Friday, October 2, 2009

No point in banning



The Banned Books Week is coming to a close tomorrow, October 03, and I just can't help wishing for the time when we wouldn't have to celebrate this anymore. How long before we realize that there's no point in banning books? You can check out the highlights of BBW here.

Banning books, or censoring any form of material for that matter, is like forced lobotomy. I think no one has the right to impose his or her opinions on anyone. Banning or censoring books is just, excuse me, stupid.

I've only read 2 of the top 10 most frequently challenged books in the US -- Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy and the Gossip Girl books. Technically, that's 17 books (3 Pullman novels and 14 GG novels). The Dark Materials trilogy is brilliant, especially The Subtle Knife, the second book which is a personal favorite. The Gossip Girl books, on the other hand, are so shallow, inane, and populated with two-dimensional characters. Still, I don't think there could be any valid reason for banning them.

Banning books can also be ironic because it has the effect of calling more attention to the books being challenged. The most frequently challenged title is Tango Makes Three, a young adult novel about gay penguins. Misinformed people cite that the book is "anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group." How can this book be so threatening? If I see Tango Makes Three in our local bookstores, I think I'll get 10 copies and just spread them around.

Have you read any of these banned books? How do you feel about banning or challenging books, dear reader?

21 comments:

Eric said...

And Tango Makes Three is actually a story book for kids about a gay penguin couple who hatch an adopted egg. You probably will not find it in any YA section.

Three to Tango, on the other hand, is a romantic comedy starring Dylan McDermott and Matthew Perry. Coincidentally it also has a gayish storyline, but give me the penguins any day.

Peter S. said...

Eric, oops. Epic mistake! I'll correct it. Thanks!

Stepford Mum said...

Some of my favourite books are on this list! So banned = good reads, though I must agree with your opinion of Gossip Girl. My niece asked for the books last year for her birthday, and when I read the first few chapters, I just could not bring myself to buy them for her.

Amanda said...

It drives me crazy that Tango is banned. It's a picture book for goodness sake! And a nonfiction picture book at that! I read Tango to start my month-long celebration of banned books back in September.

I think the real reason people want it banned is they don't want their kids to know that homosexuality does occur in the wild, not just in the human race. It's more difficult to see something as a "sin" if animals are doing it too.

Eric said...

Coincidentally, the Tango authors Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson became gay dads this year too =)

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/02/a-baby-for-the-gay-authors-behind-the-daddy-penguins/

Peter S. said...

@Stepford Mum: I think the appeal of the GG books has something to do with taking a peek at the lives of the rich.

@Amanda: I know! I hope that people are as open-minded as you.

@Eric: That's really fascinating to know!

Charlie said...

I am totally against book banning in any way, shape, or form.

The Kite Runner is one of the finest books I've ever read, and if it was sexually explicit then I missed it.

Six of the ten cite either homosexuality or religious viewpoint, so we know where over half of the challenges are coming from. Jesus had something to say about that, and I paraphrase: Disregard the sliver in another's eye and deal with the lumber in your own.

Cynewyn said...

Banning books has one great advantage: it gives them great publicity, and almost guarantees they'll be read by more people than if they hadn't been banned...microcosmic example, but anyone remember Judy Blume's book 'Forever'? Was totally and utterly banned in my school, but you can bet your life every kid in my year had read it - mostly under the desks in Maths lessons, passing it surreptitiously to their neighbour when the teacher turned back to the board.
I'm not an advocate of censorship at all, but banning books is and always has been an integral part of our literary history - just look at Lady Chatterley's Lover; even the Bible was banned from being read by the lay population at one point! What books are banned and where tells us a lot about society and attitudes at the time - it's always been a valuable resource for historians.
Um, sorry for the Iliad-length comment!

Ceri said...

I totally agree, Peter. There's just no point in banning books these days - and especially for stupid reasons like gay content or anti-religious themes. What's controversial about that? It's the 21st century. :P

Mind you, if I hear that a book is banned, it's like a calling beacon to me. I *must* read it. hehe

Peter S. said...

@Charlie: I can feel that your very passionate about this issue.

@Cynewyn: Your comment blew me away! Thank you for sharing your detailed thoughts about this issue. You're right about how banning results in more publicity for the book.

@Ceri: LOL at the last paragraph! Me too!

Ryan G said...

And Tango Makes Three is one of my son's favorites books and we read it quite often.

Banning books is a ridiculous notion, if you don't want your child to read a book don't let them. Take responsibility for your own family and leave mine alone.

Peter S. said...

Hi, Ryan! Thank you for your very enlightening perspective about book banning! Coming from you, who is a father himself, your views can be highly regarded.

kikayfetz said...

New follower here! Wow you read all the gossip girl books? Wow. Just wow. I just can't believe a guy actually sat through all 14 books (and counting according to you hehehe), and a bibliophile at that! Looking forward to your review of the said books. LOL

Peter S. said...

Hello, Kikayfetz! Thanks for dropping by! Yes, I did. I was supposed to just read a couple, and before I knew it, I've read them all. I stopped myself from starting the new series though.

Alexia561 said...

Have to agree with you that banning books is stupid. However, there have always been stupid people in the world and unfortunately, they seem to be getting a lot of attention and get their way far too often. My response has always been to immediately buy the book in question. *L*

Even proudly wear an "I Read Banned Books" bracelet that I bought from Amazon!

Nice post!

Peter S. said...

Hi, Alexia! I need to get one of those bracelets.

artseblis said...

being included in a banned list is good publicity these days. religious and morality watch groups actually do the job of promoting a controversial book for the writer and publisher, i think.

i'm imagining Pullman exclaiming, "yes!" when his trilogy was condemned by so many goody-goody groups. =P

Peter S. said...

Hi, artseblis! I know! It has a boomerang effect.

line of flight said...

I'm stunned! Scary Stories is a challenged book? I think I'll buy it for my nephews and nieces for Christmas!

Peter S. said...

Hello, line of flight! It is! I didn't believe it myself at first.

cecille said...

Hi Peter! I'm looking for "And Tango Makes Three" too. Please let me know if you ever see it in any of our local bookstores. :)