Provoking Change

Julianna Bonnett
By Julianna Bonnett January 12, 2018 14:23

Provoking Change

By Julianna Bonnet

While many educators and writers are against censoring books for adults, some believe there needs to be a certain level of discretion for children.

Reasons for the banning books range from amounts of violence to racist comments. Many books are pulled off shelves for religious reasons, like Perks of Being a Wallflower, (1999) which explains the main character’s journey through his life as he talks about religious viewpoints, homosexuality and uses offensive language. Another example is Stephen King’s Carrie that uses a controversial treatment of religion. Many literacy foundations, including the Canadian Children’s Literacy Foundation, have had publishers grapple with the question of who their primary audience should be.

Jonathon Flieger, a local author who has written for Mcsweeney’s Internet Tendency, said banning books garners attention.

“I’m opposed to it on a lot of levels but just as a matter of practicality,” said Flieger.

“It’s inefficient and creates an interest in what otherwise probably would not have garnered much attention. But, I mean, that can be a good thing. Some of the books that are now well-read classics are really only as famous as they are because there was an attempt to suppress them.”

Flieger said parents should censor their children from unwanted books.

“Parents should be cautious about what their children are being exposed to and when, but telling an adult what they should or should not read is futile. Especially in the age of the Internet,” said Flieger.

“There is an argument to be made for suppressing things that are hateful or might incite violence, but I think this might only galvanize the hateful people. Also, by putting their names on bad books it makes it easier to know who to avoid.”

Many books that have shaped a generation of great writers have been banned, including Catcher in The Rye, Fahrenheit 451, The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird and Where the Wild Things Are according to The American Library Association.

“I’m in the middle about what I think about banning books,” said Christine Marenette, an English teacher at Belle River District High School.

“At the beginning, I would never say yes to banning books because that is someone’s freedom of speech but with all the hate in the world today, it can be necessary. There’s so much crime and violence that I believe reading a certain text that explains that can bring up some questioning.”

From Feb. 25 to March 3, Canadians celebrate Freedom to Read Week.  This event takes place every year to reaffirm that freedom of the written word cannot be taken away from anyone. It celebrates books that have been banned elsewhere and encourages individuals to read. Books like This One Summer by Mariko Tamika, Essex County by Jeff Lemire and Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro are all Canadian books that are celebrated at this event.

Kitty Pope at Windsor Public Library on December 19, 2017.(Photo by: Julianna Bonnett)

Kitty Pope, CEO of Windsor Public Library, said a book is your choice, if you do not want to read it, you do not have to.

“It’s the customer’s responsibility to pick up the book or not. A book is like a movie. If you do not feel comfortable with what you are seeing, do not pick up the book and read. There’s an off button with movies just like with books, you can easily shut the book.”

Pope said she has read banned books that are now bestsellers.

“Books that have been banned in the past, like Catcher in the Rye or To Kill A Mockingbird are now classics. Most libraries in North America tell individuals it is their choice of what they want to read, not us. We do not make the choice of what books they can or cannot read. Libraries have a balanced collection.”

It is likely books will continue to be challenged if readers believe they spread hate, violence or contain offensive language but like the great author Harper Lee said:

“The book to read is not the one which thinks for you, but the one which makes you think.”

Julianna Bonnett
By Julianna Bonnett January 12, 2018 14:23

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