Sunday, September 30, 2012

My personal challenge for Banned Book Week - Kathryn R. Blake

With the popular success of "Fifty Shades of Grey," I would have thought the issues of banned books were a problem of the past.  Not so.  Did you know Suzanne Collins's popular "Hunger Games" trilogy was challenged last year?  Why?  Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence.  Though I haven't read it, yet, I've loaded the book on my Kindle, and recently saw the movie.  And, unless the book is hugely different from the movie, I don't recall any occult or Satan worship taking place.  Violence?  Yeah, okay, maybe.

In 2010 Stephanie Meyer's "Twilight" was challenged.  Why?  Reasons: religious viewpoint and violence.  Well, the story does involve vampires, which are fictional creatures of the night who, according to some legends, have been abandoned by God, so perhaps some readers might take exception to the subject matter.  But why ban the book?

 According to the American Library Association (ALA), "the ALA promotes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinions, even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular, and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them."

"A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.  It is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials."

"Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice."

I fully support the need to protect the innocence of children, which is admittedly difficult in today's culture where nothing is considered "off limits" or "private."  Not even the Duchess of Cambridge's attempt to sunbathe privately.  So, perhaps certain books should only be made available to young, inquisitive minds with their parents' permission.  I'm not certain how best to handle the problem, I just know that book banning to me equates to the book burning that took place in the novel "Fahrenheit 451".  An activity I consider criminally offensive.

I write sexy, spicy and erotic books, so I am not a proponent of censorship in any form.  Even so, I wouldn't want anyone under 18 picking up and reading one of my books if their parents didn't approve.  If the person is eighteen or older, I consider them old-enough to make their own decisions as to what they like to read.
I read "To Kill a Mockingbird" (challenged in 2009 for offensive language, racism, unsuited to age group) in school.  Two other books challenged that year had me wondering what people were thinking as well "Catcher in the Rye" (for offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group) and "The Color Purple." (for offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group).  I'm not sure if any library actually banned the books by taking them off the shelves, but I hope they didn't.

So, what I personally intend to do is read at least one of the banned books in protest.  And I sincerely hope you do the same.

For more information on Banned Book Week, please visit:


  1. Banning books is a direct violation of free speech, as far as I'm concerned, but somehow, it keeps happening here and there throughout the country. When I read some of the classics of literature, I am often amazed at the political incorrectness shown therein. But you know what? That was appropriate for the time, and being exposed to it is not going to make a child become evil. It will make him/her think. It can open a discussion among classmates and with parents. This is a valuable outcome. Thank you for pointing out Banned Books Week, Kathryn.

    1. Trish, thanks so much for commenting. Yes, as an example both Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn would definitely be considered politically incorrect today, which is primarily why they are still on the list of banned books. However, Mark Twain's humor was intended to point out the inequality occurring in our society, not promote it.
      As you said, reading alone would never turn a child to evil, and these books could promote discussions with teachers, classmates and parents, but not if parents strongly object to the book's content. Then all the child sees is their parents' disgust as the adults engage in a battle of wills.
      However, where there's a will, there's a way (Ooh, write that down--bet no one's ever thought of that before). And the quickest way to get a child to do something is to forbid it. Banning a book gives it the allure of prohibition, and we all know how well that turned out.
      I'm with you 100%. Banning books is a form of censorship, which is intended to limit free speech for the protection of others. Unfortunately, such limitations give an imperfect or warped window into reality. Just like we all know that husbands and wives sleep in separate twin beds while always keeping one foot on the floor. Right. Yet, that's what television's standards and practices (the censors) insisted on back in the 50s.
      If we ban something, we are blocking our minds and thoughts to different perspectives. In short, we are going through life wearing blinders. Unfortunate, but not a crime. The crime occurs when we insist others do the same. And I, for one, refuse to wear blinders.
      I may choose to don a pair of rose colored glasses occasionally, but I would never insist you do the same. Simply put, I don't have that right.
      Thanks for posting.


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