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"Challenging Books" : and the fight for Freedom of Expression

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Keganator, Sep 22, 2003.

  1. Keganator

    Keganator White as Snow Moderator

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    Source

    Before I get into my post, I suggest you read the whole page; it has some very good conversation about book censorship. Here, specifically, are some definitions, from that page:
    First of all, I hope that your upbringing, through high school or otherwise, has led you to read at least some of these books. I, myself, through school or otherwise, have read the Harry Potter series, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings", "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", and "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry". I'm not surprised the last three are on there. It is true; they are all controversial books. However, I am a better person for reading them, too, and it sickens me that people would try to cover that stuff up.

    "I know why the caged bird sings" depicts the main character, a young girl of color, being raped as a child and then later 'proves herself a woman' and gets herself pregnant. Yowsa. How about a bit of a controversy there...I can see mothers freaking out about that one. Who wants their daughter getting ideas of *gasp* sex outside of marriage, let alone finding a random stranger to get her pregnant! Is that the focus of the story though? No. The story is that of a young girl growing up, in less than serene conditions. She gets raped at a young age, and has to deal with it. She can't get dental work, because of her color. She has to move all around because of her family. The story doesn't really go anywhere...but you read this story for the journey, not the destination. I'm glad I read it, and I'm glad my school had us read it. The little bit of uncomfort that you get from this story will help make you realize that there is, was, and always shall be lives that when growing up were hell...and not nearly as nice as what you had.

    Huckleberry Finn has to have be one of the best novels ever written. For those of you who haven't read it yet, for shame. It sure doesn't depict a very realistic situation; Huckleberry Finn and a slave of the family he was staying at, escape from that familly by floating down the Mississippi. What is important about the story is it shows Jim, the slave, being treated like a slave, being called a '******'. Aside from a bit of crude language, this book is harmless. It's an entertaining read, for sure, but it is most definitely not something that kids shouldn't read. However, it does show things in a historical context, and lets kids know what things were (kinda) like at one point. I'm sure there's more to it than that...I just didn't get much more out of it than that.

    Then there's "Roll of Thunder, hear my Cry". At the time of reading it, I really didn't care too much for it. However, reflecting back, it was a very good thing to read. It talked about segregation, and the horrors that were brought with it. The main character was all excited when they brought in the 'new' textbooks for everyone...only to find that they had been stamped with "surplus - to be disposed of" (or something like that...does anyone have what it really said?). That passage, that page alone made the book worth reading for every student. It showed the conditions people had to live with. It showed that 'separate but equal' was not legitemate...because that's impossible. It should make you think, even today, that's happening. However, the separation (at least in schools) isn't by race, but by location or school district. I lived in-between two city school districts, and i was very thankful to be in the one i was in. That district had a great technology budget and program, and the other didn't. Hell...even within the same school district...they spent something like 30 million on a new high school for the kids on the Issaquah Plateau, while they spent only around 10 million refurbishing our school. Heh...equality...right.

    And who hasn't read harry potter? ;) Come now, harry potter? It's a kids book. It isn't anything more. Those 'magic is of the devil' types have their own problems that they need to deal with, first.

    So, after seeing this list, I'm all the more curious as to why the other books were banned. If anyone has read them, I'm sure we'd all love to hear about them.

    I read a bit further into some links, and another author, Judy Blume, was mentioned at being censored. As a kid, I loved her books. I even read one of the ones that people wanted censored...and there wasn't anything bad in that book, nothing worse than what goes on in real life.

    Why is it that parents take it upon themselves to try to hide the world around them from their kids? In the US, we have, in writing, guaranteed freedoms. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press. No one has the right to take away a child's ability to see the world around them. What these parents are doing is nothing more than denying people a chance to see another bit of the universe. As the guys from "Men In Black" said, "A person is smart...people are dumb, panicky animals." Individuals should always have the right to make their own decisions on a piece of literature, on a piece of art, on a meaning of a poem. Always. A good parent should, instead of hiding or defacing a text, explain the meanings of things and put it into context for the child. That's the job of the parent: explaining, not concealing. Fucking grow up and be a parent, Mothers for Censorship of Libraries.

    A parent censoring their children's stories is bad enough, but the real crime comes when those parents want to inflict it upon the whole community. Your mother does not have the right to prevent me from reading a book, or have the right to edit a book to your desires. Ever. I don't care what you think of a book. I want to make my own decision on it. It's bad enough when they try to censor something like The Jungle or Nineteen Eighty Four. When they go after children's books, like "Where the Wild Things Are", which depicts in one scene an anatomically correct naked child, that's just too much.

    I seriously urge each and every one of you, if you see censorship in your libraries or in your classroom to think about what's going on, and think about their motives. Then make sure to address it, publicly. If you don't say anything, then nothing will change, and the people censoring your freedoms will get away with it, and that is unacceptable.
     
  2. Cap'n Beeb

    Cap'n Beeb Banned

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    When the world is hidden from someone, especially a young and developing mind, they will be more readily accepting of whatever world you make for them. Also, the appeal of censorship to parents is thus:

    "Hey! Little Jimmy wont know of anything I dont approve of! Now I can go pop my sweet secretary in the ass while my wife has an orgy with my co-workers! Viva the american dream!"

    Censorship merely takes responsibilty away and sweeps it under the rug, effectively solving the "problem" of parenting. And people blame the media for the violence in the youth... it's the god damn parents not telling the kids what's real, and what isnt.
     
  3. fist_mlrs

    fist_mlrs that other guy

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    great post, though i don't know what to add.

    that list gave me a few ideas for my next readings btw...
     
  4. spm1138

    spm1138 Irony Is

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    I've never really understood those in favour of this kind of censorship.

