Friday, November 18, 2016

leadership dot #1631: censored

Yesterday I wrote about the American Library Association list of banned and challenged books and how I think it misleads people into thinking that somehow the ALA is part of the effort to ban them (which is not the case!)

In my research for that dot, I was surprised at all the books that someone has challenged:

> Where's Waldo -- for having a defined breast of one of the people on a beach

> Little Red Riding Hood -- for having a bottle of wine in the basket she was carrying to Grandma's house (not for having a wolf try to eat people!)

> Dr. Seuss' Hop on Pop -- one of the best selling children's books of all time, from 1963, that apparently encourages children to use violence against their fathers

> Dr. Seuss' If I Ran the Zoo -- for its line about slanted eyes

Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, the entire Harry Potter Series, Moby Dick, Gone with the Wind, the Diary of Anne Frank, Where the Wild Things Are -- all these are classics that have both been enjoyed by millions and requested to be removed from libraries by others.

I think that banned books are a good illustration of the different perspectives that people bring to an issue. Some see it as positive for literature to expose diverse viewpoints, provide realistic portrayals of unpleasant issues and include often marginalized characters. Others feel those exact same things are negative, and want to keep the materials out of public consumption.

We are likely never to agree on what makes a "good" book or what should be a banned one. What becomes important is that we have the option to choose. The act of censorship is always worse than whatever is being censored. We may not choose to read everything, but isn't it nice to know that we can.

-- beth triplett

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