Banning a book chains the mind

(Warning: This is a bit more of a Rag than a Take, but, considering the occasion and the cause, I couldn’t help myself. Hope you understand, and enjoy.)

I love books. Not afraid or ashamed to say it, I love them. I love the smell of ink and the way the paper feels when you turn the page. I love going into a book store and wandering among the stacks in search of hidden treasure. Most of all, I love the ideas, the messages, the inspiration, the sheer, unadulterated adventure that resides between the covers of a good book. And yet…

I take the ability and the freedom to read for granted. I admit it. I have never, in all my 49+ years, been told what I could or could not read. I have never been denied access to any piece of literature. But, even in our modern age, there are people who are currently (as in right now, today) attempting to have certain books removed from libraries and schools for any one of a myriad of censorious and/or bizarre reasons. (The number of books that such people have tried to get rid of is so extensive that there is an actual list.) Having come to this realization, I find it difficult to speak about the subject without spluttering. Not because I don’t know what to say, but because there are so many arguments against censorship that I can’t get them all past my lips in any coherent order. So, I’ll write some of them instead.

  1. Freedom of speech is a basic right which ought to be guaranteed by every government, everywhere. Governments who rightly have the support of their citizenry won’t be afraid to do so.
  2. Sharing of ideas opens the intellectual marketplace and expands our collective consciousness, often producing great benefits to mankind. (Think: the Space program; Velcro, fiber optics and Tang.)
  3. Freedom of speech helps protect the average citizen from oppression. It has the ability to drag corruption into the light of day so it can be staked just like any other evil vampire, before it sucks the life out of a culture.
  4. Good writing expands the mind and gives rest to the weary heart by offering a temporary escape from whatever ails us. It offers joy, hope and understanding, along with the comprehension that we are not alone in our human experience.

In case you haven’t noticed, it is Banned Book Week and International Book Week. In celebration, may I suggest the following: Read.

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