The Zealots Book Club

Cover of "To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Ann...
Cover via Amazon

Funny how society (and in particular academics), espouse the inherent value of reading  as a form of education, then proceed to direct the readers down one particular literary avenue or another. It may well be an obvious requirement for channeled study of a specific subject however, over zealous censorship can actually produce opposites to the original aims.

Some may have seen the media discussion about parents forcing books to be withdrawn from schools in the USA…

BBC News: In the US more and more parents are pressing schools to withdraw books with bad language or sexual content. But should children’s books be restricted in this way? (Read more)

With the overtly puritanical nature of some parts of the USA, there is a danger some of the decisions are actually being made by religious zealots. It is dangerous because, tolerance and understanding are fundamental human traits required by a diverse nation, especially one as powerful as the USA. With that factor in mind, is this level and type of control really sensible? Won’t too much censorship actually lead to an increase in secular and insular viewpoints in future society?

I have to say; there appears to be a propensity for what can only be described as gratuitous violence and overt sexuality with some wordsmiths. I have to wonder sometimes, is this a form of pandering to the low moral standards of the readership or, an actual reflection of the mindscape of some authors? Because of this factor alone, I can fully understand a parental desire to protect their children. 

As pointed out in the BBC article; one of the most famous literary works to enjoy banned status notoriety in the USA is the 1960’s Harper Lee classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Given the race relations history of America, I can partly understand Black Americans finding the use of the word ‘nigger’ offensive. What I can’t understand is how anyone can actually believe, banning a book will actually promote better race relations. Isn’t that kind of mentality similar to that adopted by people who deny the holocaust?

It is far too simple to adopt an osterich ‘ head in the sand’ methodology when something is difficult to explain and/or justify, if indeed it should be justified. Is it right to deny our children their history?  Shouldn’t we be helping our children to understand the context of the subject matter and its place in social evolution? Helping them to gain a balanced view that allows them to arrive at informed opinion in the future.

In answer to the BBC question ‘should children’s books be restricted in this way’ I would probably answer maybe, but only when it is done in a reserved and educated manner.

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