Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Biggest reasons for banning books

What are the biggest reasons for banning books?  Sex is definitely the biggest reason: If you look at the list of 2012's most commonly challenged books, eight out of ten list sex as a reason.  (I consider "homosexuality" as being related to sex, by the way, so I included And Tango Makes Three as one of the eight.  It's related, if you think about it.  The Victorian-like resistance to sex in culture wants it to be kept behind closed doors, and the very acknowledgement of homosexuals' existence inherently implies sex.)

The next most common reason for challenging books seems to be a blanket "unsuited for age group," which was used in six out of ten of the books on the list for 2012.  Seriously, what exactly does that mean?  When you take a book written for that age group and claim it's unsuited for the age group it was written for?  It means that you disagree, is what it really means, and that sounds to me like personal opinion... not something that should be forced on other students in your kid's class or at your children's school or all of the patrons at your library.

"Religious viewpoint" was only used as an argument in two of the top ten challenged books from last year, but I wouldn't be surprised if this is a common, albeit unspoken, reason: that the book in some way offended somebody's religious sensibilities.  After all, some of the major topics that people ban books for -- sex and homosexuality, for instance -- are topics that religion has a very strong opinion of.

Finally, "offensive language" was mentioned more than once, which I find interesting.  There are fewer restrictions on what can be said on radio and TV these days, yet the potty language in Captain Underpants is considered grounds for challenging a book?  Good heavens, how many of those same parents have foul-mouthed radio shows on in the car as they are driving their kids around town?  I'll bet a lot of those parents don't think twice about that, yet they are opposed to books whose goal is simply to be silly and fun and therefore encourage more kids to read.  Besides, kids have been using potty language since way before Captain Underpants arrived on the scene, so it's not like you can argue that the books have caused the problem.

I find it interesting to think about why books are challenged and banned, mostly because I think the reasons are usually bogus -- or at least indicative of something else!

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