You Can’t Read That! is a periodic post featuring banned book reviews and news roundups.
Banned Books Week had a special resonance here in Tucson, where we wear the scarlet letter of shame over one of the nation’s most infamous cases of book banning, a banning made all the worse by the racism that motivated it. Here’s a great editorial from the University of Arizona’s Daily Wildcat.
“…The mercenary process of producing and distributing obscene literature is immoral and noxious, is an offense against civilized society, is a thing to be punished, prohibited, and prevented.” The year was 1911, and Harvard President Charles W. Eliot was addressing the 33rd annual meeting of the Watch and Ward Society.
A California high school is considering banning Stephen King’s short story collection Different Seasons over a rape scene. Say what? California? High school? Sigh. More on Stephen King, a frequently banned and challenged author.
Now this is the kind of faith-based community action I like to see: church teaches class on banned books in defiance of local school district.
The headline says it all: Internet anti-censorship tools are being overwhelmed by demand.
Sometimes the impulse to ban bullying in schools and universities leads to restrictions on speech. How long before the same well-meaning people impose restrictions on the kinds of books students can read? It’s already happening. Witness the recent bowdlerization of Huckleberry Finn. And now a Canadian publisher has “disappeared” Santa’s pipe. Hmm … wouldn’t Virginia Wolfe be a lot less frightening if she didn’t curse so much?
Nearly 20 years later, author Lois Lowry publishes a sequel to the famous and frequently challenged young adult novel The Giver. Here’s my short review of The Giver, written shortly after I began reading and reviewing banned books on this blog:
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
This was a fun, engaging read, a Margaret Atwood-style near-future story of a heavily-regulated conformist dystopia and a young teenager’s dawning awareness of other possibilities, other ways to live. Although The Giver is aimed at teens, it’s a satisfying and memorable read for adults.
The Giver seems to me to be a book the kind of people who ban books would love. It’s a celebration of freedom, for goodness’ sake, and a ringing endorsement for the presence of God in human affairs. So why is it so often challenged at school board meetings across the land? Because “the community” — the dystopia in which the story takes place — practices euthanasia and infanticide. For the curious, here is a detailed summation of parental challenges to The Giver.
Children, of course, are plenty tough enough to read The Giver, and I can’t think of a child anywhere who wouldn’t benefit from reading it. Or many adults, either.
© 2012, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.