Sunday kicked off Banned Books Week, an annual event that essentially celebrates the freedom to read.
Whenever I hear or think about banned books, I always remember this scene from the 1984 movie, Footloose.
In this scene, the highly influential Reverend Moore stops the ultra conservative citizens of Beaumont from tossing library books that they deem as offensive and/or unsuitable into a burning trashcan. He exclaims, "Satan is not in these books! He's in here, he's in your hearts. Go on home, all of you. Go sit in judgement on yourselves."
That scene and that comment have really stuck with me over the years and I hold the same opinion. You see, I believe wholeheartedly in freedom of the press, in free speech, in the freedom of access to information, and the freedom of choice. Those are some of the essential cornerstones on which our country was founded and they are liberties that I, as an American, enjoy.
Having said that, however, I must also admit that I believe when it comes to children, that appropriateness is key, be it music, movies, video games, online media, or books. (And let me just state for the record - the whole debate of what is "appropriate" is a discussion for another day and another blog entry. LOL! It isn't a simple case of black or white. It falls into a gigantic gray area.)
So, basically here's my stance: I strongly believe that some books are appropriate for certain ages, but not necessarily for others. I also believe that the banning of books as a whole is wrong.
In honor of Banned Books Week, I'm exercising my right to read whatever I damn well please and I encourage you to do the same! I am reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.
I chose this book for several reasons. First, it's an American Classic that I somehow emerged from public school having never read. Second, it's one of the oldest books ever to be banned and one of the most challenged books of all time. It was first banned in 1885, the year after it was published. It was called, "trash and only suitable for the slums" back then. Third, it is considered one of the most influential books that helped shape America by the Library of Congress. And lastly, due to its age, reading it also helps me satisfy my tenth and final category in a book challenge.
Happy Banned Books Week! I encourage you to enjoy a freedom that is often questioned, challenged, and denied of many throughout the world. Happy reading to you!
*Periodically, I unearth old blog entries from my first year of blogging that didn't receive many views in order to give them new life. Any blog entry that is being given a second shot will feature "From the Archives" after the title. This entry was originally published on September 27, 2015. It has been edited for grammatical errors and updated in terms of dates, accuracy, and relevancy.