When I was in high school, I had a math teacher who had a pet phrase: “Your freedom stops where my chin begins.” I always thought it was a good measure of personal rights. I am allowed to do as I choose as long as what I choose affects only me. In all other cases, my conduct must be amended to consider the rights and feelings of others.
My teacher’s saying comes to mind as I realize we’ll soon be celebrating the 30 anniversary of Banned Books Week – reflecting on books that at one time or another offended the sensibilities of a few. During this period, celebrities will read passages from the offending classics. In the past they included notables like Brave New World, To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye and Romeo and Juliet.
When it comes to literature for young people, the list of banned books seems endless. The Harry Potter series and The Hunger Games are two recent examples of novels that have raised cries of alarm. When I hear such voices, I wonder if anyone ever questions why these works are so popular. Is it simply the lure of evil? Or do these stories speak to issues paramount to young minds? I’m inclined to believe it is the latter, and that these creations have a therapeutic value, allowing children to face their fears.
Before I banned a book, I’d want to know what I was walling in or walling out and if, as my math teacher suggested, I had the right
(Courtesy of www.doverlibrary.org)