“You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
-Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451
Along with the rest of the nation, we are dedicating a week to pondering the issues of censorship in our beloved field of literature. Banned Books Week has been going strong since 1982, when the United States experienced a sudden upswing of book-challenging, but attempted book censorship has been going on for much longer, and continues into the present day. U.S. District Court judge Joseph L. Tauro, when faced with ruling to uphold or strike down a school book ban, wisely stated that "the most effective antidote to the poison of mindless orthodoxy is ready access to a broad sweep of ideas and philosophies. There is no danger from such exposure. The danger is mind control."
According the the American Library Association, "a challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection." Often cited reasons for challenging a book's presence include violence, offensive language, homosexuality, religious viewpoints, satanic themes, sexual explicitness, and inappropriateness for age group. Some recent examples of most challenged books are respesented below (and are, of course, available for purchase here at The Bookloft!).
Unfortunately, some challenges do work, ending in the book being banned, in a particular school, for instance, or even a whole city, state or country. Below are a few examples of books that have been banned within the United States, but thanks in great part to many first amendement court cases, these bans have since been overthrown.