It’s now the tail end of Banned Books Week, and when perusing the list of prohibited titles, you may be surprised to find that The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, is among the top fifteen.
Censorship is everywhere and the general assumption is that it’s for the utmost moral reasoning. From a young age, people instantly recognize the bleeps on TV and know they weren’t supposed to hear the naughty words coming from the screen. It’s so ingrained in us so young that no one thinks to question it until adulthood. People go through an equal amount of experiences that hopefully allowed their skin to thicken to such things no rational person would pepper into a child’s ever-developing brain. However, there is indeed a large divide between an obscenity being blurted out and something much more obtrusive to the artist’s vision. While censorship can have some positive benefits to it, just like an egg in a frying pan the degree set can quickly burn away everything that was worthwhile.
When it comes to the world of literature, censorship can often steers away from the moral standpoint that is practically the sole principle that holds the whole idea together. I’m focusing on American Literature specifically because I feel this is where it’s the most contentious, which brings us to the grandaddy of timeless American classics: Mark Twain. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a ton of different controversial themes are painted in a more starkly realistic light. The poor downtrodden of the south, race relations of the time, child abuse, con artistry, slave liberation, racial acceptance, and to put it bluntly, the perfuse usage of the N word are all covered through the novel. At the time the book was being heavily criticized and censored to the point where some regional copies of the book were redacted to change what offended many members of Twain’s audience. What were these people trying to keep away from the younger eyes of all the controversial subjects listed? The diction of some of the characters.
image via medium
The whole novel takes place in the south where ostensibly people speak ‘funny’ as Twain once put it in some of his travel writing. Twain didn’t write the dialogue of Huck Finn the way he did out of malice but for accuracy. He believed that if his characters spoke authentically in their respective regions that it would drive the points the novel was making about how people treat one another that much further. A very effective way to reflect in real life is to make a distinct but subtle connection between the two, acting as a conduit for the readers.
Twain brilliantly chose the manner in which different characters spoke to make the world of Huck Finn feel as real and at times subtly tragic to the world he and his contemporaries inhabited. His critics on the other hand believed that the use of diction would instil bad grammar and speech in the youth. All while completely missing the point of the novel which was a grand statement on race that wouldn’t be too different from an abolitionist pamphlet, at least in a didactic sense.
As a result, the book was censored in a way that would fly over most people’s heads. Obviously, through modern eyes, the N word would be the focal point of the issue but for the popularity of the timeless novel. What shuts down that argument is that despite the word, the usage it drives home the point of how people interact with each other. Huck admires Jim as a father figure even though he uses the word just as much as the other characters do but Huck’s intentions are ultimately altruistic as he fights to set him free in the end. All of this brave content would’ve been lost had the censorship gone further and in fact, the argument against the book’s usage of the racial slur still comes up today. Once more with good intentions, these critics miss the point as to why it’s used.
image via Smithsonian Mag
With a plethora of increasingly graphic content in books as well as other mediums ever-growing, this serves as a good example of when the purest idea of censorship can get muddled under issues that are fueled by a lack of understanding. The art suffers tenfold when people try to censor anything under the guise that the minds of the youth shall not be tainted by the content adults take for granted. When it’s not backed for the right reasons, the public doctors the novelist’s thoughts to something that more resembles a vivisection as opposed to a gulp of medicine.
If authors aren’t allowed to reasonably explore differing and oftentimes difficult subject matters then that alone can sully the minds of the youth as those ideas explored encourage them to etch out the literary landscape further. Stagnation of forethought is infinitely worse than any diction a southerner can muster. While censorship can help, I reiterate, in some disturbing scenes that I won’t go into detail about in say, Stephen King’s It, the line between safe tinkering via the masses and displaying the woes of mankind is finely drawn. Censorship can indeed be beneficial but only under just cause as well as forbearance for the sake of the message the world needs to witness.
Feature image via Flickr
It’s Banned Book Week and librarians are fighting back. Last year over four-hundred-eighty books were banned, and a majority of the books had to do with the LGBTQ community. This year the books don’t even have to have an LGBTQ protagonist—just a single LGBTQ background character is reason enough for a book to be banned.
Image via Libguides
The target demographic for this week of banned books is, of course, children and teens. The top books on the list are Young Adult novels and children’s books. The number one book on the list is written by author Alex Gino, George which has a transgender character. Even the best selling book, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas landed at number four due to readers being led to have negative views of the police.
This is why librarians are fighting back and encouraging readers to go on Twitter and be a part of Dear Banned Author Letter-Writing campaign. It gives a voice to young readers to advocate for their favorite banned books and fight against censorship.
Featured Image via Huffington Post
Banned Books Week is coming! That means that the period between September 23d and September 29th is a time to recognize and celebrate works suppressed by censorship for dubious reasons. This years theme is “Banning Books Silences Stories.”
Not everyone is jazzed for Banned Books week. Specifically, a group of pastors in Maine are distinctly not jazzed. In fact, they are so devoid of jazz that they recently sought to have a local library in Maine ban books from the banned book table they’ve set up for Banned Book Week. And the repetition in that sentence makes me think of that one Tyler, the Creator gif which I’ll put here for your amusement:
Image via Tenor
The display, pictured below, featured several works of LGBTQ literature, and this seems to be the rallying point of the complaint made. On September 6th, Dan Pears of Rumford Baptist Church, Justin Thacker of Praise Assembly of God, and Nathan March of the Parish of the Holy Saint co-wrote a letter to the Rumford Public Library which read, among other things: “children should not be subjected to early sexualization” and that the display preaches “far left political views that sees homosexuality as acceptable.”
Here is the pastors’ letter in full:
Image via Wonkette
Image via Wonkette
The library in question has the support of both the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF). Even without the support of these organizations, the library, as a public institution, still has no obligation to curate its offerings based on the tastes of individuals or groups thereof in the local community. And the library said as much in the board meeting that was called to address the concerns of the pastors.
An article published by Wonkette has reported that, “after a brief hubbub and a rather pitched fuck-tussle,” the library stood its ground and refused to take down the display. The article also reports that author and Maine resident Katrina Ray-Saulis said that one of the letter-writing pastors “verbally expressed that he would like to pursue the destruction of all books regarding homosexuality in the library.”
In a satisfying end, the meeting concluded with a unanimous vote to preserve the display, with Board of Trustees chairperson Carolyn Kennard saying, “By moving that (display), it would be a form of censorship that we cannot do, under any circumstance.”
Image via Gifer
Featured Image Via Wikipedia.