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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Banned Book Week 2011: Part Two Intellectual Snobs vs. Parental Rights

It’s the middle of Banned Books Week, the world has not crumbled, at least for the moment. The Freedom to Read is still alive and well in this great country of ours. From the looks of it will be for a long time to come. Why should another blog be written on censorship and freedom? Simply put, the debate will not end because of two ideological forces are colliding like two ships that have missed the lighthouse signal.

First let’s examine intellectual snobbery for a moment. Let’s face it everyone who holds a degree in any field of study has a touch of the “snob” syndrome. When it comes to earning a higher degree than the traditional four-year Bachelors, the “snob” syndrome become almost incurable. A college degree does not guarantee common sense, but it can cause someone to look down at others as unable to understand the complexity of literature and thus can not form any valid debate against a piece of work. This type of thought should be changed and quickly for the sake of saving literature of all genres.

On the other hand, there is a knee jerk reaction from the other side that believes all books that have bad language, sex and drugs are bad. There has always been a school of thought that has insisted that books for children can only be valuable if its clear, clean and comfortable. In other words, it doesn’t rock the boat that will lead teens to ask uncomfortable questions. Those who hold onto this school of thought are often thought of as living in the past, not civilized or just don’t get it when it comes to the world, especially as it relates to teens. Like it or not, there is validity to this point of view. Just as there is validity to the point of view that teens should be exposed to different types of genre and writers. Both sides lay claim to wanting what is best for children, and neither side is willing to concede that the other might have a good idea. Why is that?

Recent titles that have been published in the Young Adult section have caused alarm and scrutiny by many groups. Authors who want to push the envelope are doing so with topics such as drugs, suicide, sex and gay life styles. It seems these topics are becoming more prevalent in the plots, causing some to wonder if every book has to have a gay person, a suicide, drugs or all of the above to make a good story? For every intellectual freedom snob who stands up for these books, the question has to be if the plots make the books more enticing to them personally? If the answer is yes, perhaps their bias is guiding them to censor anyone who is against these titles. If the answer is no, and all books with great plots enthrall them perhaps there is room to communicate that to the other side. The opposite question can be asked of parents who want to ban “bad” books in schools. Censorship from the government is never a good thing. Having said that, parents' rights are just as important if not more so than their minor chidlren. Every teen should have a good home, great education and the basic needs of life. Those needs do not include reading everything under the sun. There are just some topics that families should discuss together in their own time, in their own way,

Celebrating Banned Book Week should be the celebration of living in a free society that allows for all types of books to be published and read without fear of punishment. It shouldn’t turn into a political hijacking. In the whole scheme of things, teens are looking to adults to help them along the way in life. Once becoming a teen does not mean that they are free to explore the world without adult aid. It simply means they still need a hand once in awhile to guide them through the maze of information. Teens deserve nothing less than great books, good role model and a little advice to help them sort it all out. That should be what everyone should strive to achieve.
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