Sunday, September 25, 2011
In Celebration Of Banned Book Week
Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies, The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
- C.S. Lewis
Provocative quote, isn't it? And so true. I am celebrating Banned Book Week loud and proud. As an author of sexy and spicy tales, I know what I write is controversial to many people. I know that if certain conservative wingnuts out there had their way, I would be on the banned list. I think that the very idea of censorship is abhorrent. It's telling people what to think.
What surprises me is how innocent censorship starts out. Well, Melissa, people say, we just don't want our kids to read those kinds of things. They're five, ten, two years old. They don't need to know about sex, violence, curse words, etc. I know that, I have four nephews. But, kids talk. They get and pass along, a lot of wrong information. I know because until I was fifteen, I thought that pregnancy only occurred right before your period. Well, a good friend from grade school, whose son is now 25, gave me that wrong information when we were eleven.
People love to say that Huckleberry Finn is about promoting violence and racial slurs. "We don't need that coming into our homes, Mel. We don't want to promote racism. We're good people." The mere act of reading about racism and slavery doesn't make you a violent plantation overseer. If reading affected people like that, then I would be a six foot blonde warrior goddess and a werewolf. I also would have gone to Narnia.
It all starts with this idea that we're somehow protecting our kids, ourselves, that we're not supporting cruelty or offending anyone, that we're making our society better. I am a sex writer, the proverbial canary in the mine shaft. What happens to those of us on the controversial fringe, snowballs. I guarantee it. First, it's the erotica and porn, then it's horror, then sci fi, then murder mysteries and on and on, all for innocent-sounding ideals.
Bertrand de Jouvenel said "A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves." We keep censoring stuff to protect our children, to promote good thoughts and eventually there is no stopping. More books get fed to the flame. Freedom is difficult. If we are to keep our freedom of choice, then we must defend others' choices when we don't like them. Instead of blocking our children from having the information, we should have open discussion.
Okay, I am off of my high horse. I will leave you with this thought, though. The next time you hear about someone turning down the censorship road, ask yourself, would you like to see your favorite author end up on a banned book list? Although that is a hellagood marketing strategy...Melissa Bradley author of banned books. Anyway, I'm sure the answer is a resounding no, so go on and read some banned books. I'm cracking open my very favorite novel and long time member of banned book lists everywhere, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Here are some banned books to consider:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Kite Runner by Khaled Housseini
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Flamingo Rising by Larry Baker
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Flashcard of My Life by Charise Maricle Harper
Uncle Bobby's Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen