questioning authority figures. This stage in life is an essential part of growing up because it’s the time when teens shape their morals and worldviews.
For our young people to be educated not only in our values but also the reason for them, is an asset to our society. Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
Simply reading a book that contains ideas that are taboo in our society doesn’t mean the readers will be converted. How can they learn the value of democracy, if they know nothing of dictatorships and communism? For them to learn the importance of values, they must challenge them. And to challenge them, they must be exposed to all ideas and perceptions, which means that censorship has no place in a high school library.
It’s the solemn duty of each generation to keep civil disobedience alive and well. Real patriots exercise their First Amendment rights, and to deprive young minds of information simply because society disagrees with it is harmful to democracy and to education as a whole.
The goal of Banned Books Week is to highlight the importance of our First Amendment rights, and to draw attention to the danger of censorship and restraint of information in a free society. The key word here is “danger”—note that in Nazi Germany, people were jailed for possessing writings of Nietzsche—a dangerous, slippery slope indeed.
Support Banned Books Week. Support teaching our kids how to think, not what to think.