Monday, October 01, 2007

Times Haven't Really Changed - Have They?

For me, banned books have always had the opposite effect. It just makes me want to read them all the more, even if I've never shown an interest in the title before. What is so controversial about it? I have to find out. I need to know.

I remember back in the late 80's in my hometown of Panama City, Florida the Bay County School Board met to issue a list of books they were banning from the schools. On the list of course was Huckleberry Finn, everyone's favorite love/hate book when it comes to banning. There were others, too. The Outsiders I believe was one of them. I remember distinctally one teacher getting up before the board and ripping their criteria for banning to shreads. We had this hardware store in town called Scotty's. Their logo was "With the helping hand of Scotty's you can do it yourself." - She told the school board that under their criteria, even Scotty's would have to remove their sign from public streets. Oh, how I laughed. As did the rest of the packed meeting room. The school board however, didn't seem to think it was funny. Go figure.

Now as we go into yet another round of Book Banning Week, I see the same arguments posted on articles. The same moral thumpers thinking they know what's best for everyone. When I went back to college a few years ago to get my English degree, I dabbled with the thought of changing careers from medicine to teaching. I decided instead to devout my time to writing and stay in the health field - but I digress. While doing a student survey of schools where I had to spend all day at a high school in varying English classes, most of them were reading their required books (the literature portion of the cirriculum). I was very surprised to find in one senior classroom the required reading was "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." I told the teacher I was shocked by how progressive that seemed. It never would have been allowed in my high school. Let alone as part of the reading program. I was actually proud of my local schools. Shocked, but proud.

As I look at the list of books banned from libraries that made this year's list. I shake my head. Just as with everything else, it seems as though parents want someone else to police their children's behavior so they don't have to. When will people learn that the best barometer of what your kid reads is what YOU as the parent will let them? If the schools were to take out the books that could possibly offend every race, creed and religious affliation, there would be no more school libraries. Because, quite frankly, with this American melting pot, no one can possibly anticipate what every single person will have an objection to. Sure, there are the big taboos that we all know about, but what about the smaller ones that are just objectionable to someone's personal taste? Where do the libraries and schools draw the line and say.."No, this one is staying in." How do they stand firm without offending someone else. The way I look at it, it's a no-win situation for the schools. They want to protect children - fine, I applaud that - but let's also show a bit of discretion on our own parts.



Skylar Masey said...


I love the example about Scotty's!

Lynda K. Scott said...

I had to chuckle about Scotty's helping hand :D but I totally agree with your viewpoint on schools/banning books. Great post!