Welcome to my first "Really?!?" post. This is a new feature where Cat or myself can rant or rave about current topics in books, celebrities, television, movies - really anything.
There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.~ Excerpt from The American Library Associations Freedom to Read Statement
Disclaimer: I am a fan of Fifty Shades of Grey. It's no secret. I used the series as a current example in this feature. By no means is this piece on censorship only about Fifty Shades. It's about censorship in general with one of today's hot topics.
Today, I want to talk about banned books. As a former teacher, and someone who has completed way too much schooling, I am a firm believer that no books should be banned. Over the years, the following titles have been banned or challenged:
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1987 - challenged in South Carolina for language and sexual references)
- The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (1960-2009 challenged and banned for content, language, sexual situations, etc.) There's no question that this is one of my favorite books of all time.
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939-1993 challenged and banned for vulgar language and taking the Lord's name in vain)
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1977 - 2009 challenged and banned for its racial themes)
- The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1930-1933 banned for content and even burned in Nazi Germany bon fires)
Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to attend a school district while growing up that required the reading of every book on this list above. I don't think I turned out as a degenerate or a morally bankrupt sexual deviant because of the influence of these books on my life.
This brings me to the most recently banned book. I know it's a hot button, and I understand that this is an extremely polarizing book. The examples above concern books that were banned or challenged in public school districts. Today, libraries in several U.S. states are banning Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.
The banning of Fifty Shades of Grey isn't as egregious as the classic banned books. Fifty Shades of Grey will never be required reading in any school. However, I have a problem with any government system banning any book.
Libraries in Wisconsin, Georgia and Florida have all either declined to order the book or pulled it from shelves. Other states may soon follow. "It's semi-pornographic," said Don Walker, a spokesman for Brevard County, Fla., where the library put 19 copies of the book on the shelves then pulled the novel after reading reviews about it. Some 200 notices had to go out to people on a waiting list to read it. ~ Source:
Okay - so Brevard County, Florida is saying that Fifty is semi-pornographic. Apparently, though, according to my sources in Florida (Hi, Golidlox!) men are very able to purchase hard core porn magazines and videos. If the reasoning is that Fifty is too steamy, than why allow any pornography to be sold at all? Okay - I get it. Men and women have a choice or purchasing porn. It's their money.
But books, especially books that are on the prestigious New York Times Bestseller List should be carried by libraries. As of the June 10, 2012 edition, the three books in the Fifty Shades series hold the top three spots in paperback, e-book and combined paperback and e-book (http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/overview.html). Public libraries were formed to serve the tax paying public. So if the tax paying public is clamoring for a certain book, then why is it the libraries decision to decide which books are appropriate for its readers? Is this a ploy to stop women from reading erotic novels? Because - here's the problem explained by a spokesperson for the American Library Association:
"When a book is removed from the shelf, folks who can't afford a Nook or a Kindle, the book is no longer available to them," said Deborah Caldwell Stone, the deputy director of the American Library Association's office for intellectual freedom. ~ Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/09/book-banned-fifty-shades-of-grey_n_1503949.html
So what this really tells me about these libraries, is that they are performing an act of censorship, which isn't good for anyone. Of course, I wouldn't want my teenage daughter to read this book, but to deny adult women, who can't afford to purchase these books, an opportunity to read this bestselling series, is nothing more than censorship.
From an article posted on www.cinameblend.com:
Here's a clip from The View discussing Fifty Shades, as well as the series being banned from Florida libraries:
50 Shades Of Grey has every right to exist on public library shelves because it’s a book people want to read. It doesn’t matter if those people tend to be fifty-year-old women with kids. Their rights are worth protecting just as much as anyone else’s. It’s because we willingly look the other way and allow censorship like this that library systems have the balls to ban other, more critically acclaimed books.
And now that Fifty Shades of Grey has gone mainstream, do you think that public libraries have the right to determine what is and is not acceptable reading?