Saturday, September 25, 2010

Banned Books Week



Banned Books Week begins today and runs through October 2. There are a few reasons this annual celebration resonates with me.

First - I'm a librarian and librarians are all about open access. I abhor censorship.

Second, I'm a reader. As a reader, I want to choose what I want to read...for myself. I don't want someone else to ever have the right to tell me I can't read something I want to read.

Third, I'm a writer. Not only am I a writer, but I write erotic romance and sex is one of those things people rush to censor, usually without have read the book first.

Banning and challenging books injures our society. In fear, censors try to protect everyone from anything they deem "questionable." But the first amendment guarantees free speech. You don't have to listen to it. You don't have to read it. But if you support the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, then you have to tolerate it.

In The American President, Michael Douglas as the President states the following:

"America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free"."

And when you get right down to it, that's what Banned Books Week is all about. It's about defending your enemy's right to say whatever they will, because if they have that right, then so do you. It's hard. There are a lot of individuals out there saying stuff I don't like and I don't agree with. But in the end, it's about protecting the rights of all and not just the privileged few.

Go out this week and read a banned or challenged book. You'll be glad you did.

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