Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banned Books.

As a librarian, I'm supposed to celebrate "Banned Books Week," but each year I'm confused when I set up the display of banned books. I have at least two boxes of books to face out on the display table. And when I set them out, no one rushes up to remove them. The table is clearly marked "Banned Books," but the Library and the Police and the Anti-Everything League let them remain there for anyone to borrow and read.

This week the Annoyed Librarian led me to an interesting Wall Street Journal ("Communists") article by MITCHELL MUNCY.

"Is Banned Books Week a celebration of free speech, or is it a way for government employees to bully ordinary citizens by stigmatizing those who complain ([by calling them] "bigots," "false patriots," "screamers," "burners")?"

America was founded by complainers. To complain is a human being's greatest expression of free will. My girlfriend's dog, who isn't human, complains when she makes poo and doesn't get a reward quick enough. But now that I think about it, maybe she's complaining against some injustice. Maybe she's attempting to express some desire for more rights denied her through the lack of opposable thumbs. If only she could hold a pen, I'm sure she'd have something to tell me. But as soon as I give her some bacon-like treat, she seems to forget all that.

For Banned Books Week, we need to remember that the act of challenging a book is just as important a freedom as defending free speech against that challenge.

Sure, we can laugh at people who attempt to remove Harry Potter from the school library, but we should never try to deny them that process to make the complaint. Without those challenges, where would we get the list of books that I set out on that display? Russia?

I guess I could put out copies of Fame and Fortune and Other F Words and METAL ASS. There are thousands of libraries in this country and not one carries my books. Now that's censorship.

[sorry for odd Communist, Russia comments... channeling Glenn Beck]