    I think they'd like the world to be a certain way (an imaginary fortnight sometime in 1952) and they believe that if they pretend hard enough and inflict the pretence on enough other people then the world will get a little closer to being that way.

    It's a mental illness, really.

    Almost as bad as religion :D
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2003
  5. JaFO

    JaFO bugs are features too ...

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    It really makes me wonder how you'd treat a book like 'Turkish Delight'. AFAIK it is (or at least used to be) on 'the' list of books you had to choose to read for your list at school (MAVO ... age 16 ... now I really wonder how many kids would either have seen that movie or read that book ... ).

    Link : http://www.digitallyobsessed.com/showreview.php3?ID=1196
    (the movie is kind of proof that Dutch movies are porn-movies for literary types ... )

    I won't say there isn't a list of 'forbidden books' ("Mein Kampf" is only available for 'research purposes' I think. ), but at least there's not enough people that are that obsessed with 'good' books that they can cause problems.

    Still I consider it really strange that a country which prides itself on having 'freedom of speech' in its constitution has so many idiots that are afraid of a mere book.

    // -- edit --
    LOL it's even funnier ... quite a few of those 'challenged' books are on the list of English books kids are still allowed to read.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2003
  6. The_Pikeman

    The_Pikeman Also known as Howski

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    I'm happy to say me ... well I have seen about 10 mins of the film .... if I want a fantasy book I'll go read something by Mr Prattchet thank you very much.

    I really do belive that no book should be deemed unaceptable, even something as offensive as mien kampf. Its when a persons input is censored that you get the real problems, if I read a book by hitler I'm not gonna join the BMP and shave my hair off (mother nature has got that covered ;) ) by stoping someone reading or seeing something you are closing their minds and that can have a dangerous affect. I'd also be concerened about the US goverment being able to have access to your libary records without permission or reason.
    Damm I gotta get a copy of 1984 ...
    -How.
     
  7. Zundfolge

    Zundfolge New Member

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    The thing that irks me is that its not just a "harmless book" but its one of the earliest and most powerful diatribes on racism in American literature. Frankly it should be required reading again for Jr. High aged kids.

    As for the Harry Potter books, I imagine it'll stay high on the list for some time to come. First it was the Evangelical Christians that attacked it because of the "witchcraft" nonesense, but soon the Liberals will figure out that it's steeped in Libertarian ideology and they will be after it too :p
     
  8. Keganator

    Keganator White as Snow Moderator

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    What they think they are doing is having the freedom to express themselves. If people are worried about the content of a piece of text, that's fine. That's their right. They're going down the wrong path, though. They should seek to teach people the meanings behind the way these things were done, instead of blocking them out entirely. That's where they should loose the right to do it. The fact that there's even an issue is a burden on my soul, and is distasteful. Careful with what you say about 'those idiots' of our country, jafo. Every country has them. We just have the rights to back up our defense of keeping the text free. Some countries don't. Freedom isn't something that is won: it is constantly fought for, against people who would oppress it...whether the medium is books ... or otherwize.

    Obviously you missed the point, JAFO. Just because they're challeneged doesn't mean that that students can't read them. All of the books that I had read that were on that top ten list (save for Harry Potter ;) ) were part of my high school curriculum.

    Zundy, thank you. That is about the most concise way to say what I havn't been able to fathom. I agree wholeheartedly. I would say another book along those lines was Uncle Tom's Cabin...except that expresses it in a much more pronounced fasion.
     
  9. OICW

    OICW Reason & Logic > Religion

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    Lawrence Lipton.
     
  10. JaFO

    JaFO bugs are features too ...

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    // Keganator
    As if we (and other countries) don't have the rights to back them up ?

    http://www.geschiedenis.com/politiek/grondwet/1.html
    Article 7 : No one needs permission to publish his thoughts and ideas because of the ideas contained within ...
    Of course there's exceptions ... but I'm sure those things apply to your 'almighty constitution' as well.
    The only notable exception is that those < 16 years are protected by default.

    I still think it is strange/stupid that 'we' have less problems with this kind of stuff.

    Perhaps it's just the size of your country's population that makes it look like there are a lot of challenges to books, but the fact remains that IMHO the very act of wanting to ban a book is contrary to what your most often quoted "freedom of speech" stands for.

    I guess some people really are either that dumb or that obsessed with wanting to impress their morals on someone else that they forget the very thing that allows them to do so ...
     
  11. Olethros

    Olethros Functional alcoholic

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    Just in case this thread has gotten anybody actually interested in reading Adventures of Hukcleberry Finn and/or Uncle Tom's cabin (as well you should), point your browser to http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/ebooks/

    That's all. I can't really add anything more that that without repeating what's already been written in this thread, so...

    ...Well, except "go read the His dark materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman," perhaps. If nothing else, than because the more well-informed zealots (those few who actually read the books they deem "dangerous") have taken quite a disliking to it. And - of course - because it's quite a brilliant read in its own right.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2003
  12. TheShiningWizard

    TheShiningWizard Because it's more fantastical.

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    Not much to say except, regarding Huck Finn, racism in a book does not necessarily make a book racist.
     
  13. Keganator

    Keganator White as Snow Moderator

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    Haha, yes, but that goes the same for any freedom we have; there are people who think they know better. Guns, Trials, Speech, there will always be someone who thinks they know better than anyone else or the written law. That is not unique to this country or country, let alone this time period. And Like I said earlier, it's their right to complain...they have the freedom of speech as well ;)
     
  14. Mr. Apocalypse

    Mr. Apocalypse My brain must be broken

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    Can we ban the ones that are just bad reading?
     

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