Jarrett Stepman writes:
A well-educated person should read deeply and broadly…Reading authors with opinions both contemporary and ancient can be a profoundly illuminating experience. It becomes quite clear that the advancement of time has led to many positive changes—and more than a few bad ones as well…’Decolonizing’ bookshelves represents a further closing of the American mind, but now intellectual shallowness is being paired with self-righteous zealotry. It’s a frightful combination.
“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” ― Ray Bradbury
Is it just me, or is there a large slice of the population who no longer recognizes censorship when they see it? Read more here. Between banning books and revising history, seems to be a lot of this going around.
Maybe we’re all busy with our causes, activism and politics, that we are blowing right by the fundamentals?
Being offended doesn’t give one the right to censor. Censorship itself is what everyone should find offensive.
Recently, a Virginia school banned The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird because of “racial slurs.” Both books have been the subject of on and off bans for decades. A mother claimed, by reading these books, “We’re validating that these words are acceptable…” and there are “psychological effect” on the children.
One of the reasons that these books have endured is because they show how life was or address race issues. Contrary to causing “psychological effect(s)” on children, books are supposed to be read and studied with discussion. This is how school is supposed to work — and critical thinking.
“There is other literature they can use,” the parent argued. Like what? Some book that rewrites history or tries to discuss issues by being afraid to discuss them? The buzzword “inclusive” was thrown out there in trying to find books that didn’t offend anyone. Good luck with that.
Yes, I support every parents’ right to control what their child reads, learns or sees, but that doesn’t mean their position should be forced on others. Rather, we should decide not to be offended and try thinking and discussing these books with the students who read them.
Raising generations of children who are sooner offended by anything, instead of trying to think through something, will be a mistake we will all someday regret.
Ray Bardbury’s classic dystopian tale, Fahrenheit 451, is well known as a cautionary tale on censorship and the suppressing of knowledge. It is not his only warning on this danger. In The Martian Chronicles, in the chapter “April 2005 – Usher II,” this scene unfolds:
How could I expect you to know blessed Mr. Poe? …All of his books were burned in the Great Fire…He and Lovecraft and Hawthorne and Ambrose Bierce and all the tales of terror and fantasy and horror and, for that matter, tales of the future were burned. They passed a law. Oh, it started very small…[like] a grain of sand. They began by controlling books of cartoons and then detective books and, of course, films, one way or another, one group or another…there was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past, afraid of the present, afraid of themselves and shadows of themselves.
These warnings, I think, must be taken seriously. Even now, I read of censorship on certain websites, politicians who openly call for suppression of certain views and venues, repeated attempts to control the internet. People who don’t think the suppression of their rights can occur in our age, need to wake up and listen to what Bradbury wrote decades ago.
It all can begin small. Like a grain of sand.