Mankind's Weapon of Truth

September 11, 2012
A novel, by definition, is a work of art written by an author for the enjoyment of the people or to supply them with informative material. This being said, a writer of a published work typically does not try to corrupt the minds of their readers and, publishers themselves, believe enough in the story to release it into the public eye. Therefore, the fact there are “banned” books in this country is insulting and unbelievable. However, not only is it insulting to those who have worked to place the book on the market, but it is also insulting for the readers. By banning books it undermines the intelligence of readers by insinuating that their minds are easily manipulated and are incapable of formulating their own opinion. As such, banning a book does not make it go away- quite the opposite actually. In accordance with human nature, the more you forbid others from something that is deemed “inappropriate” or “corrupting,” the more people tend to stray against this and harbor an insatiable urge to act in defiance.

Justifiably, authors are typically the first people to feel wronged once their work is banned. All books have deeper meaning to them designated to teach their readers a moral lesson, whether it be subconscious or not. Books, contrary to popular opinion, are extremely difficult to write and, keeping this in mind, it must feel like a slap in the face to writers after all their effort. Most typically, parents are those most active in book banning, believing they are “protecting” their children by forbidding them from reading about physical and emotional issues they believe are too complex for their children to realize. On the other hand, during these times, children are much more educated in physical and emotional issues at a much younger age. And authors, understanding this evolution in growth, are trying to inform readers about turbulent emotions that come along with these issues and how to solve their problems accordingly before they are faced with them. Judy Blume, a veteran author who specializes in books pertaining to young adults, had five of her books challenged during the 1990s. One of these titles included Forever, a novel that portrays the story of a high school senior named Katherine who loses her virginity and Artie, a teenager confused about his sexuality and eventually attempts suicide because of it. This novel is perfect for parents to learn the differences in society and to understand some of the problems teenagers face today, the main goal of authors. From a teenage perspective, it is utterly mind boggling that works of literature are forbidden, yet television shows and violent video games are generously offered in bountiful proportions to children, whether it is through public influence or family.

Likewise, readers tend to find offense once a published work is banned from being read. Along with the implication that a reader is too immature to read a realistic work, it also indicates that the reader’s mind is too underdeveloped to form an individual opinion. These implications are not only demeaning; they also go against everything children are taught in school. Once you begin learning, educators often stress the point of broadening your outlook by informing yourself with enough information as possible. Be that as it may, the most common method of receiving information is by reading all types of works, and by banning works of literature it quells all advancements. The variances of books today allow people to become well versed in different fields and to gain worldly knowledge in a controlled setting. Sadly, parents find new material excessively inappropriate to be taught in school. One example of this, mentioned in the article “Should This Book be Banned?” by Michael Winerip, is the instance where the parents of a fourteen year old student protested against their child being shown “photos of ancient sculptures depicting male frontal nudity in the textbook Culture and Values: A Survey of the Humanities.” In response, officials pulled the volume from the curriculum and received much outrage. As one fifteen year old student phrased, “It would be ridiculous of us to learn about Greek art without ever looking at some of its most famous and significant statues.” This well formulated response shows understanding of our basic human rights. These rights include freedom of expression and the ability to share material without repercussion. Despite these privileges, book banning is still allowed around the country and is usually called into effect once a book becomes popular and, therefore, controversial. This, in itself, is an unconstitutional act under the eyes of the government and a violation of our rights.

Along with this point is the fact that books do not disappear after it is banned. Instead, said works become more desirable to be read once the population realizes that the knowledge within is forbidden. It is only natural curiosity and many people only desire to understand an opposing stand in nonfiction work. In fiction, people are interested in witnessing character development or the changes in society once placed in a fictitious world. Although, this is only a minor reason why people are drawn to forbidden reads. One of the most popular reasons is that readers tend to find a connection with characters and that makes them continue reading. Seemingly without regard to the readers’ emotional investment, banning books brings along promise of rebellion from all. In addition, children are taught by early adolescence to ignore things they either disagree with or find unsettling, a lesson people should adapt to in place of forbidding the readings of literature.

In summation, book banning is, in fact, ridiculous and insensible in every sense. Not only does it directly insult the author’s intent, but it completely disregards the time and effort put into publication. This not only enrages the writer and publisher, but it wholly undermines the reader’s intelligence and capability to form a well thought out opinion. Education says a lot about people, ergo, saying a lot about where they came from. This country was built on fundamental values of equality, whether it be in education or the workforce. As a result, to have a small group of people dictate the works deemed appropriate is one step closer to the times where book burning is acceptable. Books do not magically disappear once banned from schools or libraries, they just become a bit harder to locate. The only thing book banning encourages is not the protection of our minds but the ignorance of our people and society. After all, as Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”





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