What do the Hunger Games, Harry Potter, And Tango Makes Three, Brave New World, To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, Of Mice and Men, and Lord of the Rings all have in common? According to the American Library Association, they have all been challenged and banned since the year 2001. Many would wonder what makes a book ban-able? There are many reasons a book is challenged and subsequently banned in a school or library, but the major idea is that someone believes that they need to censor the book and keep others from being able to read it. Interestingly, many books that fight against the idea of censorship become censored; instances of this occur when people challenge Fahrenheit 451, The Book Thief, The Giver, 1984, and Brave New World.
5. The first Amendment to the American Constitution as stated by Thomas Jefferson is, “Information is the currency of democracy.” which is one important reason college students should take notice of censorship, especially criminal justice and paralegal program students.
4. Banned books contain powerful ideas; “The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.” according to Oscar Wilde. And as any student who has taken a humanities course can tell you; this is one of the main ideas of what makes us human.
3. Banned books are fun to read as suggested by John Marshall Harlan a Supreme Court Justice in 1971 when he said, “[O]ne man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric.” This suggests that although one person may find Harry Potter to be promoting witchcraft or Fifty Shades of Grey to be promoting pornography, another might find these things to be great works of symbolic literature.
2. As a parent or future parent, one should be knowledgeable about why the book is controversial and decide for him or herself if the child is ready for it. As stated by Claire Booth Luse, “Censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but unlike charity, it should end there.” Each parent has the right to determine when his or her child is ready for a piece of literature, but that right does not extend to someone else’s children.
1. Banning a book means that someone else wants to take the choice of reading it away from others. This is best articulated by Voltaire who said, “Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.” Once someone promotes the censorship of a book for the public, he or she is telling everyone else that they are not responsible enough to make the decision for him or herself. Paralegal students would tell you that, that is against number five on this list.
Enjoy Banned Books Week by reading your favorite banned book. I know that I will.