Monday, September 29, 2008

Dangerous Ideas

I've seen a couple of posts around the blogosphere already about Banned Books Week (September 27 - October 4), and since I'm a librarian - well, I'm thinking I need to address it.

I went through a phase in high school where I read a slew of banned books. Why? Because someone, somewhere was telling me they were "bad" books, that I shouldn't be allowed to read them or even have access to them, so naturally, I had to read them. Telling a teenager to not do something is the quickest way to ensure they actually will. Plus, while I wasn't (and still am not), what I would call an intellectually gifted individual, I do think I'm pretty full up in the common sense department. Just because I read about something in a book, does not mean I will run right out and do whatever it is I read about.


Why is Banned Books Week important? Because free societies cannot exist without free ideas. For all our faults, human beings have a little thing called free will. Any society that has tried to censor, rein in, or squash free will, sooner or later they end up imploding. Does this happen right away? Well looking at the current world landscape, obviously not. But sooner or later it does happen. You can repress people all you want, but you cannot rob them of their free will unless they willingly surrender it. And although sometimes I do wonder, not everybody is sheep. Just sayin'.

Why is Banned Books Week important to genre fiction readers? I happen to like books that have sex, violence and naughty words in them. And looking around at my blog readers - I know I'm not alone here. The first books that would-be, frustrated Nazis like to go after? Yeah, books with sex, violence and naughty words. Also, one of the constant back-handed remarks about the romance genre is that the books give "women unrealistic expectations." Yeah, it all goes back to "I read it in a book, so it must be true!" fallacy. Thanks a lot ass-wipe for implying that I'm too stupid to know the difference between fact and fiction. I appreciate it.

But please, won't you think of the children? I never, and I mean never, have bought into the argument that these people are going after these "dangerous" books because they're only thinking of "the children." Look, you don't want your kid to read something? Fine. But don't tell me what my kid can read, or what the kid down the street can read, or the kid 3000 miles away can read. The problem with our society today is the lack of personal responsibility. The complete disregard that every action has a consequence. I lay that blame on a lot of doorsteps, but I do not lay it at an author's feet for writing a book. Life is about choices, and the minute those choices are taken away from us, we start down a slippery slope. Kids need to learn about action and consequence, about right vs. wrong. One way to do that? Read a book. How much children's fiction is based on good vs. evil plot conflict? Yeah, exactly.

So in honor of Banned Books Week, I encourage everyone to read something naughty. Either a book that someone, somewhere tried to censor, or a book that has what could be construed as "offensive" content. That shouldn't be hard genre fiction readers. Just find something with sex, violence or naughty words and you're ready for take-off.


little alys said...

I want to pump my fist in the air and say "Go Super Librarin!" Actually, I want thinking of your name. ;)
Yes, yes, yes, and YES! Thank you for putting into words so eloquently what I've always thought as other people mocked me for my readings. Ass wipes indeed. Thanks for questioning my intelligence with the lack of theirs!
And, romance genre rules! Okay, I'm done. :D

Cathy in AK said...

Great post, Wendy. Like you, when someone tells me I can't or shouldn't I immediately want to do just that. Apparently my own teenager mentality has carried over a few decades. Despite my sometimes childish reactions, I don't need a keeper.

And *I* monitor my childrens' bookshelves. Not the people who claim they're only protecting the youngsters. That's my job, thank you very much. It came with their birth certificates. When they're old enough, they can read whatever they want.

If folks don't like what's in the library or bookstores, they shouldn't borrow or buy it. Why is that so difficult to understand? Just leave the sexy, violent, naughty bits to the rest of us who aren't so clenched.

tvaddictgurl said...

The "won't someone think of the children" argument always makes me roll my eyes. If you don't want your kid to read it, then monitor what they read. Period.

It reminds me of this news story I saw a couple years ago about an art teacher who had taken some students on a field trip to a museum and some of the parents freaked out because their chidren had seen a nipple, so they wanted her fired.

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Awesomw post Wendy! I am always up for some naughty reads :D

Lori said...


JenB said...

Amen and hallelujah!

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Every time I see the Banned Books list at a book store, I'm tempted to buy every title on it and flip my finger at the Powers That Be.

JamiSings said...

There's just one thing I think of whenever people bring up "It's bad to ban books" -

What about books so badly written that they ought to be banned just for the good of everyone?

I mean, come on, some books out there are so poorly done you wonder whom the writer slept with to get that crap published. Gender Genocide comes to mind. And Forrest Gump is one book where I can say that the movie is better - Winston Groom should've never been allowed near a typewriter or computer. The man has NO talent as a writer.

I'm not for banning books. But geez, like I said, some are such crap they deserve to be banned. But then again, I guess that means there'd be no Da Vinci Code.*

*That paticular book I've noticed something about it - everyone I know who HATES to read and won't even read the newspaper, loves that book, while everyone I know who LOVES reading and will even read toothpaste tubes just for the joy of reading hates it with a passion.

Wendy said...

Jami: One man's trash is another man's treasure - although gotta say, I think you might be on to something with your Da Vinci Code theory. Oh how I really loathed that book! I found myself rooting for Silas the Killer Albino. If that's wrong, I don't want to be right.

azteclady said...

Thank you! *raising bunch of books on the would-be-banned-list to you*

Big Sis said...

If the evil forces win the election I'm going to write to Ms. Palin and recommend that your blog be banned. You used a lot of offensive words Wendy, what if your niece or nephew had read it? Won't you THINK OF THE CHILDREN!?
(Tee hee hee).
Because heaven knows they've never heard naughty words before.

Lil Sis said...

You are preaching to the choir sister. I hear the "children" argument from parents all the time as a teacher. Ugh - they aren't even good parents - honestly, if those parents knew what their children were really like... :)

Nikki said...

I agree, too, about that preaching/choir business. Two years ago I had quite a struggle with a fairly influential parent who was shocked that her sixth grade daughter was reading all the "Alice" books. When she kept insisting that our school library remove the books, I kept repeating that I would hate for someone else to tell me what my daughter (or son) could not read. I also told her that her job as a parent stopped with her own child. We finally compromised by allowing only sixth graders to check out the "Alice" books. Sheesh. Shades of "Catcher in the Rye"!

Nicole said...

Well, did you see that the Junie B. Jones series by barbara park is now on the lists? I couldn't believe that one til I saw a few articles about it.

This all calls for an "Uff da!"

JamiSings said...

Ah, but Miss SL, think of what a wonderful world it would be if we could get rid of the authors with no talent! And then we can work on pop-tarts - I mean "pop stars" like Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears! MAWHAHAHAHA-*cough sputter choke*

But in all seriousness, I'm sure everyone has at some point read a book so poorly written you wonder whom the author slept with to get it published. Dorcus Goode: Diary Of A Salem Witch comes to mind. Not just a poorly executed story, but loaded with typos like you wouldn't believe. I felt like I was reading some really bad Americanize Harry Potter type fan fiction.

I'm joking, of course. I don't really believe in banning books. That should be left to the parent until the child is old enough to decide for themselves. Though I do wish people would learn to study BOTH sides of any arguement, political or otherwise, rather then reading only books that supports their opinions. Sometimes talking to patrons who check out tons of certain types of non-fiction I feel like I'm talking to a brain washed cult member.

Ciara said...


Joking, joking. :P I think I'll go read a dirty book right now in honor of BBW. Why celebrate for only a week? Let's read dirty books all YEAR. Yay!

great post. Very eloquent!

Rosie said...

I'm missing everyone and everything... I loved your Paul Newman piece. Excellent.

Oh and your sees-teers...they rock.