Talk to Me Tuesday #8 - Book Banning & Censorship

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Talk to Me Tuesday is a brand new weekly meme where we will discuss anything (and everything) literary-related in an open forum of honesty. Questions for the next week will be posted one week prior to the post on the Features page. If you'd like to participate in this weekly feature, simply create your post, link back to me, and add your post to the wonderful Mr. Linky below. Have fun, and have at it!
This week's question: How do you feel about book banning and censorship?

Let me preface this post by saying that all I’m about to say is of my own personal and humble opinions. If you’re offended by what I have to say, don’t read it…and with that, I think that leads pretty well into the Talk to Me Tuesday topic of the day. We’re in a day and age where people seem to think that book censorship and banning is productive, or at the very least, useful. If you don’t believe me, you’ve probably been hiding under a rock. Some of the most powerful authors have had their books come under attack because of the content being deemed “offensive.” Now, I’m a conservative Catholic with a strong and pretty sheltered upbringing, but I can firmly state that I am completely opposed to book banning and censorship.

Take, for example, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. It’s the story of a young girl learning to overcome her rape which, obviously, was brutal and traumatic. She lashes out. She’s angry, and yet, she overcomes. There are some people, however, that have called Speak a work of filth and “soft-core porn.” So where do you draw the line? The book educates teens about the importance of raising your voice for yourself. It expresses the need for self-worth and overcoming. Other books like Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler are criticized for being “loose,” as well, and while I’m not one for the casual sex scenario, that’s really not the point of the book.

Then, you have people banning books like the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. This series has been challenged and banned based on its fairly blatant criticism of organized religion. As a devoutly religious person, yes, I recognize the references, and sure, I’m not the biggest fan, but aren’t we all entitled to our opinions? Reading The Golden Compass at surface-level only let me enjoy the world the author created without being offended by the opinions or religious context. In the same breath, Harry Potter is being challenged in many areas because of the, and I quote “Pagan” context. Really? That’s utter ignorance.

Here’s what some of your fellow bloggers had to say about book banning and censorship:

Danna from Friendly Reader says, “I hate book banning and censorship. It’s stupid, and there’s really no need for it.”
Aimee from Coffee Table Press says, “Society shouldn’t be able to tell people what they are and aren’t allowed to read based on what they think is inappropriate.
John from Dreaming Reviews says, “It’s douchery. People ban books because they’re ignorant of the content and misinterpret them to meet a twisted agenda.”
Ashley from What’s Your Story Book Reviews says, “Book banning is the product of extreme ignorance. Some people can’t see the true message, so they shun it.”
Ivy from Ivy's Updates says, “I think it can’t be something one person decides. Every parent and every individual has the right to decide for themselves what is and isn’t right for them and their children.”
Here’s what I really mean to say: Not everyone is going to like every book. Not every book is going to be appropriate for every audience. However, if you are only reading a book to harp on the small details that should be overshadowed by the purpose of the book, perhaps you shouldn’t be reading it to begin with. Yes, there are some books I’d rather not read based on their content, but I have the right to make an informed decision, and an author should have the right to write their own stories. So, you don't like a book? Nobody is forcing you to read it, so don't force others NOT to read it. Just a thought... always remember to #speakloudly.

Want to weigh in and do your own Talk to Me Tuesday post for this week? Go ahead and link up!


  1. I'm against book banning--and that entire debacle revolving Laurie Halse Anderson's book highlighted just how ignorant some people are when it comes to books. They zero in on one or more small details that may or may not even be pertinent to the overall story and decide to blacklist it just because they don't like what it says. I can understand people not liking or even being opposed to a book's message if they READ THE ENTIRE BOOK but to ban it from everyone else is ridiculous. That robs a person's chance of finding their favorite book, of finding a book that gives them solace and making them realize that they are not alone. (SPEAK is one of the many examples of that)

  2. I completely agree against banning books. People should have a right to read whatever they like. If you don't like the subject matter than don't read it. Twenty Boys Summer if one I my favourite reads and I am shocked that people are criticizing it because of it so called 'loose' morals!

