Falling back into bad habits: censorship in schools and libraries

Falling back into bad habits: censorship in schools and libraries

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”- Oscar Wilde

The power of words is something that people overlook every day. Our society runs on words. The average person reads thousands of words a day. Even if you do not realize it, words are a major part of our way of life. This is why the banning of this information is bad. 

 To understand what the censorship of books and information can do just look at the fascist regimes that sprouted up in Europe during the early twentieth century. When these factions gained power, they began to censor and block information. This led to the people only getting one side of a story and having a single shared perspective. Unfortunately, that perspective is what eventually led to the atrocities of the Holocaust and other horrible events. 

This is why I am shocked by the recent censorship happening in school libraries. While this level of censorship is not comparable to the fascist government just mentioned, it does not make it a good practice. 

This is what is happening. The most recent banning has come with the banning of LGBTQ+ books. The apparent reason for the bans is the sex scenes in the books. 

Less recently many schools banned the critically acclaimed book “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which deals with racism. One of the stated reasons behind this ban is the use of the N-word and sexual acts in the novel. 

The “Harry Potter” series has also been banned from certain school libraries, read this account by Reverend Dan Reehill on why he banned the series from his school.

 “The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text.”

These are only a few examples of books being banned from libraries across the United States. And while the reason is said to be inappropriate scenes in the book, I think there is another reason behind the bannings. They do not want their students to think. 

Whatever your political beliefs about these topics you should be against these bans too. Reading an LGBTQ+ book will not turn your child gay, reading Harry Potter will not lead to conjuring spirits and reading a book about racism will not make your child racist. The worst it could do is broaden their perspective. What these schools are trying to do is make sure that students do not think about these topics. 

Why you might ask? Well, the obvious answer is these parents do not want to think about the books themselves. They do not want to think about the racist background this country has. How dare we teach our children that America is not perfect. How dare we challenge social customs that are considered the norm. How dare this book challenge your religious beliefs. 

Challenging beliefs and customs will not directly make someone believe something, but it will broaden their perspective. It shows our children the truth of the world and its ways. More information is never a bad thing. The more you know about something, the more you will understand and be able to form a more accurate perspective and understanding of a topic. Which is what school is all about, right?

I can cope with adults not wanting to expose their children to sex scenes at an early age, but to outright ban these books from libraries and not give parents a choice on what or not their children can read is unfair and despicable.

When people take these books away from everyone in a school community they may be taking them away from somebody who needs to read about these topics. Like an LGBTQ+ youth trying to navigate a troublesome childhood in a non-understanding family or a black child dealing with racism in a school community. 

These banned books could help someone struggling with the themes discussed in the books and should not be banned in any way. If the book provides informed perspectives and opinions and has high literary value it should not be banned from a library, especially a school library, which should be trying to promote the learning about different subjects and cultures than they are already familiar with, not censoring them.