BY JONATHAN CORTEZ
When it comes to things that are banned here in the states, not a whole lot comes to mind. One of the few things that does come to mind when it comes to something being banned nationwide is Kinder Surprise Eggs. Yet something else we don’t remember that often are banned books. Challenging, banning and even burning books has been a huge issue ever since our good friend Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. From old classics such as “Catcher in the Rye” to newer releases like “The Hate u Give,” the flame of censoring literature still rages on to this day. Many students don’t care about the censorship of books, mainly because they don’t read all that often. Yet regardless of whether or not you’ve read up on “Of Mice and Men,” the censorship of books is something all of us should look into and make sure we are aware of.
So why do people even want to ban books to begin with? What’s dangerous about 500-600 pages of paper with some words printed on them? What’s in these novels that stirs up adults, politicians and parents to want these books banned from school libraries and curriculum? The answer is fear. The men and women who challenge books to be banned, more often than not, fear the messages and themes in these novels. Whether it’s themes of teenage rebellion and isolation, such as in JD Salinger “Catcher in the Rye,” or the LGBTQ themes of “Two boys kissing,” many fear it. Many Politicians don’t want us to learn of LGBTQ themes, they don’t want us to read books with profane language or sexual scenes. Yet all these concepts are essential to growing as humans, along with understanding and accepting ourselves. The whole point behind writing literature is to explore topics such as the human condition, our relationships and wonderful themes of growing up.
Of course, not all books explore more hopeful or uplifting themes. The novel “Clockwork Orange” explored themes of extreme violence, so much so that the style of which the book is written in is considered to be an aestheticization of violence. In Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22” he takes a comedic look at the absurdity of war and the pressures it puts on its soldiers. These books are critical of human indulgences, war, and extreme violence. They make us realize just how absurd and dark life truly is.
In an interview with Ms.Epperson our school librarian I asked her about whether there had been any books banned or challenged here at Truman she said in her time being here or not there had been any books challenged here, only one book here at Truman has been challenged which was “Citrus”. The reasoning was a student claimed it contained incest between two step sisters. Incest is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “sexual intercourse between persons so closely related that they are forbidden by law to marry, also”. Due to the two sisters within the manga being step siblings the school ruled out the claim. This just goes to show that we need to monitor banned books as students may be misinformed or interpret a work of literature incorrectly. I also asked Ms. Epperson whether or not there are any cases in which it is justified for a book to be banned and her answer was Erotica books. Erotica is understandable as, how much substance can “Fifty Shades of Grey” really have?
While many people read literature and take in the complex themes woven into these books, not everyone has an interest in reading. Some people don’t have the time to read “War and Peace” or “Catch 22,” yet the challenging of books is something that affects all of us in more ways than just restricting options for literature lovers. If we don’t stand up for our right to read, what else will people ban? After School activities? Clubs? Not only that, what about outside of school? Will prejudiced adults begin to regulate what music is released in stores? Clothes and technology? If we don’t protect our small rights like reading, how long will it take before everything else gets challenged? Today our books are being banned but what will be banned tomorrow?