  3. I agree with what you have to a point. There seems to be a fine line between what is acceptable and what is not. But I believe there does need to be a standard for book censorship.

    People who are offended by such things as religion, sexual content, lifestyle choices, etc., need to learn to suck it up.

    But then there are books that are WAY over the top. Like the book that was banned from Amazon because it encouraged paedophilia, and educated men on how to get away with it...

    Some subjects are very delicate. People are going to forever be offended by different opinions. But I don't think books that encourage illicit acts belong on bookshelves.

  4. I agree with you wholeheartedly! I love these Talk to Me Tuesday memes. I think it's important to have an open discussion about books. Thanks so much for hosting this every week :)

  5. I'm totally against book banning and censorship in all forms. I believe everybody should have a right to read whatever they want to, whenever they want to!

    Will check back later to check the comments here. I enjoy reading these discussions every week. :)

  6. I am absolutely against book banning! Every person has a choice to read what they want. If someone thinks there's something wrong with a book, then they should not read it. Why prevent others from reading it?!!

  7. I agree with everything that you said and those who have responded to the question of banning books too. No one has the right to tell me or my children what book we can and can't read.

    I also have to wonder exactly where the people, who feel banning a book such as Speak and others mentioned, minds are? Seems to me they are the ones with misguided morality issues if they cannot see pass certain passages to the big idea these books offer.

  8. It is definitely done out of ignorance. people should be able to choose for themselves what to read. something "inappropriate" for someone may be perfectly fine for someone else.

  9. I'm obviously against book banning and censorship. However, you have to say one thing about book banning: it makes more people pick up the book to read and see what all the fuss is about. That, in itself, makes me smile because it's the exact opposite of what they want to do. :)

  10. There is a line in which I believe should not be crossed. And as much as I love books, yes I think certain books should be banned. Ex, that molester book that was put out. It brought up a lot of questions of freedom of speech. But there are people out there that just ruined it for everyone.

  11. Most books that are banned have a lot to teach people. There is a line that shouldn't be crossed (like Savannah said), but it's very rarely that a book crosses that line. Very rarely. I just kinda hate book banning because I feel like it takes away freedom of speech for authors in their books and freedom of reading for us readers.
    PS LOVE this meme!

  12. I'm against book banning. Everyone should be able to choose what books are "good." That being said, I think parents should carefully monitor the books their kids read. If they don't think they're appropriate for the kid's age or their values, they shouldn't let the kid read it. But that doesn't mean depriving everyone of the opportunity to read a book.
    Sometimes, the book banning issue can be tougher than you'd think. Nancy Pearl (the well-known librarian) commented on how hard it was to choose to stock a pro-Nazi, Holocause-denying book on her library shelves. It was something that was so against her beliefs and that of most reasonable people. But to not stock it would go against the idea of making books available to all. So sometimes it's not just the issue of conservatives trying to ban Harry Potter - something that seems silly to me and most others - but books that really seem morally wrong. Then it's harder to decide.

  13. It's not anyone's right to "ban a book" but your own! (and that of a parent's if the reader is under age) After reading Speak due to the whole book ban ordeal I was outraged. How can anyone say that book was soft core porn?! Obviously that idiot never read it.

  14. Great post! I also like how in Harry Potter they only celebrate Christian holidays but still say the same things. OI!

  15. I'm one of those old fashioned lots that supports book banning. Back in the day (when it was hard to buy books) book banning sucked because if your library didn't carry it, it was impossible to find it. But with all the online retailers, I believe that if a parent wants their child to have a book - then they can buy it for them.

    Great post!

  16. I don’t believe in book banning to the point that its not right to tell an author what he or she can write about. HOWEVER….I do feel as a parent I have the right to know what’s in my kids school library’s and what they are reading.

  17. I'm definitely against book banning and censorship. When I heard about the recent Mark Twain debacle, I was horrified! If something in a book offends you, it's your right to put it down. But don't take that right away from everyone else by censoring it!

