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  • Writer's pictureMichele Thomas

Banned Books Week 2019

LeBron James has nothing on the printed word—especially books. Books have real power! They have the power to make us think, to present ideas for our consideration, to change our minds, to enlighten, to bring us to tears or make us LOL (laugh out loud).

That’s why, down through the years, certain people and groups have tried—sometimes with greater success, sometimes with less—to get public libraries, school libraries and classrooms, and even book retailers to ban certain books.

Attempts have been made to ban TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and GONE WITH THE WIND because they both used the n-word. THE COLOR PURPLE was challenged for a variety of reasons including “"troubling ideas about race relations, man's relationship to God, African history, and human sexuality." ANIMAL FARM and 1984, both by George Orwell, faced challenges because of their political views.

Sunday, the 22nd of September, marks the start of Banned Books Week, 2019, in which we celebrate the freedom to read what we want and the many successful challenges to attempts to ban books and censor what we read.

Banning books is not only cowardly, it’s un-American. In the United States, we are supposed to be guaranteed freedom of speech. Banning books stifles the “speech” of the author.

A famous quotation, which has been attributed to various individuals but most likely originated with a Brit, Evelyn Beatrice Hall, is “I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” We all have the right to disapprove of what others say, including authors in their books, but we can and should…in fact, we MUST…defend their right to say what they wish.

If you don’t agree with what an author has written in a book, speak out. Comment on the book’s Amazon listing; write a letter to the editor of your newspaper; speak your sentiments aloud to anyone who will listen. But do not try to suppress the book. Don’t try to keep it from your library, your schools (surely the school administration knows what’s really suitable for their kids) , or your local book store.

Targets of suppression have included both novels (note the list, many of which are classics, above) and nonfiction, including everything from political essays to religious screeds to books about human sexuality.

AcuteByDesign stands up for readers’ rights to choose their reading materials. We have a few “conflagrational” books on our own list. DIRTY SOUTH is a prime example. Have you read it? What did you think of it? Do you think there are censorious individuals who might like to try to suppress it? If you haven’t yet read it, we hope it was not because someone in your circle tried to keep you from it. What about our book POOR PEPE? There are those who would even oppose such a charming book as POOR PEPE because of its sympathetic depiction of refugees from Latin America who attempt to cross the border into the US and its depiction of the horrors facing them in their flight, including its reference to rape. Again we ask, if you haven’t read this book yet, is it because someone tried to keep you from it?

Banning books is not the answer. We all have the right to think for ourselves.

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