Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Banned books? Who started this mess?

I wasn't made aware of banned books until I was a senior in high school. I lived in a town where people kept banned books kind of like a hush-hush/on the downlow thing. So I thought i'd research a little bit about where we got banned books from, today's banned books and what we can do to protect our first ammendment right. Banned book week is a yearly week long event that happens September 26- October 3rd.

How it started: Banning books has been a on going battle for centuries over censorship ideas. Think about it, books have been dismissed and destroyed since they started using writing materials. Book burnings were efficient ways to prevent the distribution of books because back then they didn’t have but maybe a copy or two of the actual thing. It wasn’t until the invention of the printing press, which made distribution a lot easier, that book burnings were not all that efficient. I was reading somewhere that in Germany; they put a censorship office after they published two popular books. This was to protect people from “dangerous publications”. I’m guessing that they were probably trying to protect themselves so that the people could pretty much be single minded, as to not revolt (kind of like the same situation in the hunger games if you think about it). In America, what was considered the first public burning was William Pynchon’s religious pamphlet. In 1873, Congress passed a law called “Comstack Law, which banned the mailing of materials found to be obscene, filthy or just down right offensive (I think it was just anything that gave people more knowledge and made them see stuff in another light). The book that finally broke this ridiculous law was James Joyce’s, “Ulysses” in the case of United States v. One book called Ulysses.

Today: Book banning still occurs today. People go to great lengths to ban a book by challenging them, which means that people won’t have access to the novel free of charge; like in libraries and stuff like that. Most books are challenged because of their “racy materials, sex, drugs, and witch craft". The ALA (American Library Association) reported over 6,000 book challenges between the years of 1990-2000. If enough people oppose the challenge, then more likely than not, the book will not be removed. The problem with today’s society is that a lot of people don’t notice, or simple don’t care. According to the firstamendmentcenter.org, the ALA estimates for every recorded book challenge, 4 or 5 go unreported. In the last decade, according to the ALA, Of Mice and Men and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were the most challenged. This decade it’s The Harry Potter Series that’s most challenged for its “wizardry and magic”, oh and let’s not forget “Satanic Influence”. (Rolls eyes)

What you can do to help: Go to ala.org and get informed! We have a right to read what we want to read guys. It amazes me that for every book that’s recorded, 4 or 5 go unreported. Go to your public library, find out what books are being challenged, if you haven’t read the book then read it (at least give it a chance), there are so many little things that we can do to help make people aware of this. I think it violates our first amendment period. Anyway guys just wanted to inform you about when banned books started and the effects it has on today’s society.

Comment Question of the Blog:
What do you think of today’s challenges/ banning of popular books? Classics? Thoughts? Leave me your answer in the comment section below.

As always,
That Chick That Reads


  1. Ok, not to be a devil's advocate here, but...oh what am I saying, I love a good argument.
    On the other hand, I feel that there is a right for books to be questioned and banned - a lot of those people are parents who feel that their children shouldn't read that book. When those children are adults, I think that's a different story - a decision they can make for themselves. But there are a few books out there (ironically not any on the banned list) that I don't feel are appropriate for the age group they're written for. Yes, we have a right to read what we want, but children and even teens have a few exceptions. I know I sound like a 60 year old grandma, when in fact I'm only 28. But when you have a child one day you'll feel the same.

  2. I absolutely feel that parents have a right to restrict what *their* children read. However, I don't agree that they should be able to decide what other people's children should be able to borrow from libraries. Great post, Leslie - I hadn't thought about the reason challenges succeed being because nobody challenges *those*.