    Though, of course, when it comes to young children, the parents should make the decision. But only for their own child--not everyone else's. :)

  18. "One reader’s discomfort should never stand in the way of another reader’s survival."

    -Scott Westerfeld

  19. I have a problem when people appoint themselves my guardian of what I should know. It quite frankly, ticks me off. I don't even like it when people try to tell parents what their kids should read. Shouldn't that be the family's decision? However, I admit that I did agree with the removal of the book that taught people how to lure a child to be molested. :-/

  20. I'm very pro-knowledge, and so book banning is a natural no-no for me. However, is it an absolute? Before the Amazon controversy back in the Fall over that disgusting 'how to' book, are there some instances where book banning may 'allowable', if the book promotes crimes against children. I was always adamantly against book banning, but this instance gave me pause, and I am still not sure what to make of it.

    I'd be interested in hearing what the rest of you think. My own reading material was never censored growing up, and I am very thankful for that, but I can't help but feel that something like this crossed the line. . .

  21. I meant to answer but I had so many thoughts in my head. First I was all no you can't ban books or censure them. It's so wrong.

    But then I started to think about that Amazon scandal with that published paedophile book and that is just wrong, and that book should not be out there.

  22. I echo your thoughts completely and think it's utterly ridiculous that the powers-that-be think they can (in the process of banning/challenging books) tell people what they can or what they can't read.

    Many of these books have often served to help people in one way or another and for people to take that away from other people - is pretty much taking liberties with their freedom of choice. I myself am a Christian, but I've never railed against or called for the banning of Philip Pullman's books.

    Also, my philosophy is - if you don't like the book, doesn't mean it gives you the right to deny other people the freedo of choice to read it.

  23. I am reading Speak right now just to see why it was banned and for the life of me I haven't noticed anything yet, only 50 pages left :-0

    I don't know how anyone has the power to bann a book actually, it is amazing to me.

  24. I don't agree with book banning. I believe that we write books for a reasons. To be heard. I also thing that every reader should be the judge of how they feel. If they don't like that's fine, but there is no reason for it to be banned because the topic made them uncomfortable.

  25. LOL, Love the douchery comment haha. I did a spit-take on that one. But I agree:

  26. I'm sorry I missed Talk To Me Tuesday. I was banning myself from the computer until I read some more and posted some reviews. This is a great topic. I read, believe me I read, through the literature about book banning and it said the only book to ever be successfully banned from the library was Fanny Miller. Has anyone ever read it? Just wondering if it would still be considered risque and if it's still banned.


  27. I keep missing this feature and it's one of my favorites. I'm in agreement, of course. I've never understood others obsessions with forcing the removal of books by censorship or banning. Yeah, if they don't want to read them and/or they don't want their families to read them, that I get, but the rest of the world doesn't always share their opinions. They should just NOT read it.

    Recently I listened to the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain on audiobook. Currently there is all this hubbub about some guy who wants to go in and change the "N" word and the word "injun" to "slave" and "Indian". Now, to me this is not cool. Yeah, I don't like the "N" word, but it was a realistic time piece of that period as was "injun". I don't think Mark Twain, was in anyway, attempting to be cruel. I think he was trying to display a time period and make a point about how things were. I think he was developing his characters and plot lines to show how things can change. To show how society shouldn't always rule the thoughts of others. There are a lot of things in history to be ashamed of, doesn't that mean we should keep them and learn from them! Not brush them away and pretend they never were. I hate censorship and banning and think that I and my family should be able to pick what we want to read. No one should be able to take that away.

    In the Closet With a Bibliophile

  28. What's so funny to me is that by banning a book, you are only bringing more attention to it. Awesome!

    Great post.

  29. Excellent post! It was time we talk about this.
    I hope it won't be the same with Thirteen reasons why and its suicide subject. I mean, it's not about encouraging it but understanding it. I understand some parents are scared about what their kids read, but sometimes it can be good to learn and grow.


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